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Female Advisors' Stress Rose in 2020: Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • Female advisors reported higher stress than male advisors, but only slightly higher than in years past.
  • A vast majority of those surveyed, 78%, reported job satisfaction.
  • Forty-five percent of advisors said their business would be back to normal within a year.

Female advisors have been more stressed than their male counterparts during the pandemic, as 62% of all advisors say net assets under management grew and 57% saw an increase in the number of clients, according to a Northern Trust FlexShares survey of 462 advisors.

The third annual Wellness survey conducted by the ETF group found that female advisors’ stress level was 55.3%, compared with 46.9% for male advisors. The national average is 48.9%.

The elevated stress point for women during the pandemic was largely due to having to wear “multiple hats” in balancing work and family life, the survey noted. That said, despite the pandemic, these stress levels were only slightly higher for both groups than those from the 2018 survey.

“We’ve seen that across the workforce, the pandemic has uniquely impacted women and magnified existing stressors to their work-life balance. However, we believe there are actionable ways the industry can help support female advisors and make the workplace more rewarding,” said Laura Hanichak Gregg, director of practice management and advisor research at FlexShares.

“In general, women are typically better reporters of stress, which can lead to reaching out for help to better manage it. Advisory firms should actively encourage this open discussion of stress factors and offer coping mechanisms — for all genders — such as flexible work arrangements and support on task and time management. These ‘on-the-job’ strategies can help promote significant stress reduction and a more attractive work environment,” she said.

In addition, the survey found political uncertainty in 2020 was the highest-ranked reason for stress, followed by compliance and regulatory issues and client relationships. Pressure on fees and margins was ranked eighth in terms of causing stress.

The survey found that managing the stress was better achieved by using on-the-job strategies such as time management, delegation and enhancing client relationships. This worked better than off-the-job actions like meditation, exercise and leisure activities, which helped with “handling” stress, while job actions helped in reducing overall stress, the study found.

Business Maintained

Also, the pandemic didn’t impede advisors’ business for the most part, the survey found, and in fact advisors saw “several positive outcomes,” such as increased time with family (51%), while 46% saw it as an opportunity to rethink their role in business.

Other findings of the survey included:

  • 78% of advisors reported occupational satisfaction versus 76% in 2018.
  • 58% stated that providing service to those in need was what they “most loved” about being an advisor. Nineteen percent cited independence as their favorite aspect.
  • 36% said the pandemic provided them with “a renewed sense of purpose in their work”
  • 70% reported they worked outside the office during the pandemic. Younger advisors switched to remote work faster than older advisors. Those with their own practices had less of a shift in workspace (60.9%) versus other industry players (for example, IBDs at 90.5%)

There was also optimism among those surveyed on how long it would take for business to get back to normal. Forty-five percent said they believed it would take less than a year, 24% believed it would take five years while 20% saw business already returning to normal.

The online survey, conducted by Riedel Strategy from Oct. 5 through Oct. 30, 2020, with about 82.5% respondents being men. AUM was typically between $76 million and $150 million. While 88% of respondents were white, 3% were Asian, 3% were Latino and 1% were Black. Four percent described themselves as mixed-race.

(Image: Adobe Stock)

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