By Suzanne Patrick-Lawrence
It’s no surprise that worrying about money causes significant stress—our finances are so much more than just numbers. A study by Northwestern Mutual found that money and finances were overwhelmingly the leading cause of stress for Americans, (1) which isn’t surprising given that money touches so many facets of our lives.
Although financial advisors are experts at wealth management and financial planning, most advisors aren’t exempt from experiencing financial stress. Many financial advisors are high earners, which means they must confront the challenges of saving for a secure, comfortable retirement that maintains their current lifestyle.
Additionally, advisors are constantly managing the emotions of their clients. When markets perform poorly, clients reach out to their financial advisors first looking for reassurance. But market volatility affects everyone, and oftentimes advisors themselves are working to manage their own worry about how the markets are impacting their future goals.
How Does Financial Stress Impact The Brain?
Because our finances are so closely tied to our security and even our social status, experiencing financial problems—or managing others’ financial problems—can easily trigger a fight-or-flight response in our brains. The fight-or-flight response is a primitive survival mechanism that evolved in our brains to help our ancestors survive. When the fight-or-flight response kicks in, the brain is flooded with stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. (2)
These neurological chemicals usually result in physiological reactions, such as racing heart, quickened breathing, tensing muscles, and increased sweating. These reactions are hard on the body, especially in today’s world where we’re not actually being chased by a hungry lion. Instead, we’re more than likely sitting at our desks, thinking about possible scenarios that may never come to pass, and experiencing these physiological responses without ever needing to use them.
Money & Mental Health
Numerous studies have shown a relationship between people who worry about money and higher rates of depression. (3) Even if money doesn’t cause you to feel depressed, worrying about money can lead to anxiety, sleeping problems, or an inability to focus on important tasks.
Financial anxiety has also been linked to physical health problems, including an increase in migraines, weight gain, and diabetes. Not only are some of these illnesses life-threatening, but they can also lead to the need for expensive medical care. When people delay seeking care to keep costs down, this can lead to worsened health outcomes and higher costs down the road. (4)
Advisors think about, read about, and talk about financial topics daily with their clients. For you, money is your way of life. So when you’re worried about your own financial situation, these daily realities may exacerbate your anxiety and impact your job performance, which can quickly turn into a vicious cycle.
What Can You Do To Stop Worrying About Money?
Financial anxiety may cause you to spend more money just to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. For example, Americans spent over $42 billion on sleep aids in 2019, and that number is only expected to rise. (5) Other people turn to alcohol or shopping sprees to lessen their stress about money, which of course are only short-term “solutions” and may end up worsening the problem.
But you may not know how to break these cycles and address or solve the real causes of your financial worries. Indeed, the multitude of financial decisions and opportunities available to a single individual—even one who is an expert in financial matters—can cause “analysis paralysis” and prevent you from taking action at all.
Luckily, one study found that people who had assistance in making important financial decisions were 20% more likely to feel relaxed about their finances than individuals who had to make decisions on their own. (6) The study also found that positive emotional effects weren’t the only benefit of making financial decisions with assistance, but that brain performance and cognitive ability to make good decisions were also improved.
We Can Help You Mitigate Money Stress
Even though you may be an expert in finances yourself, everyone can benefit from partnering with another professional to make sure you’re weighing all your options. Whether you’re preparing for retirement, need help with an exit strategy from your firm, or are looking for ways to save your business money, you need a partner to help you navigate the muddy waters of financial decision-making and choose opportunities that are best for your unique situation.
At Advisor Business Solutions, we help financial advisors like you discover the optimal decisions that result in less stress. Take the first step and reach out to Advisor Business Solutions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 562-439-4804 to learn how we can help.
Suzanne Patrick-Lawrence is president and CEO of Advisor Business Solutions. She is a business planning and communications specialist with over 20 years of experience developing business and marketing strategies for financial services, global corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and small businesses. She is passionate about working with financial advisor practices seeking guidance, support, and structure to position their firms for a successful transition. To learn more about Suzanne, connect with her on LinkedIn.