As a Financial Planner and business owner who wears many hats, including occasional dabbling in Paraplanning when the workload is high, stress is an element part of my life. It shouldn’t be that way and, like most of us I suspect, it ebbs and flows rather than appears continuously.
Probably the most common daily stress we face is the sheer volume of workload. Our firm is now working with 350 high net worth families, looked after by four Financial Planners, supported by three administrators and six Paraplanners.
In a typical month, we’re producing around 30 review reports and engaging with 15 new clients. There is a marketing machine support this level of activity, and within the firm, there’s an investment committee driving the portfolio recommendations for our clients, as well as in-house compliance work and regulatory reporting taking place.
Moreover, of course, there’s the business to run, with all that entails. We hold a monthly board meeting, where the senior leadership team can spend half a day focusing on the strategic issues, trying our best to keep these away from the day-to-day. There are accounting and payroll, human resources, and the management of two office buildings to consider too.
What makes all of this possible, and keeps stress levels (usually) in check is a team of great people with authority to make decisions in the best interests of our clients. There’s a clear structure within the business, with each team and individual understanding their role and responsibilities.
However, all too often there is fire-fighting to tackle. It’s this, especially when combined with a high volume of work, that causes the most significant daily stresses.
When a product provider screws something up, it’s stressful. It’s stressful because we care about getting it right for our clients and providing things in a timely fashion. When one part of the advice chain can’t provide accurate information quickly, it reflects poorly on all of us.
Another cause of stress is when people, for whatever reason, fail to follow a predefined process. We have systems and procedures in place for many reasons, not least due to their regulatory importance, and because they drive efficiency into a business.
Doing something in a certain way, consistently, has to be better for a business and its ability to deliver service to clients that reinventing the wheel daily or deviating from a process to slightly better suit individual circumstances.
Despite its occasional stress and frustrations, the Financial Planning profession remains one of the most exciting, vibrant and rewarding there is. It’s been particularly heartening in the past couple of years to see three of my younger colleagues progressing into Financial Planning roles, as they acquire new knowledge, skills and experience.
Martin Bamford FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner
Managing Director, Informed Choice Ltd