As financial advisors can attest, their career can be challenging and, at times, stressful. But as the results of our just-released FlexShares Advisor Wellness Study indicate, being a financial advisor also can be immensely rewarding—and not just from a compensation perspective.
Advisors as a group enjoy high levels of satisfaction with their jobs, their lives and their work-life balance. Overall, 81% say they like their job better than the average person, up from 79% in 2018. Even better, job satisfaction increases with age and tenure in the business.
- What advisors value most about their job may not be apparent
- Career satisfaction comes from helping people and forging relationships
- The flexibility of a financial advice career can have significant appeal
Advantages of a Career in Financial Planning
Especially for those involved in advisor recruitment, insights into job satisfaction among advisors can be valuable. So what makes an advisor’s job so satisfying? Surprisingly, it’s not earnings. For a career that typically is highly compensated and focuses on money, advisors ranked income near the bottom in terms of satisfaction drivers. The three dominant reasons for satisfaction were:
- the ability to help people and provide service (the overwhelming first choice)
- independence and flexibility
- the quality of the relationships that advisors form
Let's look at each.
1. A helping profession
When asked what they loved most about their job, 58% of our survey respondents said it was having the ability and opportunity to help people and provide service. As advisors know so well, providing information and guidance about matters related to investments and finances involves much more than money and numbers. The real job of an advisor is to understand a client’s dreams, hopes and goals for the future, and then develop a plan that gets them there.
Investments are certainly an important part of an advisor’s tool kit, but essentially they are a means to an end. Advisors learn quickly that true satisfaction comes not from selecting an investment that outperforms the stock market but, to cite one example, from seeing parents provide for a special-needs child even after they are gone, no matter what happens. Or by making sure a widow never has to burden her children for support. An advisor’s unique body of knowledge, often encompassing taxes, insurance, Social Security benefits and, of course, investments, can add immeasurable value to a client’s life.
Advisors who have worked with the same clients over many years see firsthand how their advice has positively affected their clients. That’s one reason, perhaps, our survey found that career satisfaction steadily increases with age. This could be why, as our survey also found, many advisors work into their 70s and even 80s.
Advisors learn quickly that true satisfaction comes not from selecting an investment that outperforms the stock market but, to cite one example, from seeing parents provide for a special-needs child even after they are gone, no matter what happens.
2. A profession with flexibility and independence
Regardless of the advisory channel in which they work—and survey respondents spanned the gamut from wire houses and regional firms to independent firms and hybrids to RIAs and bank brokerages—advisors value the independence and flexibility that comes with their job. In fact, almost 19% said it’s what they love most about being an advisor.
Independence and flexibility can take many forms. In a basic sense, it’s the freedom from “punching a time clock,” even if only metaphorically. As long as advisors do a good job for clients and, hopefully, are able to attract more clients, they are typically free to do their job in a way that suits them best. Many potentially successful financial advisors may not be aware of this aspect of the career.
3. An opportunity to build successful relationships
Because, as we noted above, financial and investment advice is a helping profession, it is also a people business. While someone who loves analytics and data may make a stellar portfolio manager or strategist, it’s successful interpersonal skills that make for great financial advisors. And because of those skills, advisors often build rewarding long-term relationships with clients as well as others in their firm, their community and the financial advice industry. More than 13% of advisors in our survey said that the relationships they have forged are what they love most about their job.
For those in the advice profession and those looking to attract new financial advisors, knowing what really drives advisor satisfaction can help inform better decision-making.