A new report released by AIA New Zealand finds that Kiwi financial advisers increasingly face work burnout and deteriorating mental wellbeing.
Conducted by researchers Dr Adam Fraser and Dr John Molineux for AIA NZ, the study shows that one in five advisers are seeking or have sought medical care for stress, with 15 percent reporting that their doctor has advised them that they are in a high-risk category for heart disease or stroke.
Sam Tremethick, AIA NZ’s Chief Partnership Insurance Officer, says that AIA NZ undertook the research to better understand how operating in a global pandemic, increasing industry regulation, and changing client needs are impacting the adviser industry.
“Financial advisers largely fly under the radar as a sector. They work under difficult circumstances and have challenging roles. So we felt it was important that we better understand how the industry is faring on the whole and identify ways they can be better supported.”
Results found that a quarter of advisers are considering leaving their job due to stress, and a quarter also intend to take stress leave. Furthermore, two in five advisers believe this stress is impacting their ability to get adequate sleep.
Looking at specific pressure points, more than 60 percent of advisers who responded to questions about key sources of stress said the newly introduced government regulation was highly to very highly stressful, 42 percent said work overload was highly to very highly stressful, and 37 percent said meeting future education standards was highly to very highly stressful.
The good news is that seven in 10 (67 percent) of advisers surveyed said they are doing a good job in managing work-life balance, and 44 percent of advisers said that they feel their ‘personal time is their own’.
Similar research conducted in 2020 across the financial adviser sector in Australia provides a clear caution of the risks Kiwi advisers face if current industry issues aren’t addressed.
“Many of the NZ advisers said the increase in compliance and regulation had already had a negative impact on them. They were very concerned that New Zealand may follow the lead of Australia, where regulatory demands have led to advisers becoming disengaged and more likely to leave the industry,” continues Tremethick. “However, we appreciate the regulatory environment is very different over the Tasman, and maintain that overall the changes in NZ were a needed step to improve the professionalism of our industry, and support good customer outcomes.”
AIA NZ’s Acting CEO, Sharron Botica, agrees. “Having reviewed the research findings, we believe our role at AIA NZ is to be a catalyst for change by raising the conversation around adviser wellbeing with industry bodies and leaders, and to challenge what we can do to collectively make improvements for the future.
“At AIA we are committed to helping people live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives, with the goal of making New Zealand the healthiest and best protected nation in the world. Aotearoa’s financial advisers and their businesses are an important part of this. For a business to be able to deliver meaningful impact, it must be in good shape. And for a business to be in good shape, its people need to be in good shape.”
AIA has committed to looking at their own practices for ways to improve and offer additional support to advisers. Plans include extending AIA NZ's Best Doctor’s offering to all advisers that have a relationship with us. Best Doctors provides the option of securing a second medical opinion on any medical diagnosis, as well as access to a range of medical experts including those specialised in mental health. The company will also host a number of wellness-focussed sessions for advisers throughout the year, and make further enhancements to the current AIA Vitality programme offering for mental wellbeing.
“For us, it's about guiding and supporting each other to think differently about the health of ourselves and our businesses so we can make a greater difference for our clients, our business, our own wellbeing, and our communities,” concludes Botica.
The study contains recommendations for the industry and individual advisers on ways to improve and better support wellbeing outcomes. Please click here for the detailed report and AIA insights.