Avoiding burnout in your investments

Staci West 14/09/2021 in Millennials

A good friend of mine recommended the book ‘Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation’ by Anne Helen Petersen. I’ll admit I’ve not read it yet, but the title made me question: surely everyone is subject to burnout? As it turns out though, millennials have in fact been labeled the “burnout generation”, with research from the World Psychiatry going back to 2016 on the subject.

“Money is the root of all evil.”

What is burnout?

Burnout is not a new phenomenon. Research into it started back in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the World Health Organisation defined burnout as a legitimate occupational experience that organisations needed to address. It’s characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout and the pandemic

During the mist of the pandemic, work from home blurred the lines further and the work-life balance was non-existent for some. Burnout became more prevalent than ever. A Predictive Index survey even coined it “the Great Resignation”, listing burnout as a driving factor for those quitting their jobs.

Despite it all, there are some signals that burnout’s growing presence in our lives could be nudging us in the direction of positive change. In recent months, public figures like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, have shone a spotlight on mental health. The Chinese government has also cracked down on China’s ‘996’ work culture – where people work 9am to 9pm, six days a week – as abusive labor practices.

Burnout and the money treadmill

Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re all influenced and motivated by money. It doesn’t matter how many times family and friends tell us money isn’t the answer to our problems – more money always seems like a better option. So we spend our days laboring away, fantasising about the day we buy our own farm (just me?), constantly trying to move up the financial ladder. But yet, we risk burnout and unhappiness for this promise of more money.

Anyone who has been given a raise will tell you that the feeling is temporary. One of the reasons is what’s called ‘the hedonic treadmill’. It’s the theory that your happiness will revert back to its previous baseline within about six months, once you have grown accustomed to your “new normal.” The theory is widely accepted by psychologists and used to explain both positive and negative changes.

In essence, we have a baseline state of happiness, regardless of circumstance. Morgan Housel, the author of The Psychology of Money, and Mick Dillon, co-manager of Brown Advisory Global Leaders fund, discuss this treadmill more in depth on the Investing on the go when discussing the concept of ‘enough’.

Avoiding burnout in your investments

Fund managers aren’t exempt either. Just like us, they are subject to burnout and some fund managers have resigned or even retired, maybe earlier than expected, during the pandemic. Having a manager you’ve trusted your money to leave can be a stressful time for investors.

One way to mitigate potential investor burnout would be to avoid key-person risk and look towards funds run by a strong team of individuals. Capital Group New Perspective for example, has a unique multiple manager structure with seven named managers and a small army of analysts supporting them.

If you’re worried about your own potential burnout, or asset class burnout (is that a thing?) and want to tick investments off your list, consider a multi-asset fund. The Jupiter Merlin range of funds has a six-strong team. Unlike some multi-managers, the Jupiter team also has a ‘never say never’ attitude and considers every investment on its own merits.

Gary Potter and Rob Burdett, co-managers of BMO MM Navigator Distribution, co-head the nine-strong multi-manager team at BMO and have worked together since 1996! The managers’ ability to find less well-known funds and then blend them together makes this a very interesting fund for income seekers.

For the more conscientious investor, Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed fund is led by Peter Michaelis, Simon Clements and Chris Foster. They’re backed by one of the most experienced and well-resourced 13-strong team across equites and fixed interest.

And, as Matthew Stanesby, co-manager of Close Managed Income, says “team work makes the dream work…we all bring something different to the table and together deliver something much more than we’d be able to alone.” The three strong team focuses on capital preservation alongside income generation.

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