Financial advisory leaders, including representatives from the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA), have agreed to establish a cross-industry working group to better co-ordinate the methods being used to address the increasing incidences of mental health issues among practitioners.
The resolution was made at the recent Leaders Forum hosted by Zurich Life and Investments and identified the need to increase training for licensees to help them identify situations of mental ill-health among their authorised representatives and offer them the support necessary.
“Mental health is a complex issue and as such requires a well thought-out response that is effective,” Zurich head of mental health and wellness Maria Falas said.
“We would like to work with the industry to achieve the coordinated approach we are discussing to provide and foster a sense of community and leadership in mental health for the benefit of our practitioners and our customers,” she added.
According to advisers who were forum attendees the increasing incidences of mental ill-health among their community was due to the combined pressure of having to manage new professional standards, the elimination of grandfathered commissions and the associated revenue implications, as well as licensee consolidation.
“The message from the conference was that any one of these conditions are red flags that the mental health of a financial adviser and small business owner might be affected,” Zurich Life and Investments chief distribution officer Kristine Brooks said.
“Any adviser impacted by all three at once might really be struggling,” she added.
EQ Wealth principal and AFA adviser of the year Simone Du Chesne noted the effect these developments were having.
“This is hindering advisers from doing what they love the most and who are potentially working harder for less money. A lot of us are small businesses owners with staff to care for, many of whom are also struggling with the uncertainty pervading our industry at the moment,” Du Chesne said.
Both the AFA and FPA have mental health programs available for their members via the Benestar organisation.
The issue of mental health was described as at crisis point during a panel discussion at an SMSF Association industry event.