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Lessons From a Young Advisor

For Paul Adams, the keys to success are professional development—and a healthy dose of humility.

By Ayo Mseka

The numerous testimonials that accompanied the “Four Under Forty” nomination for Paul Adams got me thinking: Who is the real Paul Adams? No one can impress so many at such a young age. But after I spent some time with the 28-year-old, I found myself agreeing with his supporters: He is an outstanding advisor, and his rise to the top offers valuable lessons to anyone seeking business success.

In June of 1998, Adams joined the industry as a licensed intern. Today, he owns Las Vegas-based Clearline Financial Group, a four-person company with roughly $15 million under management. The firm works with high-income individuals, offers variable annuities and life and disability income insurance, and manages money in fee-based accounts. Recently, he joined Pacific Advisors in Claremont, Calif., and is on the advanced planning team, working with individuals whose net worth ranges from $4 million to $40 million. He is also author of the newly published book, Stop Burning Your Money.

In dealing with clients, Adams and his team stress an important point: If you are earning and saving a lot of money and are readily employable, bad investments won’t prevent you from retiring even if the market were to change. All you need is enough time. And the only three things that can steal time from you are: getting sued, becoming disabled, or dying. Once you have protected yourself from these as much as you can, you are free, mentally, to go and create as much wealth as possible.

When asked why he became so successful despite his relative youth, Adams mentions several factors. Among them: supportive parents, an amazing study group, working with a coach early in the business, great mentors and a “passion for caring for the financial success of all those around me.”

But he began growing “phenomenally,” he says, when he made a commitment to spend money on education every year. “It is easy to get so busy that you don’t have time for education,” he says. “But that is when you need to take the time to get an education. You’re busy because you don’t have enough knowledge. Knowledge, rather than hard work, is what increases capacity for a business. If you simply work hard, you have a limit.”

NAIFA has also played a key role in helping him move ahead. Early in his career, speakers at the NAIFA monthly meetings opened his eyes to the different ways advisors can build success. “I always left with a page full of things I learned,” he says.

Giving back
Despite his busy schedule, Adams makes it a point to give back to the industry. He is a founding member of the Las Vegas chapter of NAIFA’s Young Advisors Team, speaks to financial firms across the country and mentors agents who want to take their production to the next level.

And what advice does he have for those agents? If you are a newcomer, “find someone who is an [MDRT] Court of the Table member or higher, and be humble,” he says. “Do the work they ask you to do for six months to a year, and make sure you attend all their client meetings. You will then be valuable enough to them to increase their income and share in that income. Or you can go out on your own with knowledge you might not have learned in seven to 10 years.”

If you are young and successful, stay humble, he stresses. “My arrogance early in my career as I first made MDRT cut off some potentially powerful relationships,” he says. “The more I learn how to be humble, the more opportunities present themselves.”



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