Close Close

Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Advising the advisor: Part 1 (stress is a problem)

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

Several studies have described the emotional and psychological stress that the profession of financial advising entails. A major study of the emotional well-being of advisors during the 2008 financial crisis showed that 93 percent of the advisors surveyed reported medium to high stress levels and 39 percent reported stress symptoms at levels compatible with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

When with think about PTSD, we typically envision tornadoes, hurricanes, combat and other life-threatening events. But events that threaten one’s financial security and even a threat to one’s career can be just as traumatic.

For advisors, the financial crisis was not only a perceived threat to the security of their careers, but a threat to their own portfolios. So many advisors suffered the double whammy of major losses in both their clients’ portfolios and in their own. Added to this stress was getting bombarded with calls from frightened, disgruntled and hostile clients, blaming the advisor for not having seen the crisis coming and adjusting their portfolios accordingly.

You may be thinking that the crisis has passed and advisors and their clients are currently enjoying record markets; but, you know very well that these situations are cyclical and unpredictable. Therefore, the best strategy for you is to build up resilience to such event NOW, so that when such situations repeat, you will avoid overwhelming anxiety and burnout. 

Apart from market fluctuations, there are many ongoing, job-related stressors that must be contended with, in order to function efficiently and prevent burnout.

The Variety of Hats You Wear

In order to be an effectiveadvisor, you must become comfortable filling many different roles for your clients: financial expert, trust attorney, marriage counselor, clergyman, social worker, psychologist, CPA, etc. Of course, you can refer your clients to such professionals, but in your meetings with your clients you need to be the equivalent of a medical “general practitioner,” able to answer many questions, as if you are an expert in all of these specialties.

The other hats you wear are fiduciary and compliance expert, research analyst, new technology expert, referral prospector and marketing manager.

The constant and often unpredictable necessity to switch hats is an ongoing stressor for advisors.

Additional Everyday Job Stressors for Advisors

Advisors must also constantly deal with the following stressors:

  • Dealing with unreasonable and demanding clients
  • Conflicts between manager vs. client demands and needs
  • Keeping up with book of business quotas
  • Establishing a trusted support team in the office
  • Taking the time for professional development (conferences and seminars)
  • Balancing work, family, recreation and relaxation

My goal in this series is to teach you how to MASTER any and all stressors that you encounter, on and off your job. This series will stave off job burnout, a common problem for so many advisors.

Stay tuned for Part 2-“How Stress Can Kick the ‘Health’ Out of You”

Dr. Jack Singer is a Professional Clinical/Sport Psychologist and a Professional Speaker/Coach, for financial professionals. He is the author of “The Financial Advisor’s ULTIMATE Stress Mastery Guide,” which can be ordered at:  Dr. Jack conducts a limited number of private coaching sessions with producers/advisors. Visit his website at , or call him at 1-800-497-9880.