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Poll: Industry Workers Stressed and Depressed

SuperUser Account posted on December 16, 2010

Mariah Summers

The typical asset and wealth management job is not only depressing, but stressful as well. That’s according to a plurality of respondents in a FundFire poll.

Roughly 44%, or 132 voters, said that work-induced anxiety and depression are common occurrences. That made it the top sentiment expressed in a FundFire survey asking readers if their job is depressing, stressful, neither or both.

In addition to the group that labeled their job both depressing and stressful, 25% said their professional role is only stressful, while 13% only labeled their job depressing.

About 19%, or 58 voters, had contrasting views, saying their job is neither stressful nor depressing and that they really enjoy their work.

The poll’s results come after health.com released a study of the most depressing jobs, in which financial advisor ranked near the top, as FundFire reported.

Industry observers say Wall Street professionals face plenty of volatility in their jobs, which contributes to higher amounts of stress and frustration, especially in the private banking sector.

“I think that client-facing people, whether they’re private bankers or relationship managers … are probably more stressed out and depressed than their counterparts in wirehouses,” says Allan Starkie, partner at recruitment firm Knightsbridge Advisors. “My reason for that is that the collapse of the credit markets has had a terrible adverse effect on private banks because they’re considerably more focused on credit.”

“In a very, very tight credit market like this, we’re seeing a very large endemic inability to bring in assets, and that’s bringing in an incredible amount of stress to the advisors,” he adds. “Clients are sitting on a great deal of cash, which is affecting both the wirehouses and the private banks.”

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Another industry observer, though, says things may not really be as bad for wealth management professionals as they seem.

“Being a financial advisor is like having kids,” says Rick Rummage, managing partner of The Rummage Group, a recruiting firm for financial advisors. “It can sometimes break your heart, but you really love it anyway. Most advisors are not really depressed. It’s a love-hate relationship with the industry. It’s a strong, strong love, and a little bit of hate.”

Rummage says the downside for advisors comes in the form of a volatile environment and a lack of control. However, he adds, most advisors believe the benefits outweigh the costs that come with the profession.

“The truth is there’s about a 90% failure rate in the business, so just to make it in the business is near impossible. That’s depressing,” Rummage says. “Then when you make it in the business, it’s cyclical, so you’re working in a volatile market and that’s stressful. A very small percentage are really depressed, and the rest are just a little stressed at times.

“You get really frustrated when you can’t control something, but you’re not going to leave it because you’re never going to make that kind of money and have this kind of freedom,” he adds.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 302 FundFire subscribers had participated in the poll, which is an unscientific sampling of the publication’s subscribers. Readers voted only once on a voluntary basis. FundFire’s audience consists of financial advisors, money managers, institutional investors and service providers.