When people initially think of financial advice they think of someone who makes sure you save enough for your retirement; who ensures you’ve got enough for your children’s future, basically to make sure the money is in order.
And obviously that is a big part of what we do, however, it’s far from the full picture. There’s been rightly growing attention on the power and need for ‘softer skills’ for financial advisers. This is about the emotional and personal side of financial advice – building relationships. And this is the reason I went into financial advice in the first place.
But the impact of building these relationships is, as an adviser, you join your clients on their life journey. And most of the time someone needs to see their financial adviser when there is a big life event and that includes death, serious illness, and divorce among other things.
Quite a number of my clients are widows that have never had to deal with the household finances in their lives. And sometimes it can be sad to see them alone struggling with things like moving boxes and setting up their Wi-Fi. And while, of course, I’m happy to help them do these tasks, when I leave I can’t help but wonder if they’ll be okay on their own.
As you become attached to your clients watching them go through these events can be difficult and have an impact on your own mental health. After several hours of listening to people and their issues, how do you process that, along with your own dilemmas?
Consider psychologists. They know that one of the most important things they need to do is have their own therapy. And our industry needs to ensure we are doing more to acknowledge that some of the work we deal with is emotionally challenging.
Today marks Time to Talk Day, a day which highlights the reality that mental health affects a huge proportion of our population. Statistically, one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. And yet many people don’t feel like they can talk about their issues or even acknowledge them in the first place.
It’s vital that our profession support each other and remember that you don’t have to be fine all the time.
Lauren Cowper is a financial adviser at Quilter Private Client Advisers