BUSINESS
05/11/2013 01:12 pm ET

Some Financial Advisers May Have PTSD Following 2008 Crisis: Study

The entire country suffered greatly during the most recent financial crisis, but a recent study reveals that financial professionals were affected in an uncommon way.

Some 93 percent of financial advisers reported medium to high stress levels following the 2008 financial crisis, with 39 percent of respondents reporting stress symptoms at levels similar to individuals who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report in the most recent issue of the Journal Of Financial Therapy.

Nearly half of the 56 financial planners surveyed, all of whom managed assets with an average value between $20 million and $40 million, also said the crisis led them to question their profession and "how to help people create the life they want."

"A lot of these financial planners I worked with couldn't sleep at night,” Brad Klontz, an associate professor at Kansas State University and co-author of the study told MarketWatch. "They shoulder a great deal of the financial and emotional responsibility when they manage client assets."

PTSD was defined in the study as a disturbance that "must last for over one month and cause significant impairment in one's ability to function at work or in relationships" following a traumatic event. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they thought about their stress even when they didn't mean to, and some 67 percent said they had "waves of strong feelings about it."

Indeed, financial advisers were not the only ones whose health was negatively affected in the wake of the financial crisis. Austerity measures implemented in Europe and North America since 2008 have increased rates of suicide, depression and infectious diseases, a pattern in keeping with decades of research on such economic policies.

The recession may have also stalled years of fighting high cholesterol in the U.S., a study from one of the country's largest health laboratories contends.

Klontz's study points out that while symptoms of PTSD have dissipated greatly for a majority of financial planners since the crisis, some evidence suggests that the lessons learned by such planners have profoundly changed their behavior. The study found that many financial planners increased their risk taking during the crisis, but many are now rethinking those strategies.

The report references a 2011 survey completed by 1,090 advisors, for example, that found 83 percent of planners would make at least one adjustment to client portfolios in the future, abandoning more risky buy-and-sell strategies in favor of more tactical asset management.

Despite the relatively high number of respondents to report symptoms consistent with PTSD after 2008, the authors are careful to point out that they cannot confirm that the financial crisis was the cause of the symptoms in the first place.

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