Enjoy the current installment of “Weekend Reading For Financial Planners” - this week’s edition kicks off with the news that the SEC issued a risk alert highlighting areas of increased focus regarding its new marketing rule for upcoming examinations, including whether there is clear disclosure of whether the person giving a testimonial or endorsement is a client or investor, if the promoter has been paid, and if there are material conflicts of interest. Among other highlighted areas of interest, the regulator also flagged whether certain “ineligible persons” have been compensated for testimonials or endorsements and advisors’ use of third-party ratings in advertisements.
Also in industry news this week:
- A recent survey suggests that while individuals who work with financial advisors find them to be valuable, those who have not worked with an advisor before do not necessarily understand the value an advisor can provide
- The SEC is considering a new rule regarding advisers’ use of Artificial Intelligence tools, while the Department of Labor said it is planning to release the latest proposed update to its ‘fiduciary rule’ in August
From there, we have several articles on investments:
- How advisors can add value for clients by evaluating the potential risks and benefits of investing in private credit funds
- Why higher interest rates could change the calculus for advisors for allocating client assets to cash-like instruments
- How performance data suggest that lower-cost bond funds tend to perform better and are less volatile than their pricier counterparts
We also have a number of articles on advisor fees:
- While charging based on Assets Under Management (AUM) remains the most popular fee model, many advisors are looking to retainers and other fee models to diversify their revenue stream and reach more prospective clients
- How advisors can help their clients save on taxes by strategically taking fees from client accounts in a tax-efficient manner
- Why improved advisor service levels and the broader inflationary environment could make now a good time for firms to consider raising their fees
We wrap up with 3 final articles, all about taking breaks:
- Best practices for how often to take breaks during the workday and what to do during them to promote focus and creativity
- How advisors can structure their daily calendars to build in breaks and enhance their productivity
- How managers can play an important role in creating an office culture where breaks during the day are not only accepted, but encouraged
Enjoy the ‘light’ reading!
(Tracey Longo | Financial Advisor)
Almost 2 years after it was first announced, enforcement of the SEC’s new marketing rule began on November 4. The new marketing rule presents RIAs with the opportunity to greatly expand their marketing efforts with new options, from client testimonials to promoting the reviews they’ve received on third-party websites, to provide prospective clients with evidence of the quality of their service. In September, the SEC issued a risk alert putting advisors on notice that examiners will be conducting a number of reviews to evaluate how firms are complying with the new rule since it was finalized nearly 2 years ago. Though given the SEC’s principles-based approach to enforcing the rule (rather than setting out explicit rules-based guidelines), some firms are wondering whether the changes they have made to their marketing and compliance policies will pass muster during their next SEC exam.
But now that the enforcement date has passed, the SEC has had an opportunity to look at what RIAs are actually doing to ensure that advisors stay within the bounds of the new regulation. Perhaps as a result of these initial examinations, the SEC this month issued a new risk alert highlighting areas of increased focus for its upcoming exams, including whether there is clear disclosure of whether the person giving the testimonial or endorsement is a client or investor, if the promoter has been paid, and if there are material conflicts of interest. Other issues flagged in the alert include whether advisors have written agreements with promoters they are using (unless the promoter is an affiliate of the advisor or if the affiliation is disclosed, or if the promoters receive compensation of $1,000 or less during the preceding 12 months). The SEC also plans to flag instances where “ineligible persons” (which include those subject to an SEC opinion or order barring, suspending, or prohibiting them from acting in any capacity under federal securities laws, as well as those with certain criminal convictions and orders) have been compensated for testimonials or endorsements, if the advisor knew or reasonably should have known that the person was ineligible.
For advisors using third-party ratings in advertisements, the SEC will be checking to ensure that there is clear and prominent disclosure of the date of the rating, the time period it covers, the identity of the third party that created the rating, and any compensation the third party was paid, according to the risk alert. In addition, any questionnaires or surveys the advisor uses to collect third-party ratings must be structured in a way so that it is equally easy for a participant to provide favorable and unfavorable responses. More broadly, the SEC is expecting advisors to use the amended Form ADV to provide additional information regarding their marketing practices.
In the end, while the latest risk alert does not create any new obligations for advisors, it can provide advisors leveraging the marketing rule with a better understanding of what SEC examiners will be looking for in upcoming examinations. Because while the marketing rule gives advisory firms the opportunity to market themselves in ways that they have not been able to previously, it comes with the burden of taking the actions necessary to remain in compliance with the rule!
(Holly Deaton | RIAIntel)
For financial advisors, it is not difficult to recognize the value they provide for their clients and how their comprehensive financial planning services differ from robo-tools providing investment advice (that typically cost less than a human advisor) as well as from the wide range of websites that offer investment and financial planning advice (often for free). And while the high (90%+) retention rates for financial advisors demonstrate that current clients recognize the value they are receiving from an advisor, a recent study suggests that those who have not worked with an advisor might not be aware of this opportunity.
A survey conducted by Morningstar asked more than 2,000 adult investors in the U.S. about their attitudes and behaviors regarding investment advice, among other topics. One positive finding for financial advisors is that professional financial advisors were cited by respondents as the top source cited when it comes to being “extremely valuable” or “very valuable” sources of information on a new investment. However, the gap between advisors and other sources of information was narrow; while 57% of those surveyed considered financial advisors to be extremely or very valuable, 55% said the same for investment or trading platforms and websites, 53% for an accountant or tax advisor, 51% for business news sources (e.g., The Wall Street Journal), and 49% for financial websites (e.g., Yahoo Finance).
Nonetheless, in terms of finding advice from financial advisors to be valuable, there appears to be a large gap between individuals who have worked with an advisor before and those who have not. The study found that while at least 80% of those who had worked with a financial advisor for at least 3 years found financial advisors to be extremely valuable, only about 30% of those who had not worked with an advisor said the same. Among those who have worked with an advisor, top reasons cited included changing economic conditions (53%), taxes (31%) and life events (28%), suggesting that advisors have the opportunity to add value both in technical areas like taxes and creating investment portfolios that can withstand turbulent economic conditions, but also in helping clients navigate life transitions.
Altogether, the Morningstar survey suggests that while advisors are demonstrating their value to current clients, they face the challenge of standing out from the pack of other sources of investment and financial advice for those who do not work with an advisor. Which means that advisory firms could consider ways to show their unique value, from crafting a tailored value proposition based on the needs of their ideal target client (which a consumer would be unlikely to get from financial websites, or even a more generalist advisor) to communicating this value on their websites and in other marketing tactics!
(Bloomberg News, Melanie Waddell | ThinkAdvisor)
For more than 20 years, the ongoing evolution of the advisory industry has been driven heavily by advances in technology (the internet, then robo-advisors, now ChatGPT) that make it easier for consumers to leverage technology to manage more and more of their finances themselves (or at least, ‘technology-augmented’), and also allows advisors to evolve their own business models and value propositions to do more on top of what the technology increasingly automates.
Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies in particular have been making headlines regularly for the past several months, as companies roll out new product offerings and observers consider whether (or not) these technologies will enhance or displace certain industries or jobs. Yet while there are many potential benefits to AI (from creating marketing content to speeding data analysis), some finance industry regulators have worried about the potential for AI to be used to harm consumers (whether through deceptive marketing practices, subpar standards for service, or outright fraud), an extension of numerous recent regulatory actions against robo-advisors by the SEC that similarly found that algorithm automation hype didn’t always live up to its promise.
And this week, the SEC announced in its semiannual rule-writing agenda that a plan to rein in conflicts of interest associated with AI (as well as predictive data analytics and machine learning technologies) for investment advisers and broker-dealers could come as soon as October. While the contents of such a rule remain unclear, advisers adopting AI-enabled software tools now (e.g., for content creation or client communication) could consider reviewing AI-produced output as a best practice to ensure that it is accurate and complies with their fiduciary duty to clients. (Though the regulations will more likely be aimed at companies that are trying to utilize AI to deliver ‘advice’ as AI-driven RIAs or broker-dealers directly to consumers in the absence of a human advisor, where it’s harder to implement the industry’s existing compliance checks and balances.)
In similar regulatory news this week, the Department of Labor (DoL) announced in its regulatory flexibility agenda that it plans to release a new ‘fiduciary rule’ in August. This would be the latest step in a multi-year process across 3 presidential administrations updating the DoL fiduciary rule governing the provision of advice on retirement plans governed by ERISA (e.g., employer-sponsored 401(k) and 403(b) plans), driven by the ongoing convergence of RIA, broker-dealer, and insurance channels that has regulators scrutinizing when product sales end and (fiduciary) advice begins.
While the exact contents of the proposed rule remain unclear, some observers have speculated that it could fall between the initial 2016 proposal during the Obama administration (that took a relatively stringent approach where commission-based conflicts of interest had to be avoided altogether by retirement plan advisors) and the more permissive approach put forward under the Trump administration in December 2020 (which allowed broker-dealers to receive commission compensation for giving clients advice involving plans governed by ERISA as long as the broker-dealer otherwise acts in the client’s best interest when giving that advice). Potential changes could include amending the 5-part fiduciary test, making adjustments to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 2020-02 (PTE 2020-02), and reexamining existing PTEs, such as PTE 84-24 (which permits certain commissionable insurance sales in retirement plans).
Notably, any ‘new’ DoL fiduciary rule will have to go through the entire notice and comment process required by the Administrative Procedures Act, including a comment period once the proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register. And given pushback and legal challenges from the product manufacturing/distribution side of the industry to previous proposals to update the fiduciary rule (particularly from broker-dealers and the insurance industry), the DoL’s initial proposal could face a difficult path to being enacted (though perhaps the initial proposal could set a baseline from which to work for an eventual compromise?).
(Ben Mattlin | Financial Advisor)
Many investors are familiar with private equity as an alternative asset class, which is popular with certain high-net-worth and institutional investors as a vehicle for diversification and a source of potentially higher risk-adjusted returns than what is available on the public market. However, less well-known is the related but distinct asset class of private credit, which, like private equity, focuses on opportunities outside of what is traded on the public market but deploys its capital in the form of debt rather than taking equity stakes in companies. And at a time of newly elevated interest rates, private credit could become attractive for many investors, though investing in this area comes with unique risks.
Investors today might be attracted by the yields on private credit funds, which can be north of 10%. In addition, these funds can potentially be used as a diversifier for the fixed-income portion of an investor’s portfolio (and represent a form of diversification compared to investing in individual loans), as they can have lower correlations to publicly traded equity and bond funds. At the same time, private credit funds are not without risks; for instance, a wave of corporate defaults could lead to losses for investors (and at a time of elevated returns for ‘risk-free’ Treasury securities, investors and their advisors can weigh whether the potential return premium is worth the increased credit risk). Further, because some funds keep investor funds locked up for certain periods (that can reach 10 years or more), it is important for investors to understand the liquidity constraints involved in investing in certain funds.
Given the challenges of evaluating private credit funds, interested advisors could add significant value for their clients in evaluating different funds and their managers. For example, a recent study found that although private credit as an asset class has delivered higher risk-adjusted returns compared to traditional fixed-income investments, there is a wide range of outcomes between individual private credit funds, with a relatively small cluster of top-performing funds delivering much of the asset class’s overall outperformance. Further, the researchers found that among private credit funds and the General Partner (GP) who manages them, prior performance was a significant indicator of future performance, with funds having a good performance history being the most likely to outperform in the future. Funds with GPs who had no history of prior private credit fund management had some of the worst performance, suggesting that not only do past returns but also the skills and experience of GPs have much to do with which private credit funds are likely to have the best returns.
Ultimately, the key point is that while private credit funds could be an attractive opportunity for investors to achieve higher yields in the fixed-income portions of their portfolios, the risks and conditions associated with these investments (in addition to fees that are often higher than funds investing in public debt) suggest a potential role for advisors in helping their clients not only decide whether private credit is an appropriate addition to their portfolio, but also in vetting funds and GPs to find the most attractive opportunities!
(Jason Zweig | The Wall Street Journal)
Up until last year, the previous decade of near-rock-bottom interest rates meant that investors could only receive minimal returns from holding cash in ‘safe’ vehicles like savings accounts and Treasury bills. But as interest rates have risen dramatically in the past year, so too have the rates on these products, not only increasing the returns on cash holdings, but also perhaps shifting the risk-return calculus for funds that might be needed within the next several years.
For those prioritizing liquidity for their cash, certain savings accounts are offering rates above 4% for those who are willing to look beyond the largest banks. Another alternative are Treasury bills, which are currently yielding more than 5%. And for those looking to lock in an interest rate for a longer period (to ensure their return in case broader interest rates fall), bank Certificates of Deposit (CDs) could be an attractive option, with 1-year CDs offering rates above 5% and 5-year CDs offering rates above 4%. While some consumers might be hesitant to commit their money to a CD in case interest rates rise further, Zweig notes that paying the early-withdrawal penalty of a CD could be worth it if the consumer could upgrade to a significantly higher interest rate for an extended period.
For advisors and their clients, the availability of ‘guaranteed’ returns of 5% could also adjust the time horizon used for funds that are kept in cash versus those that are invested in riskier assets like stocks or bonds. For instance, while an advisor during the period of lower interest rates might have recommended keeping funds that would be needed within a certain time period in cash, they might consider extending this timeline in the current environment, given the available return on cash could make the risk-return tradeoff of investing in stocks or bonds less attractive if the funds will be spent soon.
In sum, after 15 years of low rates on savings products and Treasury bills, individuals now have the opportunity to earn significantly higher yields on their cash holdings. Which presents an opportunity for advisors to add significant value by creating and implementing a cash management plan for their clients!
(Jeffrey Ptak | Morningstar)
When analyzing a potential mutual fund or Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) investment, fees are often an important consideration, as they serve as a drag on returns. Therefore, when investing in a relatively higher-fee fund, investors (and advisors) will typically look for features, perhaps better returns or reduced volatility, that make it more attractive than a lower-cost alternative.
And while there has been considerable debate regarding the potential benefits and drawbacks of investing in (often actively managed) higher-fee equity funds versus their (typically passively managed) lower-fee counterparts, a similar analysis can be conducted for bond funds as well. Looking at the 3-year periods ending between the end of 2015 and the end of 2022, Ptak found that, when controlling for fund style, the cheapest quartile of funds performed better than their pricier counterparts in every period. In addition, the cheapest bond funds were also less volatile than funds with higher expense ratios. Further, this relationship was also seen within fund style categories, as the cheapest funds had less volatility (perhaps as the managers of the more-expensive funds took additional risk to try to increase returns to compensate for their higher fees).
Overall, this research suggests that, on average, investors in lower-cost bond funds can benefit not only from reduced fees, but also from greater expense-adjusted returns and lower volatility compared to more expensive funds. Which suggests a valuable role for advisors in reviewing the fixed-income assets in prospect and client portfolios to see whether there might be opportunities to cut costs, improve returns, and reduce volatility by moving to less-expensive bond funds!
(Suman Bhattacharyya | AdvisorHub)
For fee-only financial advisors, charging clients on an Assets Under Management (AUM) basis has long been the dominant fee model. In fact, the 2022 Kitces Research report on How Financial Planners Actually Do Financial Planning found that 89% of advisors surveyed received at least some compensation from clients in the form of AUM charges and that AUM fees represented more than half of revenues for 82% of respondents, confirming the dominant position for this fee model.
Nonetheless, the Kitces Research study also found that nearly 3-quarters of respondents generated revenue from multiple charging methods. For instance, of the respondents that use the AUM model, at least one-third also use another fee model (e.g., hourly/project or retainer/subscription) with at least some clients, reflecting the opportunities that non-AUM fee models provide. For instance, alternative fee models can allow advisors to serve clients who might have sufficient income to pay an advisory fee (that is sufficiently high enough to make serving the client profitable for the advisor), but whose assets fall below the advisor’s AUM minimum (e.g., doctors or lawyers with high incomes but large student loan balances). In addition, offering other fee models can help advisors steady their revenue compared to relying solely on AUM, as fee-for-service models are not directly impacted by market performance (unlike AUM fee revenue, which can decline significantly during market downturns). Another option for advisors is to serve clients under a fee model that combines an AUM fee with a retainer fee, thereby getting the revenue-steadying benefits of the retainer fee with the potential upside (during periods of strong investment performance) that AUM fees can provide.
Ultimately, the key point is that while the AUM fee model maintains a dominant position for fee-only advisory firms, many are adopting other fee models (either in place of, or in conjunction with, AUM fees) that can allow them to serve clients with less wealth and to diversify their revenue streams!
(Michael Finke | ThinkAdvisor)
Before the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in 2017, clients could deduct financial advisory fees as a miscellaneous itemized deduction (subject to a 2%-of-Adjusted Gross Income [AGI] floor). Unfortunately for clients (and advisors), the TCJA eliminated all miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2%-of-AGI floor – which threw out the advisory fee deduction along with the other deductions in that category – effectively raising the cost of financial advice for many clients. Nonetheless, by being strategic about the type of account(s) from which advisory fees are withdrawn, advisors can still help clients pay their advisory fees in the most tax-advantaged way possible.
One way advisors can help their clients save on taxes is to take investment fees owed for assets in a Roth IRA from a taxable account (notably, fees charged on Roth accounts cannot be taken from traditional IRAs), because of the tax benefits of Roth accounts (e.g., tax-free growth and qualified distributions) make assets in those accounts more valuable than those in taxable accounts (which are subject to taxes both on income they produced as well as eventual capital gains).
But when it comes to charging fees on assets in a traditional IRA, the decision of whether to take them from the IRA or from a taxable account is trickier. For example, consider that a client could put $1,000 of earned income directly into their traditional IRA and have the fee taken from there, while the same client (assuming a 30% marginal tax bracket) would need to earn $1,429 to pay the same $1,000 fee once taxes are considered. This would suggest that taking fees from the traditional IRA could be the favorable option. However, with a long enough time horizon and a high enough rate of return, the funds left in the traditional IRA could achieve a higher after-tax return despite the initial marginal tax rate disadvantage (thanks to the tax-deferred compounding growth). For instance, at a 23.8% capital gains rate, the breakeven for a worker with a 37% marginal income tax rate would be 26 years at an 8% rate of return and 35 years at a 6% rate of return. Though, given these long time horizons and the unpredictability of returns, taking fees from the traditional IRA rather than a taxable account is often the best strategy.
Importantly, though, the ability to take advisory fees from traditional (or Roth) IRAs is limited to fees related to ‘pure’ investment management, so the entire amount of fees charged for combined investment management and other services (e.g., financial planning) might not be eligible to be taken from an IRA (suggesting that an advisor might consider describing their fee as an investment management fee and charging for other services separately, or providing them for ‘free’ if the incremental amount is nominal).
In addition, advisors can help clients save on taxes when billing on assets in taxable accounts by selling assets with the lowest expected after-tax return. This could mean withdrawing investment fees from cash, which typically has lower expected returns compared to other assets and produces interest that is taxable annually at ordinary tax rates (rather than preferred dividend or capital gains rates). Alternatively, advisors can focus sales on investments that have losses when generating cash for fees (effectively coupling tax loss harvesting with fee collection), or at the least selecting individual lots that have the highest basis and the smallest gains (if no losses are available).
In sum, while the TCJA took away a valuable tax benefit for clients of financial advisors, there is still room for advisors to help clients save on taxes when it comes time to the advisory fees they pay. Because by strategically taking fees from accounts and assets that are expected to result in relatively less after-tax wealth, advisors can ensure that fees are paid in the most tax-efficient way possible!
(Matt Sonnen | Wealth Management)
In years past, a financial advisor might have been able to charge their fee (perhaps 1% of AUM) for investment advisory services alone. But amid competition from robo-advisors and other lower-fee sources of investment advice, many advisors have ‘upped their game’ by offering an increasingly comprehensive suite of planning services to justify their fee. However, this increased level of service can come at a cost to advisory firms, as more advisor and staff hours are spent serving clients. So rather than experiencing fee compression (as some observers predicted with the emergence of the robos), margin compression has become an issue for many firms.
Some firms facing margin compression have become increasingly efficient (e.g., streamlining the types of services provided by adopting a niche or an ideal target client profile), reducing the time and dollar costs of serving their clients. But Sonnen suggests that now could also be a good time for firms to focus on improving the revenue side of the margin ledger by raising their fees, whether it is a wholesale change to the fee schedule or moving the lowest-paying clients (who might have been grandfathered from a previous fee schedule) up to the firm’s current fee levels. This is in part due to broader inflation trends; as consumers have experienced rising prices in other areas of their life, an increase in advisory fees might be viewed as a natural adjustment. In addition, clients might understand that a firm that has increased the number of services offered during the past several years might want to increase their fee to reflect the higher service level. And while some advisors might fear that they might lose some clients who balk at the fee increase, Sonnen suggests that many of these clients might not have been good fits with the firm in the first place (using the fee increase as an excuse to leave) and that the increased revenue from raising fees on current clients (and new clients who take the place of those that leave) could more than make up for the lost fees from these departures.
In the end, while raising fees could be seen as a risk (and communicating the increase to clients could feel awkward), Sonnen suggests that broader inflation trends and ongoing margin compression could make now a particularly good time to do so to promote firm profitability while providing a high level of service to clients!
(A.C. Shilton | The New York Times)
The need to take breaks during the workday is conceptually obvious, as maintaining a high level of focus for 8 hours or longer is nearly impossible (backing up this intuition, a 2022 study found that even short breaks reduced mental fatigue and increased vigor). But deciding how often to take breaks and what to do during them are more challenging questions. With this in mind, researchers studying these issues have identified best practices for taking breaks.
In terms of the appropriate frequency of breaks, researchers suggest that it can depend on the type of work being done; for instance, while you might be able to stick with challenging, interesting focus work for 90 minutes or longer, period doing more mundane tasks might call for a break every 30 minutes (though pushing past 30 minutes is fine as long as you can maintain your focus). And when it comes to what to do during breaks, researchers suggest finding activities that let your brain switch from its focused state to its “default mode network”, which is when the brain can wander as it is not focusing on completing tasks (e.g., think of the ideas that have come to mind in the shower!). For example, getting outside and moving around can also boost productivity, as one study found that workers who took a 20-minute walk in nature came back with more creative ideas than counterparts who kept working. Another option is to take a quick nap, as a 15-minute nap can bring clarity, while a longer rest can boost productivity.
Ultimately, the key point is that taking breaks is an important part of being able to be productive and creative through the workday. So whether it is going out for a walk or just stepping away from the desk for a healthy snack, building breaks in your day can be a valuable habit!
(Gabriela Riccardi and Anna Oakes | Quartz At Work)
On some days, you might look at your to-do list and wonder how you will fit it all into your schedule. Sometimes you might end up ping-ponging between different tasks, shuttling between meetings, emails, and time for “deep work”. But research suggests that such task-switching (or, worse, attempting to multitask) is not the optimal way to tackle a workday. Rather, Riccardi and Oakes suggest a series of exercises that can help you better organize your day and complete work more efficiently.
The first exercise, dubbed the “Time Pie”, involves tracking how you spend your time during a given week (either manually or using tools like Toggl or HourStack). This will allow you to group your various responsibilities into ‘slices’ (e.g., meeting with clients, team meetings, deep planning work, and administrative duties). Doing so can not only provide more clarity on how long you spend on different tasks and perhaps whether you want to cut back on some of them to prioritize more important responsibilities. Armed with this information, you can engage in “Calendar Blocking”, or committing time on your calendar in 60-to-90-minute blocks for your most important activities (with breaks in between). Which can help increase the chances that you will have sufficient time to cover your key duties. Finally, “Calendar Stacking” involves grouping like activities with each other on the calendar. For instance, instead of bouncing between meetings, thinking work, and administrative tasks throughout the day, you could set aside two 30-minute periods to check email throughout the day so you are less tempted to check it during other tasks (which can break your concentration).
In sum, given research demonstrating the benefits of engaging in blocks of focused work (similar to interval training for exercise), identifying the various tasks you perform throughout the day and how much time is spend on them, then grouping similar tasks together into time blocks on your calendar can help you maintain focus on the task at hand and complete the key tasks on your plate in a given week!
(Zhanna Lyubykh and Duygu Biricik Gulseren | Harvard Business Review)
Headlines about so-called ‘hustle culture’ abound in the media these days, whether it is the CEO that starts their day at 4:00 AM or the entrepreneur who logs 100-hour workweeks fueled by coffee and energy drinks alone. But the sheer number of hours worked does not indicate how productive the individual is, and such a schedule (especially if it does not include breaks) can lead to burnout.
With this in mind, Lyubykh, Gulseren, and their colleagues engaged in a systematic review of more than 80 existing studies on workplace breaks, finding that taking breaks within work hours can help boost performance and overall well-being. Notably, the authors found that all break types are not created equal; for instance, shorter breaks are more effective in the morning, while longer breaks are more beneficial in the late afternoon (because fatigue tends to worsen throughout the day). Other ways to make breaks more effective include exercising, getting outside, or spending time with a pet. On the other hand, browsing social media during breaks has been found to lead to emotional exhaustion, which can lead to diminished creativity and work engagement.
The authors suggest that managers can play an important role in fostering a company culture where breaks are not just accepted, but rather encouraged. Because while an employee (particularly one working in an office near their manager) might feel fatigued and in need of a break, they might hesitate if they worry that their manager will judge them for being away from their desk. To remedy this situation, managers can set explicit policies encouraging breaks, or simply encourage their employees to take time away from their computers by taking breaks themselves. And for companies operating in a virtual environment, managers who use their status messages on workplace messaging applications to show they are taking a break as a way to signal to employees that they can (and should) take breaks as well.
Ultimately, the key point is that breaks are not just relaxing but are also key drivers of productivity. And managers can take steps to ensure that they not only take breaks of their own, but also to encourage their employees to take them as well!
We hope you enjoyed the reading! Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts, or make a suggestion of any articles you think we should highlight in a future column!
In the meantime, if you're interested in more news and information regarding advisor technology, we'd highly recommend checking out Craig Iskowitz's "Wealth Management Today" blog.