GUEST COLUMNIST – KATRINA SHANKS
Financial Advice NZ’s CEO Katrina Shanks says a number of surveys have highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on Kiwis’ financial health and that in a year of changing regulations it’s also important to talk about financial advisers’ wellbeing.
We welcomed a recent report released in Australia by Deakin University and e-Lab, which takes a close look at how Australian financial advisers are feeling and some of their most effective coping strategies.
While it’s not an NZ-based survey, there’s no denying advisers have been experiencing similar challenges on either side of the Tasman. As we continue to support New Zealand advisers through the changes that the past year has brought, I have noted down some interesting takeaways below.
Wellbeing, mental health and quality of life
The Australian report raised important concerns around the current wellbeing of financial advisers.
Remarkably, Australian advisers scored worse on most measures than both the average Australian and other stressful and demanding jobs (e.g., HR professionals, hospital emergency room staff, school principals, etc.).
In particular, advisers scored worst in mental health, wellbeing, stress levels, and feelings of overload – and second-lowest after school principals in work-life balance. Also, most advisers (73%) experienced high levels of work-related burnout, with many also reporting poor sleep and some level of depression.
Sobering statistics that highlight just how critical wellbeing is in our personal and professional environments.
We need to make sure that advisers feel supported in their important role, that they feel rewarded and valued, and that their quality of life is as good as it can be.
Key challenges and possible solutions
While we don’t have local data to refer to, this report helps highlight key areas worth focusing on, including:
- Ongoing support on regulation and compliance. The importance of facilitating a smooth and well-informed transition to the new regime is something that Financial Advice NZ has long recognised.
- Not only we’ve been working closely with the regulator to provide support and resources to all our members, but we also continue to advocate for the advice message with the public, to help more and more Kiwis understand how financial advice can benefit them.
- Industry support. Advisers who are active members of an industry association, and seeking help or engaging in industry support services, reported better wellbeing that those who don’t. Echoing the report’s recommendations, we strongly believe that industry support can help reduce stress and anxiety for advisers, moderating the impact of job demands and stressors.
- Developing adaptive skills. Research shows that advisers who have adaptive skills are more likely to have better wellbeing and mental health, but also achieve better business performance. Sometimes change can be stressful, but as any advisers know in their line of business, if you look closely, changes can be opportunities under cover. It’s been great to see many New Zealand advisers recognise the potential of the new regime, and use it to expand their skillset.
- Balancing work and life. The importance of a good work-family balance cannot be stressed enough, especially for advisers running their business from home.
- Prioritising wellbeing. According to the report, advisers who engage in regular recovery activities – including exercising, meditating, and practising a hobby outside of work – are more likely to feel better overall. Financial advisers do a great job at helping Kiwis prioritise their wellbeing, but in doing so, it’s crucial that they don’t lose sight of their own health.
Our ongoing peer support programme
In the past months, to help our Financial Advice NZ members cope with the impact of Covid-19, we started a peer support programme. About 30 senior advisers have volunteered their time, and we receive a few requests for support every month.
We welcome financial advisers to contact us should they like to learn more or participate. As the report found, mentoring and coaching can make a big difference in mitigating stress, coping with the workload, and approaching challenges with a different perspective.
Visit Financial Advice NZ’s Support Resources page to learn more about our adviser support and resources.
In addition to this, at our national conference in November we will have a few sessions on “tools for you”, which are designed to help you look at your life and give you additional skills or refresh some of the skills you already have.