Wall Street Warriors

Successful stockbrokers may be skilled at managing assets, but not all are so good at managing stress. A study finds many are unhappy, sleep deprived, even clinically depressed.

By Carin Gorrell, published on January 1, 2001 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Stockbrokers may be trading more than they realize—research suggests they're swapping their health for success.

In a study of 26 men ages 22 to 32, all prestigious Wall Street brokers, researchers at Florida's Nova Southeastern University examined how work stress affects brokers' physical and mental health. Led by John Lewis, Ph.D., a psychology professor at NSU, the study found that a broker's average workday was 10 to 12 hours long, and that those earning the most also slept the least. The participants rarely missed work, calling in sick an average of twice a year but suffering from the flu or a virus at least twice as often. And despite being wealthy, the brokers were unhappy. Thirty-eight percent met the criteria for subclinical major depression, while 23 percent were clinically diagnosed with major depression—shocking, considering only 7 percent of men are currently depressed in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

These findings carry implications for both brokers and their clients. "If employers don't make stress management seminars mandatory, these guys are going to burn out," explains Alden M. Cass, M.S., study co-author and a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at NSU. "One of the symptoms of depression is inability to make decisions and sound judgements—and if the public becomes aware of this, they're going to be reluctant to invest."