Why are Financial Advisors so stressed?


I’ve been a financial advisor for two years. Financial advisory is an enriching journey, and every job has varying stress, but this is different. The stress was clearly reflected in my lack of sleep and weight gain (ten kilos, to be exact). Financial advisors are highly stressed than other professionals but why is that so?

Jack of all trades

The financial advisor wears multiple hats in this job. From the onset, he is the lead generator, marketer, salesman and servicing personnel all in one. Most come into the job not knowing how to do any of these. The initial learning curve is hence very steep. Coupled with the pressure to break the egg, the journey proves to  be more overwhelming than expected.

Do we really expect the average financial advisor to be savvy with product differentiation and product knowledge and sell these products, right after a two-month crash course? What about investment market trends? Speaking of sales, is the advisor then really advising or selling? Compounding these issues with management KPIs makes advisor’s role challenging.

“Give us this day our daily dough.”

Most advisors are remunerated on a commission-basis. Before you imagine a huge pipeline of customers and a fat bank account, think again. Sales is cyclical meaning there will be good and bad months. Without a basic salary and consistent sales, this leads to an unstable income with physical needs on the line. Will this be solved by merely securing more appointments? Is it sustainable? Unlikely.

Many advisors start off by reaching out to their social circle, known as their warm market. At some point, they will exhaust their warm leads and reach out to the cold market. Cold-calling and canvassing are common prospecting ways which are notoriously ineffective. Reckon this: will you actually entrust your money to a stranger whom you’ve met for barely five minutes?

In developed markets like Singapore, insurers are constantly competing for a bigger share in a market where most people would have basic insurance coverage. The struggle then involves up-selling products on top of what most people already have, blurring the line between boosting one’s financial portfolio and mis-selling. This is a potential compliance risk where advisors can face ethical conundrums here.

In general, many have a subconscious aversion towards advisors since people are typically wary towards sales personnel, making advisors even more desperate. The end result? A stigmatized industry. We perceive financial advisors as pushy, and unscrupulous because these traits are fairly common even as obnoxious and aggressive sales tactics prevail.

Flexing is abs-olutely uncool

Familiar with “successful” advisors flashing their BMWs and Rolexes on social media?  All these flexing is part of personal branding and wrongly assumes that trust is given because of the advisor’s “success”. However, this success is only defined superficially and materially which kills relational trust. The ultimate question begs to be asked:

“Is the advisor selling this because I need it or am I merely enabling his flexing?”

Using successful consultants as role-models to emulate, insurers often dangle ridiculous wealth before success-hungry advisors as an attainable goal. For most people, this is a lie. By juxtaposing these elusive ambitions with present reality, the discrepancy can cause one to be self-beating and perpetuate the desperation-hard sell-rejection cycle.

The double blue tick

Rejection is the advisor’s old-time friend. While it can build resilience, perpetual rejection can be hurtful and damaging for the advisor over the long run. Rejection from a loved one is harder and can be isolating. Detached and labelled, how can the average advisor build trust and bring in the sales? With this emotional tension, no wonder advisors are so stressed.

Finally, don’t cast the first stone

If you meet an advisor, try to be kind. The bad rep is understandable but restrain from casting the first stone. Everyone has their battles to fight, even them. With some luck and discernment, you will find an advisor who truly cares for you and your needs.

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