Author's Note: Over the twenty years I've been in this industry, I've seen a great many advisors fail. They are well-intentioned people who didn't know where to turn for help. Often, the stress and panic of being backed into the corner paralyzed them. Today, it's no different. While you talk with consumers, I talk to other advisors, and here's what I know: They know they lack skills, but they don't know what those skills are. They feel alone and abandoned by peers and managers. They feel resentful and helpless. They want to find out what's wrong and learn how to fix it. So, for the length of this article, imagine that's you.

The threat of failure in the financial industry is like a guillotine hanging over your head. It constantly makes its presence known. Swish – feel it now breathing across the back of your neck? How can you avoid making the mistakes that kill so many careers? First, it would probably help to see what those mistakes are, right? We can't fix it if until we know what's broken.

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