At Financial Advice NZ we are fortunate to represent a vibrant sector, populated by great people who really care about Kiwis’ wellbeing, says the organisation’s CEO Katrina Shanks.
At our ‘end of year wrap-up’ webinar in early December we invited a panel of industry leaders to share their highlights and challenges, and what they look forward to in 2022. It was an insightful, heartfelt, and fun session – just what you’d expect when sitting around a virtual table with some of the biggest names in the industry.
It was also our last Bring in the Experts webinar for the year, and our 93rd session since we started this popular series: if you haven’t watched it yet, a recording is available along previous webinars on our members site, members.financialadvice.nz.
In the meantime, I’d like to share my own highlights from the session. One of the key themes our industry experts drew out was the importance of turning change and challenge into opportunities. It may sound like a commonplace statement, but in the past two whirlwind years, regulatory changes have prompted many adviser businesses to really think about their future.
From signing new agreements through to investing in new systems and processes, the transition demanded a certain degree of flexibility and forward-thinking. And as full licence applications start rolling in, I expect more and more adviser businesses to consolidate their strengths and bolster efficiency.
As I’ve noted many times in the past, it goes to highlight that – despite the intensity of the paperwork required – the sector has embraced the new regime and harnessed the opportunities it provided.
Technology as an ally
There’s no denying that lockdowns and social distancing measures have been challenging for the advice sector. Advisers, who have built their businesses on relationships and human connection, had to swiftly adjust to creating that connection ‘virtually’.
It hasn’t been easy for everyone, but it has certainly given way to discussions about using technology in various areas of the business.
Whether that’s more regular email communications with clients or the use of online meeting schedulers, the pandemic has provided unique opportunities to rethink the workplace, assess how time is spent, and importantly, how certain tools can improve the clients’ experience.
It’s about ‘being there for clients’
Over the past two years, not only did adviser businesses prove resilient in the face of uncertainty, but they also proved themselves that they could continue to provide quality advice in almost any environment.
Being there for clients – this was a key highlight for our panel of industry experts and as one of our panelists pointed out: “You can’t be a financial adviser without caring for the people you’re working for and supporting them.”
It takes empathy and commitment. And in uncertain times like these, even just picking up the phone to ask clients how they’re doing can make all the difference – to them, of course, but also to the adviser’s own mood.
Making culture and mental health a priority
In the rollercoaster ride of regulatory change and the Covid-related challenges, it’s also crucial advisers take care of their own welfare. And on this note, it was comforting to hear that all our industry leaders have taken steps to ensure that their own wellbeing, and that of their team, was a top priority.
Even from a distance, many organisations ensured that check-ins happened regularly, taking the time to listen to their people’s concerns. Some even went out of the way with ‘gift boxes’ delivered to staff during lockdown, to help bring the team closer.
While we don’t know what 2022 will bring, it’s probably safe to assume it will be another intense one, marked by full licence applications and other challenges. But the past two years have made us all a bit stronger and aware of our limits. I’m sure this focus on mental health and culture will become more prominent within our sector.
At Financial Advice NZ, we are on a mission to support advisers and the ‘value of advice’ message. We believe it’s the key to tackling underinsurance and help New Zealanders face the future with confidence.