Working in financial services can be a rewarding experience that allows flexibility and control over work/life balance. However, this is only the case if advisers’ diaries and workloads are managed effectively.
In the same way that being a financial adviser can be liberating, it can also become all-consuming, with many advisers struggling to strike the right balance.
Failure to ensure a respect for work/life balance can lead to advisers struggling to maintain the high standards that they expect from themselves, with a large proportion of them burning out entirely.
Burnout is a very common issue amongst professionals in financial services with 31% of workers leaving the industry due to the unrelenting pressure placed upon them, according to LemonEdge.
In an attempt to highlight this and uncover some possible solutions, IFA Magazine asked three current financial advisers how they avoid burnout and continue to strike that right balance between work and leisure.
Bhushan Malik, an Independent Financial Adviser at Sevenaar, utilises technology as a means to streamline his workload. Online meetings and calls combined with structured and organised scheduling allow Bhushan to properly regulate his working hours.
Bhushan Malik said: “Serving clients remotely reduces the need to travel and saves time. This has especially worked well since the pandemic as many people have become more comfortable being served over Teams/Zoom calls. It also helps to schedule your meetings with clients around specific times.
“For example, I dedicate the mornings to my work and the remainder of the day for any client meetings. This avoids having meetings on an ad hoc basis. Automating and scheduling client reports also reduces the amount I spend on generating them. Using technology plays a big part in automating rudimentary tasks.
“I also believe having a hobby plays a big role in reducing the stress levels. I play the piano sometimes when taking a break in between meetings and also at the end of the day.”
Whilst Bhushan has adopted a technological method as a way of avoiding burnout, Gordon Keane, a Financial Planner and Mortgage Adviser at Quilter, has utilised the ever more popular route of home-working with the belief that working in short intense bursts with regular breaks allows him to maximise his efficiency without it impacting his mental well-being.
Gordon Keane said: “My health suffered through sitting, sedentary, at a desk all day and my weight increased as I refused to budge from my seat. I was leaving the house at 6am and getting home at 6pm and the last thing I wanted to do was exercise or go anywhere.
“Now I am working from home, and I have strict rules to make sure I am making the most of my time. My strategy won’t suit everyone, but it certainly fits my lifestyle and allows me to get that balance. I rise at 5.45am and I am at my desk for 6am. I invested in an electric, height adjustable, desk. This means that I can stand up for periods and try to work ok my posture. I try and get a lot of my intensive work done at this time, knowing there won’t be any interruptions from phone calls or emails.”
“As a keen tennis player, I go to my local club at 10am and either have a couple of hours of tennis or go to the gym and health suite. It’s great because it’s quieter and easy to get courts or get machines in the gym! I get home for 12pm and have lunch with my partner, who also works from home. We go downstairs and sit at the dining table and get a chance to have a chat about the morning. I then get back to the grind and get any phone calls or emails done, and generally any of my work that involves contacting people or client meetings.
“My working day is normally finished off with a 6pm client meeting and then I can chill out for the remainder of the evening. It may sound like a long day, but I am taking advantage of quiet times to do the things I enjoy and break up the working day. I think it’s important to work in bursts to keep energy levels up.”
Finally, Nicola Crosbie, financial planner at Moran Wealth Management has highlighted how she overcomes the difficult task of balancing a busy workweek with her family life.
Nicola Crosbie said: “Working smarter in our profession is always a conundrum – time management helps me combat this. Personally, for me, I find allocating client facing focus days each week is my solution, breaking this up with buffer admin days. This allows me to entirely be in the client zone, empathetic & tuned into listening, with days to restore my energy levels and tackle the work that is needed to solve their problems or pass onto the back-office team to action.
“I prefer no meetings on a Friday/Monday to help me unwind for the family weekend and Monday lets me strategize for the week ahead. As a working Mum, having the non-client days at home means I balance tasks like cooking dinner or the many loads of washing at the same time. I can also spend time with my overzealous puppy and build in walks for exercise as part of the day, which helps keep me focused.
“I am a great note taker and list writer which allows me to set out what I need to achieve in a week and what can be tackled over the longer term. It helps me feel in control of my workload, rather than all consumed by it.”
So, if one of the goals in your own plan for 2023 is to improve your work/life balance, it seems that being aware of it is in the first place is essential. As is the fact that success involves adopting long-term changes.
However, identifying the need for action and then initiating some practical steps which you can take to help you work towards achieving greater balance are great ways to start. Not only is your professional productivity and efficiency likely to benefit, but your overall happiness and wellbeing are likely to be beneficiaries too. What’s not to like in that?