For Advisors, Stress is Part of the Territory

Are you stressed? According to a recent poll, the job of financial advisor is the third best in the country in terms of long-term growth potential and income, but the tradeoff is higher stress.

Are you stressed? According to a recent poll, the job of financial advisor is the third best in the country in terms of long-term growth potential and income, but the tradeoff is higher stress.

Despite an average annual salary of $122,500, a 26 percent 10-year job-growth rate and 6,100 average annual job openings, financial advisors conceded the top two spots in the poll to software engineers and college professors. Why? Stress.

Financial advisors received a “B” grade in the categories of “flexibility,” “creativity and “ease of entry,” but were given a “C” in the category of stress in the poll conducted by Money magazine and Salary.com. That doesn’t surprise Alden Cass, a clinical psychologist and president of Catalyst Strategies Group. Cass works with a variety of stressed and burned-out Wall Street professionals, including financial advisors. “It’s a hypercompetitive business,” says Cass—whether that competition is for wealthy clients, attention from branch managers, referrals or choice investment opportunities like IPOs and private equity.

And as the business grows, the stress levels will likely keep pace. That’s because despite a number of factors that should contribute to booming growth for financial advisors—defined-benefit pensions are dying out, baby boomers are retiring, Generation X is more financial savvy and reaching its peak earnings years—it’s getting harder and harder to succeed in the business. Recruiters say that fact is borne out by the brokerage industry’s 10 percent to 20 percent success rates for training programs. “For the young guys, the initial expectations of the job aren’t being met, the financial reward versus the stress isn’t matching up,” says Cass.

Think you're stressed? An overview of the causes of stress and techniques on managing it are available here. Or take a simple stress test to find out. Perhaps all you need is a dog or a cat (seriously, see this study), but a support group can also help. You can email questions or concerns to Alden Cass, the “Stock Doc,” at [email protected], or visit his site to learn more. Says Cass: “A lot of people don’t realize they’re burned out.”

In the poll, Money magazine and Salary.com rated only jobs that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects will grow at an above-average rate over 10 years and that require at least a bachelor’s degree. Using Salary.com compensation data, they eliminated jobs with average pay below $50,000, total employment of less than 15,000 jobs, dangerous work environments or fewer than 800 annual openings. Then they rated positions based on stress levels, flexibility in hours and working environment, creativity and how easy it is to enter and advance in the field.

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