A new report released by leading life insurer AIA NZ, found the overall wellbeing of Kiwi financial advisers has improved since 2021; however more support is needed to enable advisers to thrive.
In 2021, AIA NZ sponsored an independent adviser wellbeing research project to better understand the current health and wellbeing of the adviser market in New Zealand. With a notable shift in market conditions since then, AIA NZ has commissioned a second independent study this year.
Conducted by Dr Adam Fraser, founder of The e-lab, and Dr John Molineux from Deakin University, the study aimed to better understand how heightened industry regulation, operating in a challenging economic environment, and changing client needs, have impacted the adviser industry.
Sharron Botica, AIA NZ Chief Partnership Distribution Officer, says prioritising the mental health and wellbeing of advisers is not only important for their own personal and professional development, but also for the financial wellbeing of the clients they serve and critically, the Financial Services industry.
“With extreme weather events and the rising cost of living, we know advisers have been working under difficult circumstances to support customers. That’s why we want to better understand the demanding conditions they’re operating in, so we know how best to support them.”
Although the overall wellbeing of financial advisers showed signs of improvement since 2021, stress remains a concerning factor. Government regulation was the highest cause of stress for advisers in 2021 at 61%. However, this year’s results found the main pressure point for advisers was compliance, with 50% rating it as ‘highly’ or ‘very highly’ stressful.
“Compared to previous research, we’re noticing a real sense of anxiety which has shifted away from the unknown and towards the fear of making a mistake. This comes as regulation, compliance, and auditing remains front of mind for advisers,” continues Sharron.
“That’s why our team at AIA NZ is committed to helping advisers navigate industry regulations, to ensure they have the support and guidance needed to best serve their customers.”
While there has been improvement since 2021, the impact of stress on advisers’ health and wellbeing remains a concern. The biggest impact was experiencing sleep issues (41%), followed by the risk of taking stress leave (19%), seeking medical support (17%), and using alcohol to manage stress (15%).
Advisers coping well are managing their stress by turning to others for support, including product manufacturers (58.0%), industry peers (57.9%), as well as groups and FAPs (53.1%). Others are tackling stress by adopting good wellbeing habits, such as improving their ability to draw boundaries around work-from-home (increased by 7%), and showing more consideration to self-development in their role (increased by 4%).
AIA NZ’s commitment
"Having reviewed the research findings, it’s encouraging to see signs of improvement across the board, however, the impact that stress is having on adviser health and wellbeing is a concerning factor which needs to be addressed,”
“We believe our role as leaders in the industry is to ensure our advisers have the tools and support to be mentally healthy, focus on their wellbeing, and have the opportunity to thrive and do what they do best every day.”
“At AIA NZ, we’re 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. To achieve this, we need to spark a conversation around adviser wellbeing, and make it a priority amongst both advisers and the industry as a whole.”
AIA NZ is committed to being a catalyst for change and is looking at its own practices for ways to improve and offer additional support for advisers. Plans include continuing AIA NZ’s AIA MyCare offering, which gives advisers a second medical opinion on any medical diagnosis, providing access to a range of medical experts, including mental health specialists.
It will also continue its focus on wellness-centred sessions for advisers throughout the year and plans further enhancements to the current AIA Vitality programme offering for mental wellbeing.
“Our goal as an industry needs to remain on supporting advisers, improving their overall wellbeing, and creating a safe and supportive industry now, and for generations to come,” concludes Sharron.
The study contains recommendations for the industry and individual advisers on ways to improve and better support wellbeing outcomes. Please view the detailed research report and AIA NZ’s insights.