June 19, 2015 / 12:20 PM / 2 years ago

Advisers should recharge selves, not phones, in summer

Tourists view the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Indian Reservation near Peach Springs, Arizona May 6, 2011.Joshua Lott

(Reuters) - When financial adviser Gordon Bernhardt hiked back up from the bottom of the Grand Canyon five years ago, he knew he had one of the best experiences of his life.

His joy stemmed not just from the sights, but days without cellphone service.

“The energy I felt was self-evident,” said the founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management in McLean, Virginia.

Summer is a good time for advisers to learn how to take a real break and recharge. Given the “epidemic proportions” of our addiction to smart phones, learning how to sign out and turn off is becoming vital for our mental health and well-being, said Larry Rosen, a psychology professor, researcher, and author of the book “iDisorder.”

“If you are constantly connected, it will eventually wear you down,” he said.

The good news for advisers who cannot or will not go completely off-grid, as Bernhardt did, is that disconnecting completely need not be the goal, Rosen said. Instead, people can learn to place limits on their use of smartphones and computers while vacationing and at the end of the workday.

Delegation is the key to achieving this goal, along with along with letting colleagues and clients know that you will be away, said Nancy Popovich, a managing director with The Wise Investor Group at Baird in Reston, Virginia.

Popovich leaves her trusted team in charge. If she strays from her rule about not checking in while she is on vacation, she gets dead air in response, her team’s way of telling her everything is under control and urging her to focus on her time away.

“You have to give up control and empower people around you,” Popovich said.

Popovich always feels reinvigorated and refocused when she comes back, she said.

But some advisers cannot help checking in during their leisure time.

Joe Belfatto, a partner at Massey Quick in Morristown, New Jersey, deals with that inclination by limiting his vacation contact with the office to no more than one hour a day. He meets with his team before leaving and designates someone to handle his clients’ concerns outside of that hour.

“You need that ability to step away, recharge, and enjoy yourself,” Belfatto said. “It’s a real challenge with all we’re faced with today.”

Even solo advisers, or those building their careers, can achieve balance and incorporate precious time to unplug and recharge every day, said Colleen Schon, a managing director at Anthem Advisors of Raymond James in Clarkston, Michigan. The key: Communicate boundaries early on,

“I set the tone at the very beginning, with my firm and my clients,” Schon said.

Ever since, she has been able to leave the office behind at night and while on vacation to focus on her family and interests.

The practice makes her a better adviser, Schon said.

“It’s so important for your mental health, to unplug,” she said. “You’re going to burn out if you don’t.”

Reporting by Hilary Johnson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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