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Kitces & Carl Ep 129: How Autonomy, Experience, And Team Drive Advisor Wellbeing

As the beginning of the new year invites a fresh start, it’s a fitting time to reflect on our own wellbeing and the elements that make us happy in life. While many believe they understand what brings them joy, it can be difficult to recognize the patterns that consistently enhance wellbeing and happiness. The most recent Kitces Research Study on What Actually Contributes To Advisor Wellbeing sheds light on this topic, revealing some of the factors that contribute most to positive wellbeing for advisors and offering insight into the common themes for advisors who enjoy their lives the most. And the truth lies in the data.

In our 129th episode of Kitces & Carl, Michael Kitces and Carl Richards discuss the latest results from the 2023 Kitces Research on Advisor Wellbeing, which analyzes over 87 different variables that contribute to an advisor’s state of happiness and reveals a handful of key patterns that contribute to wellbeing.

As a starting point, the research study reveals that the factor reported as most associated with advisor wellbeing was their level of autonomy when it comes to the freedom over how work and business is run and the ability to serve clients in the way one believes they deserve to be served. Having some level of freedom to structure our lives and careers has a strong impact on the happiness of advisors in the industry.

The second biggest driver of advisor wellbeing is experience, as the number of years spent serving clients and climbing the financial advisor ladder was directly correlated with happiness. More specifically, the years of client-facing experience and the ability to structure a career that promotes successful navigation of the early years of the job, which are often the most difficult, were often found to be crucial for advisors’ wellbeing and helping them to develop into seasoned industry professionals who were most satisfied with their jobs.

Team support is another vital component of advisor wellbeing, as advisors with a supportive team who they could rely on to delegate tasks were found to be happier in general. By contrast, advisors without such support, working together only with other associates sharing a client list in the pursuit of their own careers, do not exhibit the same level of happiness and wellbeing. Notably, while the advisors without support didn’t appear to be less happy, they simply didn’t report an increase in wellbeing.

Ultimately, the key point is that advisor happiness and wellbeing are very closely related to an advisor’s ability to focus on what is most important to them as individuals, structuring their lives around the ability to call their own shots, gaining the wisdom and experience that comes from sticking with a career path, and having the true support that can allow the other factors to be possible!

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