Industry representatives have made a united call for a bipartisan and coordinated approach to support the mental health of financial advisers at a recent Leaders Forum hosted by Zurich Life & Investments.
The message comes as financial advisers struggle to cope with the “perfect storm of change” confronting the advice profession, including new professional standards, the ceasing of grandfathered commissions, and widespread 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,” said Kristine Brooks, chief distribution officer at Zurich Life and Investments. “Any adviser impacted by all three at once might really be struggling.”
Despite efforts to support the mental health of advisers, there remains a gap as many organisations are not trained to deal with suicide threats or real distress.
“Mental health is a complex issue and as such requires a well thought-out response that is effective,” said Maria Falas, head of mental health and wellness at Zurich. “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.”
Forum participants, including leaders from the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA), licensee heads, and advisers, agreed to create a cross-industry working group to provide greater guidance and alignment on the issue and to better coordinate existing efforts and resources. One idea raised was increased training for licensees to better identify mental health issues and support their advisers.