An industry expert has described the current state of mental health and wellness of financial advisers as being at crisis point as a result of the fallout from the financial services royal commission and changes to the financial services landscape.
“From doing a bunch of roadshows for dealer groups and conferences for advisers, I’ve started to hear the voices from those financial advisers around the country that they are hurting. They are absolutely hurting,” TAL head of mental health Glenn Baird told attendees at the SMSF Association Sydney local chapter Christmas lunch last week.
“What I know about mental health is change has a massive impact. That’s change of all kinds and it’s quite significant. A lot of people establish their identity on what they do as a financial adviser and all of a sudden that’s at risk.
“Not only are you taking away their career, but also their identity.”
Baird said the extent of the issue is reflected in the suicide rate recorded among financial advisers recently.
“I was at a conference in September and I heard a stat there that 16 financial advisers in 2019 had taken their lives,” he said.
“As I understand it there is a population of maybe 20,000 financial advisers across the country, and we know in Australia the rates of suicide are about 12 per 100,000 [people]. That’s in any given year and we’ve had 16 up until September from a population of 20,000.
“So it’s pretty alarming when you put it that way.”
His message to advisers is for them to recognise the need to be absolutely selfish in ensuring they can survive through this difficult time.
SMSF Association chief executive John Maroney said it was a sobering thought, but discussing the topic was a positive.
“To talk about it is far better than having it all go on in the background,” Maroney said.
According to Baird, the importance of equipping a network of financial advisers to be skilled enough to identify changes in behaviour with their colleagues was more significant than ever before.
“[It is important for this network] to be able to pick up on this and say ‘hey, have you thought about talking to someone [about this]’, because the last thing we want is that number of 16 getting to 17. That would be tragic,” he said.