Advisors and the work-life balance: Make the time to take the time

By Marvin Feldman

After years of experience, I’ve learned this business will absorb all your time and energy if you let it, leaving little time for much else.

The result can be a high level of tension and frustration. One of the secrets to success is striving for work-life balance. Taking time to focus on my family and other aspects of my personal life has enabled me to be a better businessman. I simply had to make creating balance in my life — both personally and professionally — a priority.

Family, productivity and professionalism respectively have taken precedence in my life for as long as I can remember. I believe you must have a combination of all three to succeed as a financial professional. Each component has a way of hinging on the other to create a balanced lifestyle.

The key to balance for me, particularly when I first entered the industry, was to plan for family time just as I did for my business. At the age of 21, my wife and I put together our life plan, outlining goals for our future family. We have stuck to our plan for 45 years and counting. It was decided then I would work Monday through Thursday each week as late as I needed to, so long as I was home for dinner on Friday night. Then, Saturday my wife and I carved out time for each other and Sunday was all about the kids. It’s a schedule that always seemed to work for us and helped me to feel I was accommodating each aspect of my life.

To attain a high level of productivity, I found it vital to identify specific areas of expertise, rather than trying to be a jack of all trades. Doing so helped me become an expert in estate planning and the small business market. This decision allowed me to refine my practice to focus on the areas in which I was truly interested.

Being a specialist further lends itself to great referrals and very little time wasted — ideal if you want to spend adequate time with your family while building a successful career.

As for professionalism, throughout my career I’ve consistently made a point to be a student of the business. Continued education to acquire relevant designations has heightened my credibility, especially in key practice areas, along with my level of professionalism. Joining, and being active in industry associations affords me the opportunity to connect with my peers and stay on the cutting edge of new trends in our profession. The Million Dollar Round Table’s Whole Person concept serves as a constant reminder of the importance of balancing work, life and success.
In addition to MDRT, I have been a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) for 45 years and consider this to be an excellent investment for protecting the future of our industry. NAIFA’s lobbying efforts have been very successful on both a state and national level and, along with the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU), have been critical in preserving the important elements of the products that protect our clients.

To counteract the stress that can accompany the demands of the financial services business, make a concerted effort to find balance in your day-to-day activities. And make your family part of your team. Help your spouse and children understand what you do and why. Get them involved in your goals so they are part of your support team. You hear “no” all day long in this business. The more your family understands, the less you’ll hear negativity about your business when you go home. If you don’t make the time, you may allow your work to absorb all your time and energy. Balancing all aspects of my life has not only made me a better businessman, but a better husband and father as well.