Financial advisors, especially millennials, are moaning that they’ve lost their mojo. Could chronic marijuana use often be the reason? That’s what New York psychotherapist and performance coach Jonathan Alpert argues in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.
A year ago, Alpert, whose clients include a number of traders, analysts, bankers and FAs, declared in a conversation with this reporter that many of his millennial clients were “a strung-out, rattled mess” working killer hours and trying to deal with job stress by relying on prescription and street drugs, among them, marijuana.
Now, he argues, that stress compounded by high market volatility has made both young FAs as well as many seasoned advisors reliant on weed to ease anxiety and is a cause of their losing that much-needed performance edge.
According to Alpert, marijuana clouds thinking and kills motivation.
In a goal-oriented program, the licensed therapist, 46, coaches clients back to a healthy lifestyle and recapturing passion for their job.
Alpert, who early on worked briefly for the FBI, made waves in 2012 with his controversial New York Times Opinion piece headlined, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already.” That year, he also published “Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days” (Center Street/Hachette).
In the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, “Inside Out,” he commented on the financial crisis, and he has appeared on the “Today” show, CNN and Fox News. Licensed in three states, he’s been a spokesperson for Liberty Mutual Insurance and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, among other companies.
ThinkAdvisor recently spoke with the therapist-coach, on the phone from his midtown Manhattan office (He has a small practice in Washington, D.C. as well). Besides shedding light on ways in which financial professionals are trying to cope, Alpert revealed how the savviest of his FA clients regard President Donald Trump: They like him.
Here are excerpts from our conversation:
THINKADVISOR: What aspect of performance are your clients in their 20s, 30s and 40s seeking help with most?
JONATHAN ALPERT: They feel they’ve lost the edge they think they need on Wall Street and consequently, aren’t performing well. They want to learn how to get back in the game.
Please explain what you mean by “edge.”
Lost their mojo. Their energy, their ability to take smart risks. They’ve become, perhaps, more conservative or cautious in their work. They start to slack off, show up late, leave early. They’re not studying the market as well. They’ve lost interest.
To what do you attribute that?
Some of it’s just fatigue. Wall Street is a high stress, high-anxiety environment — a fight-or-flight situation. That might improve their game, or it might force them to retreat and lose their edge.
Is the volatility of the stock market at all responsible for the way they feel?
There’s some anxiety because of the volatility, which makes them cautious. They’re more concerned about that than some of the more seasoned financial folks. The younger ones will catch the headlines and sensationalized stories. That’s only going to make them react emotionally or maybe make irrational investment decisions.
How much does being relatively new to the industry relate to how they react to volatility?
They don’t have the work history to know that what’s happening is pretty normal. The younger folks have a lot to prove, and they feel more pressure — self-imposed and otherwise. When there are dips or volatility in the market, there’s more anxiety around their job security.
When we talked last year, you told me that millennial advisors were a mess — working killer hours and relying on drugs to reach peak performance. Has that changed?
The general feeling is that they’re still participating in self-destructive, unhealthy behaviors. But I think that’s par for the course with young Wall Street folks.
You also indicated that to alleviate anxiety, financial professionals were compulsively frequenting massage parlors for sex. To what extent does that still occur?
We’re always going to see those vices with this population.
Marijuana use is on the rise nationwide. Are your advisor clients using it to allay anxiety?