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Stressed Out?

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It’s no news that advisors are overwhelmed, considering the behavior of the markets and the state of the economy. However, the recent spike in advisors who say they are “stressed” is significant, according to a new study conducted by the Financial Planning Association (FPA) and Vestment Advisors, a Minneapolis-based consulting firm. The 2008 Financial Advisor Survey on Physical and Mental Health, in which nearly 300 FPA members participated, found that 90% of advisors reported that recent market changes have increased their stress level.

The good news is that most of these advisors are not struggling with keeping their clients–41% of respondents reported they have maintained their clientele during the market turmoil and 48% say they have added clients. “So while our economy faces its most volatile time in decades, placing increased strain on these advisors, they are actually growing their practices,” the report reads. Though growth is usually a positive occurrence, there’s an issue in this instance–an increase in work without a plan to manage it. Prior to September 1, 2008, 71% of respondents reported spending less than 14 hours per week with their clients; however, in a follow-up survey, nearly 57% of those same advisors reported spending more than 15 hours per week with their clients. Moreover, 77% reported that client demands were the most stressful demand on their time. In conjunction with these results, 37% of respondents indicated that their health was terrific. The remaining 63% were asked, “What is keeping you from improving your health?” Fifty-five percent answered that a lack of time was causing the problem. The survey found that nearly 73% of advisors said they are dealing with too much paperwork. The other task most frequently identified as a problem was compliance.–Kara P. Stapleton