The ClientWise Blog

Financial Advisors: The Hidden Danger of Staying in Your Comfort Zone

Posted by Chris Holman on May 14, 2013 12:47:00 PM

Moving out of your comfort zone ain’t easy – even for successful financial advisors. That’s why they call it the comfort zone.

Yet, staying put has hidden risks too. That’s the premise of Doug Sundheim’s new book, Taking Smart Risks

As he points out, the dangers of staying in your comfort zone aren’t sudden, obvious or dramatic. They are like a really slow leak in your bike tire. You don’t notice it until you are miles down the road.


As coaches to successful financial advisors, we frequently see living examples of the risks of remaining in the comfort zone. The financial advisor with 10, 15, or 20+ years under their belt, who has been reasonably successful in their career, and is making a pretty good living, yet who hasn't actively marketed themselves in many, many years and has a diminishing roster of aging, wonderful clients who are easy to work with...and slowly fading away.

If this rings a bell for you, you can at least know that you are not alone. With the average age of financial advisors in the neighborhood of 55 or so with an even older client list, this is a big, big issue that is endemic within the entire financial advisory community.

The 5 Risks of Playing It Safe

As Sundheim points out, the “safe” place of staying where you are is often the riskiest. He cites five dangers of being locked in your comfort zone:


  • You don’t grow.
  • You don’t win.
  • You don’t create.
  • You lose confidence.
  • You don’t feel alive.


So, how do you break out of this comfortable confinement?

For the analytical minds, he suggests a de-risking cost/benefit analysis that consists of listing:

  1. the benefits of a given risk
  2. the costs of that risk
  3. the benefits of avoiding the risk
  4. the costs of avoiding the risk.

Then, use this data to help us determine how the framing of the risk is affecting our ability to move forward.

It’s a good place to start. Yet, if moving outside our comfort zone was as simple as performing this very thoughtful, deliberate four-column exercise, none of us would ever stay stuck for very long.


Old Habits Die Hard

A big part of the change process is being able to walk away from outdated beliefs and behaviors that have outlived their usefulness, and addressing misconceptions and assumptions that we accept without much examination or thought.

What we accept and believe determines how we behave, and how we behave determines what we achieve.

Again, this is easier said than done. As Peter Drucker has said, “It’s easier to come up with new ideas than to let go of old ones.”

I’ll leave you with this thought: If you were able to discard once-valid beliefs and practices that have outlived their purpose, and freed up space for more productive alternatives, what “risks” would you like to take on?


Want to break out of your marketing comfort zone? Download the following complimentary ClientWise Learning Tool for some fresh ideas:


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ClientWise is the premier financial advisor coach focused on business development and management best practices for financial advisors.

Topics: Change