Category Archives: Advisor Burnout

To Avoid Burnout, Ditch Old Habits

The last few years have been good for RIAs.  Charles Schwab Corp’s 2014 benchmarking survey found that, since 2009, RIAs have seen median compound annual growth of 12.8% in assets under management and 13.6% in revenue.  However, for many advisors this exponential growth has been accompanied by increased levels of stress and anxiety.  Or, in the words of our CEO and president Michael Stier, “success has its price.”

In a new article published in InvestmentNews, Michael discusses stress in the RIA industry and reveals some tips for reducing stress levels at work and improving quality of life.  This is a conversation we should all be having.  After all, when Health Magazine includes our profession in its list of 10 careers with the highest rates of depression, we know something is up.  For some hard data, check out Adhesion’s most recent Advisor Stress Survey.

  • 79% of those surveyed rated the stress level of their job at 7 or higher (out of 10)
  • 63% reported that stress had increased over the previous year.

This is not a problem that goes away on its own.  If advisors do not proactively address ongoing stress issues they may also run the risk of eventually burning out completely.  A skewed work-life balance can suck the fun out of the job and detract from the most important things like time spent with the family.  The good news is that many RIAs are aware of the problem and have devised their own solutions for identifying and combating rising stress levels.

Michael points out in the article that while investment solutions have continued to evolve, many RIAs are still run the same way they were 5 years ago.  The result is that advisors end up spending too much time on operational and back-office tasks to the detriment of client relationships and growing the business.  Here are Michael’s tips for reducing stress in your business:

  1. Stop being your own assistant.  A simple fix here is to hire an assistant if you don’t already have one.  If you don’t want to make a new hire, you can delegate non-essential tasks to employees or even a part-time intern.
  2. Outsource your back office.  Michael suggests looking to a turnkey asset management platform if your AUM tops $3 billion.  Many platforms offer you access to sophisticated research, reporting, asset allocation, compliance and analytic solutions.
  3. Outsource investments.  Researching and conducting due diligence on potential investments is a huge stress multiplier for many RIAs.  An investment outsourcer gives you access to investment research and due diligence on separately managed accounts, alternative investments, mutual funds and ETFs, portfolio management, performance reporting and billing.
  4. Exercise.  Exercise is medically proven to reduce stress and restore energy.  Michael proposes setting aside specific time throughout the week to exercise, and treating it as you would a client meeting.

Leave the office at the office.  Ultimately, it’s the things that happen away from our desk and outside the office walls that really matter.  So follow Michael’s advice and give yourself permission to unplug.

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Adhesion Q2 Advisor Stress Survey

The results from the Adhesion Q2 Advisor Stress Survey are in, and it’s clear that advisor stress is not going away.  Among the more compelling findings:

  • 79% of advisors reported a stress level of 7+
  • 63% of respondents said that their level of stress has increased since this time last year

Adhesion remains committed to working with RIAs to combat stress and bring the joy back into the business.  Check out the full results here.

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Advisors Share Their Top Stess-Beating Techniques

Check out this great article in Financial Advisor IQ by Thomas Coyle entitled “Advisors Share Their Top Stress-Beating Techniques.”  In it, Coyle discusses the ground-breaking research conducted by Adhesion on advisor stress and how advisors are dealing with it in their daily lives.

Stress Survey Results

Adhesion recently conducted a stress survey that had some very interesting results:

  • 80% of advisors rated their work-related stress levels at 7 out of 10 or higher
  • 60% stated they had grown more stressed over the past year

When asked about “major stressors” they’d like to see addressed in future surveys, half the respondents suggested we address work factors that negatively affect “maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”

Stress and Your Health

Coyle points to a report in Health magazine that ranks the advisor profession as 9th on its list of 10 careers with the highest rates of depression.  The report stated that this is mainly due to the pressure of “handling thousands or millions of dollars for other people.”  Coyle also reminds us that stress represents a “long-term health threat.”  The Mayo Clinic states that stress can speed up the heart, boost blood pressure, put extra sugar in the blood stream, suppress digestion and cause mood swings.

Stress and Burnout Not the Same

According to Adhesion CEO Michael Stier, there is a distinction between stress and burnout.  Burnout is a career ender or at the very least a major turning point, whereas stress is a “daily hazard”.  If daily stress is not addressed, it is a major contributor to an advisor becoming burned out.  Stier says that advisors can reduce stress by taking “more proactive versus reactionary approaches to business.”  Coyle points out that this can mean “turning to firms like Adhesion to lighten their workload.”

Be Active, Not Reactive

Adhesion continues to lead the pack in researching and addressing how stress affects advisors in their daily lives.  One thing is clear: as our CEO Michael Stier reminds us, stress is not something advisors can afford to ignore.  Only by taking active measures now can advisors effectively combat stress and avoid burning out later.

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Handling RIA Burnout with Bob Veres

Bob does a great job of addressing the phenomenon of RIA Burnout, and offers lots of helpful tips and insights for addressing it.  For example, have you tried making a “To-Don’t” list of the things you don’t want to do that could be delegated?

Check out the replay below for Bob’s thoughts on advisor burnout and putting more joy back in the job!

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How Are You Managing Advisor Burnout?

An April 24th article in Financial Advisor IQ, “Tips for Keeping Job Burnout at Bay,” offers some great insights into the burnout  many advisors are suffering in their jobs and what they’re doing to mitigate.  The article cites a recent study conducted by the Financial Planning Association that found over a 3rd of advisors work 50-plus hours a week.  According to Valerie Porter, an advisor who worked on the report, “Excessive workloads are big contributors to the amount of burnout we see in this profession.”

What Are Some of Your Peers Doing to Address Burnout?

Porter, an RIA in Indianapolis, is herself a former victim of advisor burnout.  After seeing her workload drastically increase post-2008, she fired some clients and now sees around 50 families; down almost 60% from before.  Moreover, she began her own consulting practice; something that, as a former teacher, aligned closely with her personal interests.  The article states: “Porter finds that aligning her career more with her own enthusiasms ‘is making a big difference in relieving much of the everyday stress’ that comes with the advice profession.”

The article goes on to talk about another advisor who suffered from burnout and the feeling that he never accomplished enough work in his day-to-day.  His solution was to develop a point system to give him a way to assess his daily productivity and work towards a measurable goal.  Now, he says “The business is fun again and challenging in a positive way.”

Ways to Mitigate Burnout

Two more important ways to avoid burnout are also addressed.  The first is to delegate.  Why should the same person have to make the high-level investment decisions, and conduct the paperwork and back-office functions? This is a surefire way to get burned out.  Secondly, advisors should avoid “biting off more than they can chew.”  David Morganstern of Confluence Wealth Management suggests capping the number of clients per advisor at 50-85.  However, as Morganstern points out, this is a highly individualized process since some clients require much more upkeep and personal attention than others.

Ultimately, It’s About the Clients

These are just a few of the ways advisors are coming to grips with the phenomenon of Advisor Burnout.  Remember, burnout doesn’t just turn your work experience into a negative one.  It also affects the experience you are giving your clients.  The Morganstern quote the article closes with is one all advisors should be keeping in the forefront of their minds:

“It’s important to have a sense that you’re making a real difference.  If you don’t strongly feel that you’re a part of the financial well-being of your clients, then it’s time to change the way you do business.”

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Advisor Burnout is Affecting More and More Advisors

Let’s talk about stress.

This is the most stressful week so far this year for many investment advisors. There are quarterly reports to reconcile, fees to bill and taxes to finalize. Sound familiar?

If you’ve been feeling more and more stressed and less and less joy then you may be suffering from Advisor Burnout.  Bob Veres, one of the foremost thought leaders in our industry and former editor-in-chief of Financial Planning magazine, has put together a groundbreaking white paper entitled Solving the Burnout Crisis.  Based on feedback from over 200 investment advisors, Bob not only identifies some causes and variations of Advisor Burnout, he also shares feedback from other advisors on ways to deal with stress and other root issues.  Click here to read the white paper.

Adhesion recently launched our inaugural stress survey to help give you even deeper insight into the sources and solutions for this problem. Please accept our gift of a $25 card after you complete this surveyClick here for the link to the survey.

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