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Many of us have heard the term work-life balance. It’s this idea about balancing the amount of time a person spends at work versus doing things in their everyday life, from family time to hobbies and exercise.
However, it can be difficult to achieve this balance, especially in certain professions that have a level of demand built in such as financial advisors. Still, some of the advisors on The Globe and Mail and SHOOK Research’s second annual Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors ranking say they work hard to carve out a little bit of time when they aren’t serving their clients.
Darcie Crowe, senior wealth advisor and senior portfolio manager at Crowe Private Wealth Group with Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Vancouver, says it can be difficult to find this harmony between one’s professional and personal life, but it can help to embrace the idea it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
“Dedicating my time to aspects of my career that are incredibly rewarding gives me greater purpose and therefore, a feeling of a more harmonious work/life balance,” she says.
“For example, I work extensively with individuals working through significant transitional life events. This often leads to very meaningful relationships with clients and a great sense of purpose.”
However, burnout among professionals in the financial sector is a very real concern, so engaging with people and activities outside of work is critical. Earlier this year, Mental Health Research Canada and Pollara Strategic Insights came out with a study that found 39 per cent of finance, legal and insurance workers are feeling burned out at work, which is higher than education and childcare workers (38 per cent) and first responders (36 per cent).
Despite these numbers, survey participants in the finance, legal and industries had the highest ratings in most of the workload and work-life balance categories. Three in five people (60 per cent) stated they’re able to balance the demands of work and personal life reasonably and 57 per cent indicated their employers promote work-life balance – the highest among any of the industries surveyed.
For Ms. Crowe, striving for optimal work-life balance is an ongoing process and one that she says tends to ebb and flow.
“It’s something I need to be aware of because it’s easy to get sucked into working non-stop,” she says. “So, having that consistent awareness about what your priorities are and how you want to be allocating your time helps to really spread that time out a little more effectively to make sure that you’re succeeding at the various aspects of life that are important to you.”
Don’t ‘get involved with a million things’
Still, it remains a challenge for most people to strike the right equilibrium between work hours and personal time, but sometimes it’s about not taking on too many things – hobbies, sports teams and other pastimes – to fight off being overwhelmed or stressed, says Ross Ferrier, investment advisor and branch manager with Commerce Valley Financial Group at CIBC Wood Gundy in Thornhill, Ont.
“When I think about this idea of work-life balance, to be honest, I’m not always very good at it,” says Mr. Ferrier, a former professional baseball player.
“But one of the things I did consciously when I first started out was that I didn’t get involved with a million things. That way I could concentrate on the things that matter to me most.”
The idea of balance for him means that he divides his time between work and his four kids, and that keeps him busy. However, he does take time every day to weight train in his gym, which is a converted barn on his farm property.
“That’s my time,” he says.
Rely on your team, set boundaries
Indeed, there’s a lot of juggling in a schedule when it comes to making yourself available to clients, says Laura Barclay, senior portfolio manager at TD Wealth Private Investment Counsel in Markham, Ont. But, she adds having a team she can rely on is a big part of her strategy to manage the stresses in life.
“This role that we’re in as advisors has created a tremendous amount of flexibility for me,” she says.
“I’m part of a team and I have people in the office who are extremely competent, can handle client requests and respond to needs. That has allowed me to achieve some kind of work-life balance.”
Setting some boundaries when it comes to replying to all the text messages, calls and e-mails advisors receive can be difficult, and the way Ms. Barclay dealt with that was by leaving her phone in the kitchen overnight so she could avoid the temptation to check work e-mails.
Now, her phone is her morning alarm, so it can’t live in the kitchen at night anymore, but she says she strives to set boundaries around this constant connectivity.
“Sometimes we have to create our own kinds of boundaries,” she says. “I do my best to assess the situation and, if I can help it, I don’t reply back on the weekend or at night. And there are times when it’s urgent, but most of the time it can wait until morning.”
She says that striving for work-life balance doesn’t have anything to do with a specific amount of time in your day you’re committing to your job or your home life or hobbies. It’s about finding what works best for the individual; for her, creating time to have conversations that aren’t work-related, walking her two dogs and hanging out with her family gives her that refresh she needs throughout the week.
“I like to put some ‘popcorn’ in my life and not be all work all the time,” Ms. Barclay says.
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