The Importance of Vulnerability as an Independent Financial Advisor

4 min read
October 15, 2020

One of XY Planning Network’s Core Values is Be Well Being You. For us, this means taking care of and investing in yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. After all, you are at your best—and can therefore best help others—when you’ve built a solid foundation for yourself. As is explained in XYPN’s Dream Team handbook, “We all bring unique identities, experiences, and perspectives that contribute to a rich culture. Embrace your differences and your strengths to grow and succeed and celebrate and cherish each other’s uniqueness as well.”

2020 has definitely put this value to the test. We published a blog earlier this year about Burnout and Compassion Fatigue that is just as, if not more, relevant today as it was then. In the spirit of our “Be Well Being You” core value, allow me to ask: how have you been focusing on, well, you, and being your best self? For of my teammates, being well meant taking time off to process all the hardship and heartache that’s plagued our world. For others, it meant diving into work and dedicating their energy to helping others. For me, being well while being me is about redefining what it means to be vulnerable so I can properly lean into my community and support system and be available to give back in return.

It’s no secret that one of XYPN’s biggest value-adds is the community. We pride ourselves on providing a community of like-minded fee-only financial advisors who provide financial services to Gen X and Gen Y. One of the most exciting aspects of our community is how active it is. You can find a topic in our member forums for just about anything—sales, investment management horror stories, and even who is open to playing a round of COD: Warzone. It is the very definition of the word “community.”

While a community, at its core, is a group of people you can go to with questions or for advice, our community, both in the member forums and the VIP, also acts as a refuge for those who are facing particularly difficult and distressing times. It’s there for support when you need it the most and is a sounding board for those who need to share their feelings and vent their frustrations.

What makes up a community is not only the group of people though. It’s the integration and facilitation of connection, and the trust and open discourse shared among the group. It boils down to the ability to be vulnerable and, in return, for that vulnerability to be heard without judgement.

The Unseen Beauty of “Vulnerability”

I’m going to be honest: the word “vulnerability” is so complex and scary. To just talk about vulnerability is to be vulnerable. It’s a subjective term and looks different to everyone, but even so, it often carries with it a negative connotation and is often overlooked in society. For instance, when you google the definition of “vulnerability”, the first thing that comes up from Oxford Dictionary is this definition: “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”

This inherently brings about feelings of fear of being hurt, resulting in putting a guard up to protect from this potential threat. There’s also this sense of shame associated with vulnerability—that to be vulnerable means to be susceptible to being attacked, and thus weak.  

And so, we hide and bury many opportunities to be vulnerable. 

While being vulnerable is intimidating, it’s incredibly important. Vulnerability allows you to connect with others, and connection is at the heart of what it means to be human. We all crave human connection in one way or another (even the most introverted of introverts)—that may very well be why you became a financial planner in the first place. Financial planning is a helping profession and it runs on human connection. When we deprive ourselves the chance of being vulnerable, we also deprive ourselves of opportunities to reach out to someone, to be heard, and to have valuable connection.

Why Financial Advisors Should Be Vulnerable

Earlier this year, my teammate Isabel Leong wrote a wonderful blog about embracing the abundance mentality. This goes hand-in-hand with leaning into the community. We say it often and we say it loudly here at XYPN: we’re about collaboration, not competition. There are more than enough clients to go around. Being vulnerable within the community, and leaning into that collaboration, opens you up for more connection, more opportunity to help others, and more room to grow your centers of influence (COIs). On a personal level, it builds trust among your peers and establishes much needed rapport with others. Additionally, it gives you a community to turn to during trying times.

You never know how your story will impact others; often, sharing your own journey will inspire others to share theirs. Whenever you’re opening up and being vulnerable, there’s always the risk you’ll get hurt. As I shared above, that “hurt” component is inherent to the definition of vulnerability. But the beautiful flip slide is that vulnerability is infectious and leads to open and honest conversations, which then can lead to more meaningful connections with others.

Of course, you do not have to go share your life story and hardships to every advisor you meet. That’s not my intention with this blog. Rather, if you are feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed, consider sharing your thoughts and feelings with our incredibly, welcoming community and trust that you will be heard. 

To help rewire what it means to be vulnerable, I’ll leave you with this quote from Brené Brown: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Sara Williams

About the Author

Sara first started with XY Planning Network as a Member Experience Specialist where she served members in the Building/Scaling phase of their firm journey. She is now the Operations Specialist for XY Tax Solutions (XYTS), a role that merges her passion for building and refining processes with her love for helping members. She is honored to serve members in a different capacity and spends her days evaluating XYTS's processes/workflows and aligning its business operations with the needs of advisors and clients.

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