Dear Financial Advisor - An Open Letter
April 13th, 2020
Dear Financial Advisor,
I am worried about you. Yes, you. I am not as concerned with your clients or your staff. You are doing a great job of taking care of them. My concern is for you. Who is taking care of you? I think of your day like this: You wake up and look at the market. It doesn’t matter what is going on with the market because you do not usually make decision-based on what the market is doing in the short term. A green day to start, however, is always a little easier. You get less panicked calls on green days. You then may or may not shower as you may or may not go into the office. Once you are at your computer, you start to make outgoing calls to clients that you think would like to hear from you. They are appreciative that you called. You spend a little time on their finances and a lot of time on how they feel. You assure them that everything will be all right. You assure them that you accounted for this in their financial plan. You assure them that this, too, will end. In assuring them of all this, you allay their anxiety. The problem is that when you take away their worry, you add a little bit of it to your own stack of worry.
You are just as human as your client.
You have your own business worries, your own retirement account worries, your own family finance worries. The issue, of course, is that you do not have you to call to take those worries away. Once you have called or taken calls from stressed-out clients, your day is not done. Oh, no. You have a staff that has been taking punches all day and need you to help them back up again. They need your guiding light to give them the same assurances that you gave your clients. Many of your team will be client-facing advisors themselves. They have been making the same calls as you did all day. They perhaps more than any need your light. So, you give a little more of yourself to them. You help them back up.
But who is there for you? Who is there to give you hope?
We all see the incredibly courageous doctors, nurses, and first responders on the news every night. They are on the front lines of this pandemic, and they are literally putting themselves and their families in harm’s way. I feel that right behind them stand pastors, teachers, therapists, social workers, financial advisors, and many other professions. My sister is a Lutheran Pastor in Virginia. Throughout her career, she has been strongly encouraged to seek out a spiritual advisor for counseling. She like you, takes on a lot of her congregation’s problems, and gives them hope. She needs someone to look out for her emotions and feelings. Thankfully she is emboldened to do so. I have many friends who are psychologists. They are also encouraged to have their own therapists to help them stay empathic to their patients and not become sympathetic to their fears. Financial advisors should also have a similar avenue to remain healthy, especially at a time like this.
Your role in securing America’s confidence is crucial.
You need to take care of yourself. Part of that care is finding someone you trust to talk to about the things that are happening to you. Therapists and counselors come to mind, but so does other financial advisors. Who would know more what it is like to be you in this market than another advisor? My guess is if you reached out to a fellow financial advisor, you would find an empathic ear. You would be helping them as much as helping yourself. My point is that you do not have to go through this alone. Share your feelings and experiences. Have some mercy on yourself.
One of my psychologist friends worked almost exclusively with cancer patients. The work took a toll on her health, but she felt that she had found her calling. She even had a nasty fight with cancer herself. She gave me something that I have always remembered, and I give it to you today. She told her patients to say this when things got bad. “I do the best I can, and some days are better than others.” Say that out loud when the stress gets intense. I promise it will help. I care about you, and I am not alone in that, just like you are not alone in this.
Matt Miller, CFP®, MPSY, BFA
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