Is a 4-Day Work Week for Financial Advisors Possible?

Is a 4-Day Work Week for Financial Advisors Possible?

The average person will spend over 90,000 hours in a lifetime working a job. That is about a third of our lives behind the grindstone, trying to make enough money for the things we enjoy the most (as well as paying rent or a mortgage).

When you spend so much time at a job, you tend to lose sight of the other aspects your world has to offer. From enjoying a picnic with your partner to making sure the dog gets walked enough to drop a few pounds, finding that work-life balance is not exactly an easy task.

In an effort to help people from every industry, including financial advisors, some countries and companies are making a drastic new decision – the 4-day work week.

As someone who has been coaching financial advisors, investment executives, and finance professionals for nearly two decades, I’ve had a ringside view of the changes and challenges in the finance and investment fields. Drawing from my experience over this time, I believe it’s possible. But, how?

What is a 4-Day Work Week?

First, a quick history lesson. Back in the Industrial Revolution, it was common for workers to spend 12-14 hours a day at a mill or manufacturing center. You can imagine this led to some horrible outcomes, and a revolt was quick to follow. It was Henry Ford who popularized the optimal balance that would slow the revolt and increase productivity would be the 40-hour work week (5 days at 8 hours per day).

When the Great Depression hit, the U.S. Government cemented this idea. It was easy to see that companies would have to hire more workers to utilize the 40-hour work week, providing more people with money to spend on products and goods.

Many industry leaders have proposed the 4-day work week as a way to boost productivity. In 2020, Senator Joe Nguyen proposed a bill that would give workers 32 total hours, with guaranteed overtime of 1.5X. That is how popular this concept became.

Other options to consider would be 4 days at 10 hours per day or some combination of hours and days that differ from time to time.

The whole idea is to work for four days. Typically, this would be Monday through Thursday, with Friday only having essential team members or a rotation of those not working the traditional schedule. To be clear, this is wildly popular, with over 81% of full-time workers requesting a 4-day work week, especially workers aged 18-42.

Benefits of a 4-Day Work Week

Many countries are implementing the 4-day work week on a trial basis. The World Economic Forum showcases how these industries and cultures are benefiting from the practice. That includes:

Higher Productivity.

People working four days a week get more done in less time than those in the traditional 40 hours-a-week system, to the tune of 40%. This is because workers are far more aware and careful with their time management. Choosing efficiency over boredom.

Happier Workers.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize more free time to adventure, date, play, and live results in more satisfied employees. That reduces stress and burnout and leads to higher retention rates.

Eco-Friendly.

One day less at work means fewer commutes. That offers a significant drop in greenhouse gases from so many vehicles being on the road. It gives workers more time to properly walk, cycle, and recycle their items at home.

Better Mental Health.

When you have the freedom to enjoy more time away from work, you experience a boost in mental health. There is more time to recover from what you are trying to do at work. You can, for example, enjoy a lovely afternoon stroll in the woods or finally get to the city hall office for that permit you’ve been trying to secure.

Attraction & Retention.

More people want a 4-day work week. If your job offering uses this benefit as a feature on your job-seeking boards, you’ll have more interest and retention because you are providing a good pay check alongside a balanced work-life structure.

Lower Costs.

Having one less day to “turn on the lights” of your office means fewer expenses come your annual billing. That can be a double-edged sword tax-wise, but it is worth considering if you want a more streamlined operation.

Fewer Sick Days.

More time to rest and recover means a healthier workforce. That reduces the need for sick days as they have more time to sleep, workout, and prepare for the week ahead.

How Does this Affect Financial Advisors?

At the beginning of 2020, working from home or remotely, even for a financial advisor, was often taboo. In the past, we had all become so accustomed to in-person meetings that if we had an advisor calling in remotely from the French Riviera for a client meeting, it felt like the advisor wasn’t taking the client’s needs seriously.

Then Covid happened, and all that changed. Now, no one bats an eye when they are receiving financial advice from someone based in California but engaging in Zoom meetings from wherever he or she happens to be at the time of the meeting.

All that being said, there are some considerations unique to the FA industry that need to be considered before switching over to a 4-day work week.

Leadership Considerations

Leaders should be open to experimentation. If your financial team requests to try out the 4-day work week, go for a short-term trial so you can measure results. The point here is communication is critical. You need to be clear that this change doesn’t represent a decrease in responsibility but rather a shift in how the work should get done.

Emphasize Autonomy

One of the most significant factors for a successful 4-day work week is autonomy. Financial Advisors should have the liberty to manage their time effectively. However, this doesn’t mean leaving clients in the lurch. 

You want to give enough room for employees and team members to experiment with what schedule provides the best results. You may have one FA working with international clients that makes the Monday through Thursday situation optimal and another working with local clients that love a Wednesday through Saturday situation. 

What about clients who may need portfolio tweaks on Fridays?

While it’s absolutely feasible for Financial Advisors to have a shorter work week at least some of the time, care should be taken to cover the office on Fridays. Ensure there’s a team member available to monitor Friday phone calls and clients’ requests for trades in their accounts. You may be ready to make a change to the work week, but your clients may not be happy if their needs are not met every day of the week. 

Always have a communication and contact point available for your clients for typical hours. That way, you don’t sacrifice their needs for trying out something new internally. 

Measuring the Success of the 4-Day Work Week

Success should be measured both quantitatively (like client satisfaction scores, number of new clients) and qualitatively (employee morale, work-life balance). Regular check-ins are also essential to address any hiccups.

Outline the clear goals and parameters for the week, month, and year like you would in a traditional 40-hour work week. Communicate how much you are expecting your team to accomplish, given the time available. 

Odds are your team will feel more productive because they are more fulfilled with a work-life balance. Remember, this isn’t for everyone, and some may request to maintain the 40-hour work week, but having the hybrid model provides flexibility that many, especially younger workers, find highly appealing. 

Establishing Client Boundaries

This is crucial. Financial Advisors considering the 4-day model must establish boundaries with their clients. Requests for trades shouldn’t be made via voicemail, and clients should be informed about your availability to set clear expectations. 

Final Thoughts

The 4-day work week for financial advisors is more than just a trendy concept. This is a potential game-changer. With proper team support and clear communication with clients, it’s a model that can boost productivity, enhance job satisfaction, and foster a more balanced life. 

The few businesses that I’ve seen implement a 4-day work week often prioritize client meetings and client touch points, along with a great service model. When clients receive the communication and service they want, they will be happy. 

I think this is an experiment well worth the effort. It is already taking hold in countries like Japan, the UK, and most Nordic nations. These are all successful economies with diverse interests mirroring the US. We can learn a lot from this practice and should consider taking it on here in the US. 

As long as you can develop easy communication with your clients, there is no reason not to try the 4-day work week. Who knows, you may see a massive uptick in productivity! 

About Suzanne Muusers