The Insidious Problem that Stops You from Fully Supporting Your Clients

Sometimes the first step in helping clients is helping yourself.

You can’t help clients define a vision for the future if you don’t have one for yourself. You can’t help clients talk with their families about difficult topics if you feel uncomfortable about starting those same conversations. And, you can’t help clients deal with their stress and anxiety if you haven’t found ways to manage your own.It would be a blinding flash of the obvious to say that we humans feel significant stress. It’s true for you and it’s true for your clients. And it’s easy to be glib about feeling stress because it seems to be so pervasive that the word starts to lack meaning; it’s more the norm that the exception.Yet there’s more to the story because the impact of stress is potent and it’s real, whether that’s the impact on your ability to manage and grow a business or the impact on your clients’ ability to make effective decisions.For that reason, I was honored to support the Financial Planning Association, Janus Henderson Investors and Investopedia on important research on the War on Stress. You can access highlights and the full report here.And while I was lucky enough to be involved, I think those three organizations should be commended for delivering research that gets to the heart of the challenges that we face every day and providing insights into how we can help clients deal with those same challenges.

What We Know About Stress in This Industry

The research highlights some compelling issues (and opportunities).
  • Stress is high and on the rise. Among financial advisors, 28 percent say their level of negative stress is higher than 12 months ago and 44 percent said that level is higher than five years ago.
  • Reducing stress would have a meaningful impact on success. Eighty-five percent of advisors said a reduction in negative stress would have a positive impact on their personal lives.
  • Change is needed because the impact of stress is significant. According to advisors and investors, the greatest impact of negative stress is on mood, health and personal relationships.
  • Having a financial plan may reduce stress. The link between stress and financial insecurity is clear and those with a plan tend to feel lower stress.
  • The personal drives the professional. The most significant drivers of stress are personal (e.g., health) even if the effects are professional (e.g., struggling to focus or make decisions).
  • Finding the right balance throws us off balance. Balancing work and life and growing and marketing a business are the most common day-to-day stressors for advisors.
  • If stress is real (and it is) and the impact is both significant and negative (which it is) then don’t we need to make sure we tackle this issue in our own lives in order to lead clients effectively? The report includes great advice and resources to help you assess where you are today and to take meaningful action.Related: How Conversation Triggers an Increase in Referrals

    The Missed Opportunity with Clients

    It’s also interesting to note that while investors are feeling stress in their own lives, there is a clear and persistent communications gap (perhaps a chasm) linked to client concerns. The biggest worries that investors identified are: keeping personal data safe, dealing with the rising costs of health care and maintaining sufficient assets to meet lifetime income needs.But here’s the problem, according to the research. While advisors believe they are addressing the big issues in the lives of their clients in a proactive way, many investors have a different view. They believe it’s all on the clients to raise these issues. This is a real and practical problem that you may need to address as part of your communications plan.I hope you take some time to read the research, but more importantly to reflect on the comments from your peers on the toll that stress is taking. And I hope you’re feeling enough compassion for yourself to hit pause and look inward, not only to improve your own life and business, but to more effectively help the clients you have committed to serve.