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Advisor News Four ways advisors can manage increasing stress levels

An organized schedule can help advisors juggle a wide array of responsibilities.

Chutima Chaochaiya/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

For financial advisors, being under an inordinate amount of stress comes with the territory.

In fact, a recent survey found that advisors in the United States are 23 per cent more stressed than the national average.

In the Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp.'s FlexShares exchange-traded funds division’s second annual financial advisor wellness survey, participants cited the ongoing competition for clients, compliance and regulatory work, political instability and market volatility as the top reasons of their work-related stress.

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For many advisors, overcoming these day-to-day stresses and remaining passionate about the work they do is a challenge that takes time and constant effort to overcome. Here are some proven strategies advisors can use to limit stress and remain engaged with daily work.

1) Manage time effectively and plan in advance

Juggling the wide array of responsibilities that come with being an advisor can feel like a balancing act. Having an organized schedule helps, says Tina Tehranchian, branch manager and senior wealth advisor at Assante Capital Management Ltd. in Richmond Hill, Ont.

She devotes Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays to meeting with clients and Mondays and Wednesdays to completing administrative tasks, filling out paperwork and catching up on missed items on her to-do list. It took her years to find the most efficient workflow, but now that she has developed a rhythm that works, she lives by it.

Ms. Tehranchian also strives to plan for every meeting well in advance, a time-management technique that she says mitigates the anxiety she typically feels when leaving things to the last minute.

“Preparation, for me, is the key to reducing stress levels because I find that if I’m not prepared for a meeting, my anxiety level goes high and my productivity falls,” she says. “I put a lot of emphasis on preparation and my team knows that, so they get their marching orders a week before in terms of the upcoming meetings … and 48 hours before the meeting I should have everything ready.”

2) Build a trustworthy team and delegate effectively

Ms. Tehranchian finds that having a well-built team around her also has been essential to reducing her workload and stress.

“There’s definitely lots of paperwork, lots of compliance, many steps that have to be taken to make sure that you’re doing the right job for your client, and if you take on everything yourself, it can definitely be one of the most stressful jobs out there,” she explains.

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Ms. Tehranchian emphasizes that although hiring one or more assistants to help with administrative tasks may seem unaffordable for advisors who are focused on increasing their businesses, but having a team of competent staff has reduced her stress and has freed up her schedule, leaving her more time to focus on clients.

In addition, Tony Mahabir, chairman and chief executive officer at Canfin Financial Group of Companies in Toronto, says surrounding himself with a team of like-minded, passionate staff can boost morale on the more draining days. He works hard to remind his team frequently about their shared goals, which in turn has kept him more in tune with his own career targets.

“We constantly remind everyone [at Canfin] – from our advisors to our staff, even the mailroom clerk – that this company’s mission gives us a higher sense of purpose,” Mr. Mahabir says.

3) Set boundaries and learn when to say no

For both Mr. Mahabir and Ms. Tehranchian, maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been vital to reducing their overall stress and improving their focus while they’re at work. Part of this requires knowing when to call it a day.

“Don’t go beyond your normal daily grind,” Mr. Mahabir suggests. “Sometimes, people will encroach on their family time, thinking that ‘I have to accommodate the clients.’ And then what happens? You have a fight at home with your spouse, or you didn’t have time for your kids, and now you’re getting that guilty feeling.”

Mr. Mahabir and Ms. Tehranchian also agree that setting limits on the amount of work they take on is essential in preventing their work from encroaching on their personal lives.

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“It’s very important to learn to say no to certain things,” Ms. Tehranchian says. “Know your limits. There are all sorts of demands on your time, whether it’s from the community or your clients. Before you say yes or no, sit down and see what the impact of taking on this new project or this new client, or what this new service commitment would be, and whether you can handle it.”

4) Remind yourself of values and goals regularly

When work piles up and stress becomes burdensome, many advisors have a tendency to lose sight of what drove them to pursue their careers initially. As such, finding ways to remind yourself of these goals is essential to staying engaged.

“Remember why you’re in this business in the first place,” Ms. Tehranchian says. “I strongly believe that for most advisors, it’s not just [about] the money. It’s way more than that. It’s being out there, in a very critical and important position, to give good advice to clients that can help make a difference in their lives.”

For some, activities such as meditating, writing a journal, or posting sticky notes with inspiring messages around the work space can be helpful practices for reflecting on professional goals. Clearing out your desk and inbox are other good ways to eliminate things that distract from the goals.

“As we do in spring, organize, declutter yourself, declutter your position, declutter your career, and do a recess,” suggests Cal Jungwirth, director of permanent placement services at Robert Half Finance & Accounting in Edmonton.

For others, gathering with colleagues to swap stories and celebrate professional wins is another way to decompress, build camaraderie and realign with what matters to you in your work.

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“Three times a year, we [have events that] we call ‘celebration times,’ ” Mr. Mahabir says of his office. “It could be bowling, it could be Cirque de Soleil, it could be a restaurant dinner … some event that lets people forget about work.”

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