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Avoid Advisor Burnout

Ever leave the office feeling like you’ve “been through the ringer?” The latest Harvard Business Review offers some clues as to why, especially as a financial advisor, you might leave work feeling a bit drained. The premise of this article is this:

“We surveyed 68 managerial and professional employees every day for 15 consecutive workdays. We asked these employees to report how many times they responded to help requests from coworkers that day at work and whether their help had been beneficial to those they helped. We also measured their level of energy throughout the day. We found that, similar to running the first few miles of a long race, responding to one or two help requests was not particularly energy-sapping on a given day for helpers. However, as with running a full marathon, responding to numerous help requests was increasingly depleting for employees.”

Their focus was on the impact of helping coworkers, but think for a moment about the combined impact of an advisor helping coworkers and helping clients. It’s interesting to recognize, but don’t start the pity party just yet. Helping is very rewarding, which is precisely why most of you chose this career path. It’s just that the effort required can’t be taken lightly. 

Here are three tips on keeping your energy level high:

  1. Schedule yourself for maximum energy. As the article mentions, being a helper is tiring. Don’t schedule too many appointments on one day and give yourself a break between appointments. It might sound like a good idea to stack all of your appointments on two days, but your performance will suffer.
  2. The industry’s very best advisors exercise—you should too. If you’re in a rut, do something completely different. Join a regular spin class, take up tennis, etc. 
  3. Eat small, colorful meals throughout the day. This has an enormous impact on energy. You wouldn’t feed a thoroughbred with Ol’Roy dog food. Don’t feed yourself a belly-bomb burrito over lunch!

The more energy you have, morning til night, the more people you can help, and the more of your sanity you can keep. We’re not saying you should help less often. To the contrary, we think advisors should focus on helping more often. We just have to remind ourselves that mental and physical energy is depleted with usage, and we have to set ourselves up for optimum performance. 

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought leaders with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @StephenBoswell @KevinANichols

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