Three industry associations weighed in on whether they should provide funding for research into whether regulatory change had any effect on suicide in the financial advice industry.
The responses came after a leading suicide expert called for further research to be conducted in the space, as reported in a recent Money Management article.
The Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) declined to comment on the question of whether it would provide funding for research into the issue, but pointed to Deakin University’s 2021 Australian Financial Advisers Wellbeing Report.
The report found financial advisers had a 64% higher chance of being in a moderate mental health risk group, a 51% higher chance of being in a high mental health risk group and a 11% higher chance of being in a very high mental health risk group, compared to the average Australian.
On the same question of whether the industry bodies should provide funding for research into advice industry suicides, the Association of Financial Advisers’ (AFA) chief executive, Helen Morgan-Banda, said “this is a serious, industry-wide issue and further research could be of benefit for advisers and the industry as a whole industry”.
The response from a Financial Service Council (FSC) spokesperson was that the organisation was “sensitive to the issues facing the advice community and [had] been actively promoting the value of the sector in meeting consumer needs and supporting their financial decisions”.
“Mental health can affect anyone and the FSC continues to work closely with Government, the mental health community and its members to do everything it can to support consumers suffering from a mental health condition,” said the FSC spokesperson.
Morgan-Banda from the AFA said the association had been particularly concerned for the mental wellbeing of its members over the past two years, following the Royal Commission and the “tsunami of regulatory reforms” which had significantly increased personal and organisational compliance requirements.
“Recent studies such as the one conducted by Deakin, e-lab and Dr Adam Fraser sponsored by AIA, have looked directly at the mental wellbeing of advisers. This research assists in us all gaining a deeper understanding of why greater levels of suicide have been recorded in the industry over the past two years,” Morgan-Banda said.
“They have also helped shed light on the seriousness of the issue of mental health amongst advisers and has been a big part of AFA’s focus of late in terms of supporting advisers through various support mechanisms.”
“Working with partners such as Deakin University, AIA, Beyond Blue, and Benestar, the AFA regularly provides its members with information, training courses and support tools to manage their mental wellbeing.
“Through our relationship with AIA, e-lab and Deakin University, the AFA has shared Dr Fraser’s ‘Australian Financial Advisers Wellbeing Report 2021’ with members. We’ve also had Dr Fraser present to our members on several occasions in 2021 on the results of studies and providing recommendations on how to deal with high levels of stress.”