We are reaching out to the top producers from our past BIC Top 50 lists to solicit their advice on how they achieved their success. Each month, we plan to showcase a few of the responses, both online and in print. So far, we’ve asked them these two questions: 1) Tell us the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the past couple of years and how you met that challenge; and 2) Tell us one of the mistakes you made as a younger advisor, and what advice you would give young advisors today to avoid such a mistake. Here we present two of those answers (lightly edited for length.)

Matthew Fryer (Wells Fargo)

Challenge: The biggest challenge was trying to gain more consistency in model-based investment performance and to make changes in a timely fashion. I transitioned to our discretionary platform; this took a period of six months. I explained the advantages to clients and it has freed up a tremendous amount of time. We rebalance the whole book every quarter and if we make changes it takes a few hours vs. a few weeks trying to reach all the clients to make the change. Mistake from my early days: Trying to be all things to all people. I tried to be a stock trader, bond buyer, 401k specialist and a retirement planner all at once. My advice is to find a niche as soon as possible to simplify and be the best you can be at it.  My focus is solely on wealth and retirement planning and based on the clients’ goals, they are put into one of my discretionary models. If a client just wants to buy a stock, I tell them I cannot watch it for them, but we can set up a small trading account for that. I am now very firm as to what my process is with a client. I explain all of that to them upfront so if it does not meet their needs, I can refer them to another advisor.

Don Foster (The Bank and Trust/Raymond James)

Challenge: The biggest challenge after 2008-2009 has been convincing “younger” clients (30 to 50 years old) that the equity market is a safe place for their long-term investment money. The challenge is getting them to understand the difference between volatility and risk in long-term investments, so that their portfolios are positioned for long-term growth with rising income capability. Mistake from my early day: The desire to do business with almost everyone. Part of that is obviously financial survival as a new advisor. Over time it has become easier to recognize the difference between “customers” and “clients.” Clients being those with the potential for a long-term relationship of mutual trust. My advice is to learn to recognize the difference as soon as possible and become very selective with whom you work.

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