How do Top Financial Advisors Manage Stress?

People have gotten really comfortable since 2009. We’ve seen consistent growth in the markets with very minimal volatility. Its been a nothing-but-blue-skies bull market. How did it feel a couple weeks ago when we saw a slight correction in the market and volatility measuring indices surging over 20%? Were you fielding calls from your frightened clients? Feeling guilty for having some bad news and uncertainty about how long or far the correction will go? Worrying about the stability of your own career? What about YOUR portfolio?

Corrections are healthy for the markets but potentially not so much for financial advisors. And they are inevitable if you want to be an advisor for the long haul.

In 2008, a study was done examining the emotional wellbeing of financial advisors during the 2008 crisis. The study reported that:

-          93% of the advisors surveyed reported medium to high stress levels

-          39% reported stress levels compatible with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

-          25% of Wall Street Stockbrokers suffered from clinical depression.

-          That same year the study was taken, only 7% of all men in the US were diagnosed with depression

Potential stressors for Financial Advisors:

-          Wearing multiple “hats” – psychologist, social worker, seminar producer, marketing manager, confidante, time manager, fiduciary, research analyst, referral prospector

-          Dealing with second hand stress from clients

-          Having responsibility for client’s futures

-          Conflicting demands from managers and clients

-          Competition

-          Establishing a team

-          Maintaining professional development

-          Balancing work, family, recreation, and relaxation

Which can lead to:

-          Anxiety/Depression

-          Burnout

-          Poor physical health

-          Lower productivity

-          Lower sales

-          Lowered ability to prospect

How can you communicate effectively, be reassuring and confident, and be effective and productive with OTHERS if you are not being in control of and at peace with yourself?

Each of us has our own internal mechanism of realigning our body’s reaction to the physical and emotional stimuli and coping effectively. Sometimes the reactions to these stimuli – events, thoughts- are physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally negative.

The flip side of that is when we don’t have enough stress, we become complacent, bored, and we start to fall behind the bench marks and goals that we set for ourselves. Stress is a necessary part of our survival.

So how can we balance and be motivated by the things that stress us out as financial professionals? How can we prevent the negative “stressors” and find ways cope with “stressors” in ways that are inspiring and productive?

Below is a list of strategies for turning stress into a benefactor for you and your business:

Identify the stressors

Know what stresses you out so you can either prevent those situations or know how to handle them in a productive way.

Reframe the situation

Change your self talk! A broker dealer that makes it hard for you to do business isn’t going to ruin your life – it’s a great opportunity go out and find an awesome new firm! A correction in the market isn’t a death sentence – it’s a chance to show how credible you are and set a good example of patience and confidence. There is always a bright side.

Make your days as turnkey as possible

When you have an “if this, than that” system in place, it will eliminate the need to make decisions as the day wears on. The idea is to minimize surprises, tasks sneaking up on you, and engaging in unproductive activities.

o   Creating a calendar

-  Ex. If it’s a Monday, that’s when I call to confirm the appointment’s I’ve set for the week.

-   Ex. If it’s a Friday, that’s when I send out my handwritten notes/thank you cards for the week.

o   Schedule your entire week down to the minute ahead of time

-  Know your money making activities and how you’ll be spending your time

o   Creating policies

-  Ex. I will not allow my assistant to pass “x” type of call along to me when I’m in “x” type of meeting.

-  Ex. I will not work past “x” time on “x” day

-  Ex. I schedule my meetings for 55 minutes instead of 60

o   Automate as much as you can based on work flow templates and sequences

Make time throughout the day to unwind a bit

Imagine trying to run a marathon without stopping to drink some water. Or going on a 8 hour hike without taking a second to eat some trail mix. Or working 10 hours straight including five back to back client meetings without taking a break. You gotta give your mind and body a little peace, quiet, and TLC. Whether it’s a 20 minute walk or five minutes or deep breathing – it will make a difference

Do something that makes someone else feel less stressed

There was a study published by Clinical Psychology Science that showed that people who lended a helping hand to someone in need reported feeling happier throughout the day than those who did not. Additionally, on the days when the participants in the study did not help others, they reported stronger and negative emotional reactions to stress. 

Research also shows that acts of caregiving release oxytocian, a feel good chemical that results in calm and postive emotions.  

Consider creating and advisor support group in your community

Why, might you ask, am I always emphasizing the importance of networking and collaboration? BECAUSE IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. Learn best practices from other professionals, use other successful advisors as a sounding board, and gain referral partners.


When you exercise:

o   Your brain releases endorphins, which will relieves pain symptoms and makes you feel euphoric

o   Your brain focuses on whats happening to your body and your activity rather than any work or personal stress

o   You will have higher levels on confidence and overall improved mood throughout the day


By simply taking a couple minutes to write down your thoughts, you can gain clarity in your thought processes, patterns, and triggers. Journaling will help you better understand your experiences, feelings, and self.

Do fun things that have nothing to do with work

Take some YOU time! Hang out with your friends! Go to that concert or basketball game! You deserve it. And you’ll thank yourself for it.

Read this book!

I met Dr. Jack Singer at a conference a couple years ago after his seminar on stress mastery. He is a practicing psychologist and professional speaker who specializes in Clinical, Sport, and Industrial/Organizational Psychology. We stayed in touch for a bit after the conference and he sent me a copy of his book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide, which I highly recommend.

In fact, this book was one of the major inspirations for this blog.

And of course, I’d be remisced if I forgot to mention one of my obvious solutions – have something in your back pocket (OTHER THAN BONDS) to provide some downside protection to your clients portfolio.

If you’d be interested in learning about a strategy many of our top reps are using that returned over 4% in 2008 with no fees, schedule a call with me by CLICKING HERE.

Have a beautiful and stress free day! Look forward to talking to you soon!

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