Adviser mental health burden needs to be addressed

The industry and government have not addressed the mental health burden it has placed on financial advisers and it is a huge loss to lose quality advisers due to anxiety, according to an adviser.

HH Wealth director and financial adviser, Chris Holme, said he had numerous conversations with good advisers that wanted to leave the industry due to stress and anxiety rather than education or compliance obligations.

“They're just so burnt out and depressed and anxious. They’re dealing with so much stress that they can't do it as it's hugely sad to me that’s happening,” he said.

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“It would be a huge loss to the industry and I just can't believe it's because of anxiety, stress and depression. I think it's a huge issue that that hasn't really been addressed.”

Holme said while it was a good thing the Government was trying to improve outcomes for clients it had not realised how much it had put on the shoulders of advisers.

“It just seems like there's no break to it. It seems like that we get over one hurdle and then there's something else that then gets implemented or another piece of legislation that gets pushed towards us,” he said.

“Don't get me wrong I'm a huge advocate for improving advice. I was looking through all these things got wow, actually, all of this sort of stuff actually happened within the like the last 12 months it's a huge amount of change and a huge amount of obligations that we need to be across.”

Holme noted another factor was that despite all the changes in short succession, the outcome for not complying were civil penalties and that was another stress inducing factor.

“There’s civil penalties for not being across it and there's no transition period for. You're either as part of the obligations or you're in trouble – that is also stressful to people,” he said.

“I don't have an issue with the legislation it's just the fact that it's happened all so quickly and that it's built up and built up. There's a few advisers that are going ‘I just can't, I can't keep shouldering this, run a practice, being able to look after my clients, and myself and my mental health’.”

For Holme, while he was also to keep up with all the new obligations, he would not be able to have a positive view on everything if not for his licensee, Spark Financial Group.

“I wouldn't be able to have a positive view on all this sort of stuff without the fact that they've actually helped us through everything. It's huge – the amount of support they're throwing at us,” Holme said.

“They are on the front foot straightaway to communicate to us exactly what the obligations are and they put a process in place to help us to make sure that we meet them. While it's in their best interest obviously to do that, the amount of communication definitely helps with being on top of everything and actually being a little bit more relaxed about things or at least positive about it.

“When we're going through enhanced fee disclosure statement and opt in obligations and things like that we were having almost twice weekly teleconferences to go through it.”

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I've started seeing a phycologist for the first time in my life. My blood pressure was very high and after running all the tests including a 24 hour blood pressure monitor my blood pressure was actually OK. My GP asked if I was stressed at all and after opening up about trying to transition all my clients onto fixed term contracts through Melbourne's extensive lockdowns I realised I was actually quite stressed.
I've heard the line a few times we know how challenging this is for you guys/ We appreciate how challenging this is for you guy etc. I'm yet to see anything tangible come our way that has even remotely assisted us or genuinely acknowledged the challenge we're going through just so we can get to an end outcome that seems unworkable.
The struggles for advisers are real and the mental and also physical strains it's causing are real. I can't speak on behalf of all advisers but you do get to a point were you start wondering if this is worth it anymore. I got into planning because I liked helping people. Those are not the headlines we seem to see though.
We're not used to asking for help as and industry. We're used to just getting on with it and jumping through the next hoop that's been put in front of us and maybe that's part of our problem. That and the fact that no one is listening and no one seems like they're going to take it a step further than understanding the challenges we're facing. If they actually understood they'd do something about it.

Yes, Senator Hume....all empathy and no action.

i just thought i'd add to yours, the stress has been immense and i am drinking a lot. i need to seek help and this post is going to give me the courage to do just that.

thanks for your support. i will get help.

Great article Jassmyn

Continuing to raise the awareness of the impacts on the Mental Health of Advisers, their staff and families is commendable. However an article of this type without reference to one of the many support organisations makes it very shallow. And then I see that its an even cheaper plug for an AFSL!!
Our industry needs real and active Mental Health support for everyone effected by the massive change in our industry.

The struggle is real - the stress and anxiety that comes with all these changes, the pressure and the immense record keeping obligations are beyond any reasonable expectations. No other profession has the same stresses that I am aware of. We are hampered by lack of efficiencies, outdated technology, a tiered licensing structure, a constant comparison to the worst of the bunch, lack of any positive media support and a government who doesn't even seem to understand what we do or how we do it. Client's (and I mean clients, not customers) don't want all this regulation and red tape, we just want to deal with our clients and do the best by them but now it seems they are an after thought as all we do is write documents and prepare reports for lawyers and licensees. Clients don't want to pay for all this administration - and most aren't as we just continue to shoulder the burden ourselves and can barely keep up. Adviser's help people, they are generally the most empathetic and caring people and will do whatever it takes to ensure their clients receive the best of them - to their own detriment. War and Peace over - but felt like I needed to share!

And yet advisers will still vote Liberal and still remain members of the FPA who were 100% complicit in what has occurred.

You seem to think the alternative would be better. I just can't see a world where that would be the case

I know a lot of advisers. Almost all are ditching the useless coalition and lobbying clients to vote this pathetic rabble out. Very easy to do with fee rises and insane, lengthy redtape BS documents. Emotions are high and it's got to the point where many just want revenge now. I never thought I would say this, but we were better off with shorten. If Labor are smart, they will listen to our cries and maybe our votes will be more sticky than a single election protest vote. Stranger things have happened.

Solution? Only work with ideal clients and cull the rest! This way you will achieve the trifecta of business sucess.
1. Only work with clients who you want to work with.
2. Only offer services to clients who pay you well for your time, expertise, qualifications and services.
3. Have time to also do the things important to you. i.e. health, relationships, growth new experiences and being of value to others.

it is so true. friends and colleagues the fact is that many people view advisers as someone to use and abuse. if you do what this person above has said then you will be less resentful of your work.

I have halved my business on purpose over the last 5 years but I am actually much more profitable and happier. work is but one part of our lives. we also have family and children. we are very much real people with our own set of real issues to contend with on a daily basis.

Thanks annon.
..... and the bonus to this trifecta is we have and continue to grow a waiting list of clients too.

For RG245 and ASIC INFO256, I post out 3 lots of forms for client to sign and post back, I get 1 out of 3 back. Clients do not understand any of this regulatory compliance obligations - its all legalistic mumbo jumbo to clients - look in their eyes - glazed over! The compliance paperwork workload has increased 4 times, which is all lost time to provide value-adding advice, that adds up to compliance depression syndrome imposition on advisers.

Why don't you do it electronically. or get them in?


Emails not working in Victoria?

Yeah ok, Dear client - please print these 3 forms each 4-7 pages long, read carefully so you can figure out where to sign them sign them, then scan them all and email them back to us. Great idea Billy Bob. Very client focussed

Your answer highlights the issue. Clients don’t need to print sign and scan back! There are so many digital solutions available. And don’t tell me that your clients don’t know how to use it.

The clients who don’t send it back are generally the busy ones. I have clients in their 80’s use digital signatures too so that’s no excuse just get on the phone and talk then through it

I have not had one client not return paperwork so it probably says more about the relationship with the client than anything else and the value they see in your service

Clients don't need to print and scan back? They do actually, in many cases. Your snide comment reveals more about your business - clearly one solution for all clients.

if you are doing digital signatures with 80-year-olds (as you mention that specifically) you might have a hard time trying to defend yourself against a claim at AFCA with fasea standard 7, free, prior, and informed consent.

digital signatures are a business efficiency tool. how does it help your client? it helps you, and there you breach standards, 1, 2, and 3, and the conflict priority rule: to prefer the client's interest over your own.

and because you breach standards 7 and 1,2,3, you also breach 4. then because you breached 7, 1,2,3,4 you also breach standard 10. the tests are circular if you like.

and I am just doing what I am told to do by standard 12. and as we are after the 5th of October, you are required to self report a breach (or potential significant breach) to your licensee who then needs to report the breach (or the likelihood of a significant breach to ASIC)

so good luck trying to defend against an 80-year-old signing by digital signature. because you can't just say the client consented, you have to be able to prove how he gave informed consent, and how you satisfied yourself that it was indeed informed consent. going through a much more laborious process of getting the client to print the paper forms then go to office works to scan and email to you during a lockdown in Melbourne might just do that.

I know the standards are problematic, we as a profession are going to have a lot of problems with them.

I have passed fasea exam, have an m fin plan and cfp (the real version for those of you who might otherwise say it was grandfathered)

p.s. don't panic just go back through your list and contact all your clients and do it manually and then write an assessment, i actually call it an analytical review, and then file note it about how you went through the process of getting informed consent and on what basis you believe test it would a reasonable man on the street believe you. you have to do this for everything.

p.s.s. and people wonder why the adviser population is going to halve.

Seriously???? Do you think I would just send an email with no other context or phone call discussion. I am confident I have breached no standards. I too have passed the exam and have as many if not more quals than what you state.

It is not only a business efficiency tool, it is also a much more transparent process than what you probably do of just getting the client to sign the page at the end of the document. It also can save the client time etc.

80 year clients are not morons as you clearly imply and most are very capable of reading an email.

I am lucky to be in a state that is not locked down (SA) so for the 2 or 3 clients I have had to send the e signing options too and talked through the process I have very well documented notes.

You seem to be missing the point of the article “Adviser mental health burden needs to be addressed”. Can you please add these comment’s to the article titled e signatures, the efficiency tool of the future?
Can you also clarify that your stance is that mental health isn’t an issue for advisers because of e signatures?

it's not what I think (or you for that matter) it's what AFCA thinks that matters. I am sure you have many more qualifications than me, in fact, I'd say you have a doctorate or two in financial planning and working on a third doctorate (from a real university like harvard) and are also a nasa scientist and superhero in your spare time.

I have enough qualifications to practice as a financial planner that's all that matters. and a Kaplan masters. all good. because I am lazy (i think that will help a lot of you feel better about yourselves).

I hope you will be ok with AFCA though. 80-year-old clients are not morons. but AFCA or others won't assume they are fine and dandy like you think they are. that's just your opinion. and remember, clients, are only loyal to a certain point if they see they can fleece someone for a couple of hungees. they will change their tune very quickly.

remember AFCA coach complainants. ask others who have been through the AFCA process. afca don't follow rules of evidence, most people who work there are not lawyers. they are customer service officers with no knowledge of well anything.

a lot of advisers who have left haven't come on this forum to say exactly why they left but the vast majority are very honest people they wouldn't rip people off and they don't want to go through any issues with AFCA.

that's why the vast majority are leaving. good luck with your digital signatures. I am doing video recordings of everything to prove that the client understood. otherwise, I don't take any clients if they don't consent to video recording. then I add on tons of paperwork to protect myself. my licensee can't believe how much torture I put clients through. they laugh. they wish everyone was like me. I just blame it all on ASIC, the government and everyone else, and the royal commission. clients sympathize with me.

thanks but no thanks if you think I am going to be subject to baseless claims. be warned. go with paper.

they have been clients since 1990 which began with the first Allocated Pension: LifeTrack. They are now in their 80s and some now in their 90s. I was double Pfizer vaccinated by 7 April in Hong Kong and Qantas cancelled my flight bookings 3 times. The majority of these clients do not have computer printer scanner. If I could get back to Australia, I would normally visit them 2 times a year.

Fair enough in those cases, but they would be rare I would say? Can you not do verbal consent over the phone and record it ?

a former adviser did a retail investment transaction and got the client's sign-off afterwards. He was sacked by the employer and over 2 years later, A-sic came to do a new investigation from the beginning again, wherein A-sic banned him for the following 30 months. He was doubled punished after he had acted in the best interest of the client. Acting in the client's best interests was no defence from A-sic enforcement of the black letter Law. I tell clients that I am not going to get banned for 30 months and they must sign off on documents in the first instance.

ross, you keep putting a name to your posts. they are going to jam you big time. be anonymouse.

from the ancient Book of Han "From facts, seek truth". AFA found the truth that small financial advising Licensees, subject to A-sic industry levies for enforcements and litigations following the Hayne RC against institutions, that when the institutions paid compensation to A-sic, it went into Treasury general revenue and not applied to offset industry levies on small financial advising Licensees. Is that a deceptive trade practice under Commonwealth Legislation? Is the Commonwealth Government exonerated from engaging in deceptive trade practices? should there be an independent Federal ICAC?

Max clients 150. Min client fee $5,500. No new insurance clients and getting rid of insurance only clients.

I wish i had that many clients i could pick and chose from! I dare say i am not the only one.

There is 1 piece of legislation that is 112 pages long, 3 sets of rules, and essentially 1 regulator governing the launching of rockets in Australia.

It is legally far easier to comply with the rules around launching a rocket into space than it is to give a client a Statement of Advice in Australia. If only financial advice was as easy as rocket science.

but financial advice IS more complex than rocket science.

because we are a land of stupids. we are a stupid nation of drunks.

we dig holes and sell all our raw material (with no value-added), we bury ourselves deep in debt to invest in one asset class -residential property

then we open the immigration floodgates to keep the property Ponzi scheme going

hocking ourselves to eyeballs in debt, with all our "eggs in one basket" we aggravate our biggest customer who absorbs nearly 35% of all our goods and services.

our people are drunks and short-term oriented with barely anyone thinking beyond the week, let alone 12 months onwards, which is beyond anyone's comprehension.

our comeuppance is nigh.

Land of Stupids - sounds like a nice name for a new sauvignon blanc.

@ wonder dog,
I'm just wondering, do you already have a 150 clients paying you a minimum client fee of $5,500 per ?
Or is this your aspirational target ?
Further, I guess if you had that many clients with a minimum of $550,000 FUM and you charged 1.0% p.a you could possibly get away with you probably hitting your target.
So what do you do if market volatility over a 12 months period reduces clients, portfolios.
Do you retain your minimum fee and expect the client to accept an additional 1.0% loss ? (that's for your compensation).

Do you have clients with say $350,000 FUM still willing to pay you a minimum of $350,000 (approximately 1.57% p.a.) or do you only take on HNW type clients ?
Just wondering ?

Spoke with my GP today. When I told him in May I was exiting the industry, he was shocked. Wanted to arrange counselling and put me on medication for anxiety. I told him I needed to exit, which I have done. Told me today that he now three other Advisers on Income Protection claims. I'm now in a good space, but this is a disaster.

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