Dealing with imposter syndrome

In a constant state of feeling like I should know more and paranoid about being 'caught out'. 

The range of Q's clients can ask is unlimited and there is ALWAYS more you can know about your coverage. Nobody reaches a point where they know it all (that's part of the joys of ER), but the overwhelming feeling of all the knowledge I don't have, has induced feelings of imposter syndrome e.g. other analysts seem so proficient & knowledgeable to the point where it appears they have never had a blip in confidence in their lives. Even though I can talk to clients competently, there's always an underlying feeling that I'm going to be 'caught out' by someone who is far more knowledgeable than me or be asked a Q that I should know the answer to, that I don't.

This feeling has so far fostered a good work ethic, I can look objectively and give myself some credit: generally work hard, been promoted, can handle a client call ok, entrusted to take on my own coverage, did CFA... etc. but that doesn't stop this imposter syndrome feeling.  

Anyone else felt like this and overcome it? How did you manage it? Any tips appreciated. 

Comments (9)

dickthesellsider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You won't know everything. And also you need to know how you and your analyst differentiate. You don't have to be the know-it-all type of analyst, some analyst doesn't know sht and yet is still an MD because they are good at something else. 

If you don't know, say you will look into it, either ask your boss or dig deeper, and actually get back to the client

If three clients ask you the same question and even if you know the answer, you should pitch your analyst to write a note on it (if you are the analyst, then just write a note) because all clients should know and it's a good touch point for the franchise

Mr_Agree_to_Disagree, what's your opinion? Comment below:


If you don't know, say you will look into it, either ask your boss or dig deeper, and actually get back to the client

Ding ding ding! The most powerful words in business, "That';s a good question. I don't know, but why don't we find out?"

The poster formerly known as theAudiophile. Just turned up to 11, like the stereo.
therightcoast_, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You need to learn to accept that imposter syndrome is a common thing and that it is also in your head. Everyone experience it. Some people let it control them, others push through. Your MDs have had or currently have imposter syndrome too and that's a 100% fact.

You should watch this -

  • 1
Pizz, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you have any tips for the CFA level 3 exam? Thanks in advance

  • 3
Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You're not paid to be a walking book, leave that for the academics. You're there to gather information and execute it to the best of your knowledge. If you got the job and you're able to maintain it, then you're good enough.

Howlin' Jim, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Impostor syndrome don't real.

You're actually just bad at your job.

You really think someone would do that? Just go on the internet and tell lies?
black_mamba95, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your help, I feel much better now

  • 1
Most Helpful
Addinator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've been around for 10+ years now and I still have these feelings. They come and go, sometimes really bad and other times pretty easy to stamp out.

For context while I've had some client facing experience (and you are correct, a client with a good question that stumps you is never a good feeling) I now manage a team of a dozen people and I'll tell you, it's hard sometimes to not feel like 'what if they all figure out I don't know what I'm doing or I'm unsure of things'.

I've started to try and manage it by looking internally for the validation of what I'm doing. Anchoring myself to what my objectives are, what the expectations are, and did I get the right result. Maybe I had no idea about XYZ question - but if I figured it out, well, that was the job that day. I think largely I've come to measure myself by what actions I took and when I didn't know the answer, understanding whether it was mine to know in the first place. There are good reasons why most organizations reward specialization more often than generalization - it's awesome to have teams of experts to tap into. I cannot possibly know everything about an international equity position we hold, but I sure do know who to call. Same with a compliance question, or HR question - those aren't my jobs, and if I don't know they are there to tap into. 

I truly believe that the key to managing this, and other types of self confidence issues, is to do as much internal work as you can. Understand your triggers, find things you can do like executing on the problem to help manage them, and work to get to the heart of what worries you. External validation helps briefly but never fixes it - at best, it helps give you comfort that you are doing the right thing. At worse, you now have one more person aside from yourself who might think you are an imposter - and that's like gasoline on the fire. 

My parting thought is that most people don't get to their current position by chance entirely. As I've thought through being an 'imposter' - I probably am and have been for much of my career. What separated me was that it didn't stop me from executing, doing the best I can, and frankly re-inventing myself when the need arose to do what needed to be done. 

black_mamba95, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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