Mindfulness is becoming increasingly common in all types of workplaces, including tech and finance. In fact, CEOs such as Salesforce’s Marc Benioff and former Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini are known for their commitment to mindfulness and for incorporating it into their company cultures.
So how does that translate to an advisory practice? As the CEO of Falcon Wealth Advisors, Jake Falcon decided to take a more mindful approach to his career following a battle with cancer. Now cancer-free, he is committed to helping clients pursue their financial goals in a way that takes their present and future goals into account.
Making Mindfulness a Priority
"I've been practicing since 2006 and I grew up in a very traditional brokerage model,” Falcon says, explaining that he launched Falcon Wealth Advisors in 2016 as a result of his commitment to a fiduciary model. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer and the diagnosis caused him to embrace a more mindful approach in all areas of his life. “I learned to appreciate the present moment and focus on overall wellness and health,” he explains.
As a result, Falcon’s approach to working with clients has changed and the results have been gratifying. “When I'm meeting with clients, of course we're going over their financial plan and their investment performance,” he says. “But my conversations have become much more about inspiring clients to use their capital to do what makes them happy and to live out their retirement dreams.” The transition has been simple but significant, allowing Falcon to deepen his relationships with clients and help them to achieve more of their overall goals.
Reshaping Company Culture
While mindfulness can have a big impact on relationships with clients, it’s only one of the benefits of a more mindful practice. “I think the calmness and awareness I have now carry through when I'm meeting face-to-face with my clients, and it’s also carrying through to my team,” says Falcon. “So all of us have grown and been able to become better at whatever role we serve on the team, which ultimately translates into better service for the client.”
Those insights are also borne out by research. According to a study developed by Aetna in partnership with Duke University, participating in mindfulness programs at work can lead to a 28% reduction in stress levels and a 20% improvement in sleep quality. What’s more, these programs can also boost productivity, increasing productive work time by an average of 62 minutes per week.
Advice for Advisors
So how can advisors incorporate mindfulness into their practices? According to Falcon, small changes can make a big difference. “The most important thing is to listen more than you speak,” he says. “I think a lot of times we want to talk about what we do for clients and how we can help them, but sometimes it's as simple as finding a few open-ended questions and letting your clients talk, and then applying that knowledge to their situation to help them.”
Above all, Falcon explains that it’s important for advisors to prioritize their health and wellness so that they can bring the best version of themselves to work every day. “It's important to not let certain areas of your life be ignored because you're so focused on your practice,” he says. Since lifestyles often inform our approaches to work (and vice versa), acting in a more mindful way can help bring everything into a better balance.