Over the past couple of decades, the financial advice industry has evolved from being based primarily on one-off transactions with dozens or often one or several hundred individuals that an advisor may interact with (often only once every few years), to being focused on providing ongoing advice for a tighter group of clients that the advisor meets with several times each year. One of the greatest features that has emerged as part of that evolution (and attracts people into the profession itself) is the depth of ongoing relationships that advisors develop with the clients they serve. The feeling of playing a key role in helping families reach their financial goals provides a high level of both personal and professional satisfaction, and can become deeply gratifying personally as those relationships last for several decades (and across multiple generations). Sometimes, however, advisors can become so attached to their clients that it becomes difficult to separate a client’s stress from their own… which can eventually take its toll on the advisor’s own health.
In our 58th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and financial advisor communication expert Carl Richards discuss some of the things that advisors can do to stop thinking (and worrying) about their clients quite so much, strategies to regain some mental health balance in their lives, and ways create (and maintain) some separation from work outside of regular office hours.
As a starting point, some initial steps advisors can take in order to stop thinking and worrying so much about whatever may be stuck in their heads is by simply writing it down! Whether doing it digitally (with a dedicated note-taking app like Evernote) or by going ‘old-school’ with a pen and paper, the physical act of just typing (or writing) out the client issue on the advisor’s mind can often have a purging effect, as it gives advisors a way to get whatever it is that they’re stuck on out of their heads and into a place where they know they’ll be able to go back to it… with the caveat being that they have to make reviewing those notes (at an appropriate time) part of their routine (but at the same time, can let go of the issue for the immediate time being!).
From there, advisors can become proactive about making small changes to their routines and habits around sleep, exercise, and diet, to preserve their own mental health. Incremental steps, like going for a mid-day stroll, doing anything that doesn’t involve a screen before going to bed, and turning off notifications from work-related apps after a specific time, can go a long way. Or, in other words, taking those incremental steps can help advisors put “air in their shocks”, which can help them build up the resilience they need to better react to and manage stressful situations as they do inevitably arise.
Ultimately, the key point is that financial advice is, at its core, a helping profession, and as such, attracts people who want to have a positive impact on other people’s lives. However, it’s crucial for advisors to realize that they are also important, and if they don’t protect their own physical and mental health, they simply won’t be able to help their clients. By focusing on getting some exercise, eating healthier, getting better sleep, and jotting down whatever it is that’s stuck in their heads, advisors can be proactive about making sure that they’re able to serve their clients to the best of their ability!