The benefits of having an adviser support network

"It's something we need to see more of in this industry"

The benefits of having an adviser support network

As FSLAA licensing process ramps up, the adviser sector will be anticipating some stressful times ahead - and according to one, the key to getting through this period will be strong industry support.

The mental health of the adviser sector has already been put into the spotlight by AIA New Zealand’s ‘NZ Adviser Wellbeing Research’ project, which closed its survey on October 10 and was open to advisers from across all areas of insurance. Its Australian counterpart study showed some alarming statistics about the mental heath of Australian advisers, and with an ongoing Delta outbreak and a massive compliance project ahead, it is likely that New Zealand’s results will deliver some striking insights.

According to mySolutions director Nicola Smee, the current environment for advisers has been something of a “pressure cooker”, and she said that many that she has personally spoken to have expressed high levels of anxiety. She said the requirements of the full licensing process are undoubtedly going to be tough, and so having a strong support network of people who can help provide reassurance, and help guide you in the right direction will be crucial to getting through this period.

“It really can be like being in a pressure cooker, when you have so many things coming at you from so many angles,” Smee said.

“I know so many good advisers who have been passionate for many years about looking after their clients, about doing the right thing, and making sure that the policies they’re giving to clients are delivering in times of need.”

“With the licensing, the best example I can give is that it’s like having someone who’s been driving a car very successfully for many years, and now they’re being told to be the high performing mechanic,” she explained.

“They have to open the bonnet of their car, pull the whole motor apart and put it back together, making sure that every nut and bolt is in the right place while being watched and monitored, and being assessed to make sure that everything is in the right spot. And if they get it wrong, they’re possibly going to be fined, publicly shamed or lose their business.

“Almost 50% of advisers I talk to are feeling really anxious at the moment, and there are so many who are overwhelmed and unsure of whether they’re going in the right direction.”

New Zealand’s financial adviser industry bodies have been putting in significant efforts to support their members through the regulatory changes of the past 18 months, but Smee said that interpersonal industry connections are also very important.

She encouraged advisers to reach out to some of their personal contacts in the industry, and to not be afraid to ask for advice or input on any topic - whether it’s an underwriting issue, a tricky client situation, or any aspect of the licensing process.

“In cases like this, advisers do need that sort of reassurance and support,” Smee said. “And so regardless of what group you’re in, you do need to have that person who you can go to and ask, “am I on the right track? Am I heading in the right direction?”

“Something I think we need to see more of in this industry is advisers buddying up with other advisers, and saying ‘let’s do this together’,” she explained.

“That reassurance and support just makes that load so much easier to bear, and it gives you the stability that you need, and the resilience to be able to cope with change. When you have someone who you can pick up the phone and talk to about an issue with underwriting, for example, and just know that there is someone there to support you - that’s priceless.

“So, if you’re an adviser who doesn’t have someone there in the industry, think of someone you’ve met at a previous conference or an industry workshop that you get on with, and give them a call. See how they’re coping, and see if you can work together on your FAP licensing. That way you can help each other get over the line, and both win.”

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