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Four Under Forty: Advice for Success

By Maggie Leyes, Lucretia DiSanto Jones, Helen Thompson

This month in Advisor Today, we profiled young advisors who have charted and achieved success while still in their 30s in Four Under 40. Here are more tips from the top:

Marcus T. Henderson Sr., LUTCF
The most important sales lesson Marcus T. Henderson Sr., LUTCF, has learned is always top of mind. “It comes down to consistency of seeing the people. People say all the time, ‘The numbers will work out.’ But what happens is we don’t practice that,” he says. “You have to actually perform the numbers for it work out, and that’s what we [at Henderson Financial] try to do now. In the last five years, we’ve gone from MDRT to Court of the Table and are well on our way to Top of the Table.”

To those starting out in this business, Henderson, a Nashville AIFA member, has this to say: “We are here to sell life insurance and investments and help clients with financial needs, so you need to structure your day that way. You also have to develop the proper work ethic. You have to treat this profession as if you were working a nine-to-five job. Our time is our own, but that doesn’t mean we can work only two hours a day. Remember, along with freedom comes responsibility.”

And regarding his membership in NAIFA, this incoming president of NAIFA-Tennessee acknowledges that it was a company requirement when he started in the business, but still feels it is indispensable for any agent or advisor. “It made all the difference in my life,” he admits. “At NAIFA meetings, I am among others just like me. I am able to lick my wounds, get advice, talk about things only we can understand and then go back out into the world.”

Michael R. McNaughton, CFP, CLU, LUTCF
Michael R. McNaughton, CFP, CLU, LUTCF, of The Oakwood Group in Webster, N.Y., says his firm keeps up its successful client-acquisition and retention rate simply by doing what’s right by its many clients.

“Over the last 15 years or so I've always been looking for that magic formula, and I've finally come to the conclusion that it doesn't exist,” says McNaughton, a member of Rochester AIFA. “If you break down our marketing and prospecting approach, it would be networking with professionals, working with our existing clients and the referrals from them, and doing educational workshops. Just keeping the promises we made and delivering to our clients creates a strong base of referrals for us.”

McNaughton also suggests that advisors take advantage of the economic and demographic landscapes in their geographical areas. For example, there are a number of large corporations in Oakwood’s backyard, like Xerox and Kodak. There has been some downsizing within these companies, which means retirement-planning skills and experience are necessary for advisors practicing in the Rochester area. Take these large corporations out of the picture, and the need for retirement-planning skills is still considerable. “Retirement planning is probably derived more from demographics than anything else. There is just such a huge need out in the marketplace,” says McNaughton.

Amy Scott, LTCP
Amy Scott, LTCP, just returned to work after the birth of her third child, so the incredible juggling act that’s required to balance family and work responsibilities is fresh on her mind. “The hardest thing to deal with is the pressure you put on yourself to be the best: to be the best mom you can be—to be at all the games, to help with all the homework—and then also to be the very best at your position at work for all the people that depend on you there,” she says.

Her tips? Know your support structure and find a time management system that works for you. For support, Scott relies on mentor relationships. “I’m fortunate to have a couple of very strong women in my life that I can talk with,” she says. “They help me process everything, because I am my own biggest critic. I try to do that for other people, too. Helping others deal with things helps puts your own life in perspective.”

Time management comes up at every management coaching session she leads. “It doesn’t matter what you use so much as how you use it,” she says. “The execution of your system is what’s important.” She says she has a PDA, but her most important tool is a good old-fashioned notebook that she carries everywhere—“anything with blank lined pages that can take a beating,” says Scott, a member of NAIFA-Columbus. “Every phone call that I get, every person that walks through my door, even every thought that comes into my mind, I write it down. I go to the nth degree sometimes, but it’s because I don’t want to forget anything, and because distractions can pop up at any time.”


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