Managing Specific Stressors Inherent to Financial Advisors

By Dr. Jack Singer

Besides having to deal with the “life stressors” we all experience, such as marital/family challenges, the death of parents, chronic illnesses, and the like, financial advisors are faced with a multitude of potential stressors directly related to their profession. Fortunately, by using some simple methods, these stressors inherent to financial advisors can be managed.

Many advisors find themselves overwhelmed by these stressors.  Whether it’s market fluctuations, hostile and impatient clients, a difficult and demanding office manager, prospecting for new clients or balancing work and family needs, advisors often tell me that they believe that the job controls their lives and as a result, they feel helpless and hopeless as far as mastering their stress levels.

In my success coaching with advisors, I find that teaching them a simple way to categorize job stressors can often help them to actually take control and manage them much easier.

Categorizing Financial Advisor Job-Related Stressors

If you categorize situations/stressors affecting your life according to four “types”–important/changeable, important/unchangeable,  unimportant/changeable and unimportant/unchangeable– you can determine which stressors to work on and which to relatively ignore and let go of.

Many stressors will either never be under your control (unchangeable) or they are they are relatively unimportant in your daily life, so you can stop worrying about them. Let go of stressors that are unimportant (boxes 2 and 4 in the Table below) and let go of stressors you have little or no control over even if they are important (box 3 in the Table below).

Another Advisor Success Story

George was on the brink of quitting his advising job because he constantly felt overwhelmed by stressors…those inherent in his advising role plus those outside of work.  Seeing no way to control those stressors, he was feeling helpless and saw no solution, other than changing careers. George and I broke down his stressors into the following four categories:

George’s Important/Changeable Stressors

  • Feeling pressure to build his book of business
  • Dealing with difficult and abusive clients
  • Working for a difficult and demanding office manager
  • Having constant due diligence concerns about fiduciary and compliance demands
  • Complaints from his wife about the amount of time George spends with his family
  • Feeling overwhelmed with self-defeating thoughts about his future

George’s Important/Unchangeable Stressors

  • Market volatility
  • The economic situation
  • World politics and terrorism
  • Unexpected family issues or illness, taking his time away from the job.

George’s Unimportant/Changeable Stressors

  • Running errands on the way home from the office
  • Volunteering to take on extra projects at the office
  • Working in the office to finish paperwork before going home

George’s Unimportant/Unchangeable Stressors

  • Dealing with bad weather during his commute to work
  • Being stuck in slow traffic
  • Comparing his book of business to a colleague’s
  • Having to deal with long lines during his lunch break

We categorized George’s stressors in the simple table, below:



Once George actually looked at all of the stressors impacting him, and categorized them according to these four “types,” it became obvious that he was putting a lot of energy worrying about stressors that were either relatively unimportant or out of his control (unchangeable).  Categorizing his stressors made them much more manageable. 

First, George stopped worrying about stressors that were unchangeable (boxes 3 and 4).  Obviously, if he had no control over them, why fret about them?  Second, he pushed the unimportant stressors that were changeable (box 2) to the back burner, because they did not play a major role in his daily life.

By focusing only on what George viewed as his important and changeable stressors, and learning how to manage them, George felt empowered to actually take charge of those stressors, thus eliminating his “helpless” feelings. In a matter of weeks, George felt much relief and had a renewed sense of control and optimism regarding his career.

Your Action Plan:

  • Get a piece of paper and construct 4 boxes, as in the Table above.
  • Label the boxes with the four titles above.
  • List all of the stressors that impact you regularly and place them in the appropriate box, according to importance and changeability.
  • Focus on eliminating or managing those stressors that you consider to be important and are changeable and put all the others on the back burner. For help managing these important and changeable stressors, refer to my book, The Financial Advisor’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide.