Advice industry suffers from spike in suicides


Consistent and continuous regulatory change over the past decade has exacerbated the mental health of advisers to the point that more people in the industry are dying by suicide, according to Infocus chief executive Darren Steinhardt.

With only 61% of advisers passing the September Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority (FASEA) exam, Steinhardt said it was disgraceful that no journalist or politician had brought up the effect low passing rates and rapid regulatory change had on mental health and suicides.

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“If you remember when Julia Gillard changed the live cattle exports, there were a handful of suicides of cattle producers and all of a sudden there was uproar around the country and things changed,” he said.

Steinhardt said he knew eight advisers directly who died by suicide linked to quick moving legislation and the disruption it had caused to their lives.

“Some of the change has been good but a lot of it has been well intentioned but absolutely misguided and it’s absolutely hurt many people who have invested heavily in their businesses,” Steinhardt said.

Professor David Crompton, a leading researcher of suicide prevention from Griffith University, said: “It is difficult to determine why people choose to die by suicide and that there are many factors influencing that such as age, family situations, history of mental illness but the fact that people are raising this as a problem means it should be critically evaluated”.

Steinhardt said he knew a couple of “good advisers” with tertiary degrees from 35 years ago that were no longer relevant who were yet to pass the FASEA exam.

“They are very good financial advisers, but they haven’t done an exam like this in a formal setting in a long time,” he said.

“Both have failed a couple of times and so the anxiety that puts on them – they’ve kind of already failed before they start because of the stress and pressures now on them.

“If they don’t get this right they’ve got to walk away – their careers are finished well and truly before they are due to finish.”

For every one person forced out of the industry, Steinhardt said another half a dozen staff who would also no longer have a job.

“They’ve got families, responsibilities for their business and staff – if they fail it’s more than them that’s out of the industry,” he said.

While there were businesses such as his set up to support advisers through the exam process, there was not a great deal of support that could be provided as there was not the staff bandwidth to do so.

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Thanks Darren for bringing attention to this....but Advisers need to look themselves in the mirrow and be accountable. Treasury hate Advisers because we stick up for Consumers....Advisers pay money to Industry Associations to act on your behalf to bring attention to these issue to Regulatory Bodies....and importantly to prevent over Regulation and Government intervention. Yet despite the amount of Government intervention the Board and CEO of the FPA remains and these many deaths and FASEA's fails will all be in vain. I suggest Advisers leave these Associations in droves comes January 1 and vote with there feet otherwise those deaths are for nothing....spend the savings on a family vacation or at least join one of many charging just $500.

What a hide to say basically “stuff the old brigade” of advisers
You who have obviously little idea of empathy in this profession stand up and say such an outrageous comment
Do this for 40 years see the pain and anguish that advisers go through with clients and then tell us you think it’s all about education and product knowledge
That’s what’s missing in today’s advisers understanding and experience

Hi Kenny, so you're coming out with the tired old trope of "we're only doing it for the clients" not the big, fat juicy commissions that you guys used to earn. But some of your cohort got a little bit tooo greedy and so ASIC came down on the rest of us with their bullsh*t regulatory regime, smothering us all with compliance/bureaucracy and you want us to feel sorry for.... the insurance salesmen, seriously?

Ol' Timer - didn't you post a few months ago saying you had given up this profession and moving on into charity or philanthropic or NFP sector? If so, how come you're still here commenting? Can't let go?? Move on buddy, let it go.

Hi Kenny, so you're coming out with this tired old trope of "we were doing it for the clients" not the big, fat, juicy commissions you used to earn.
But some of your cohort got a little too greedy and ASIC came down with their bullsh*t regulatory regime, with a blanket compliance/bureaucracy blanket on all of us. And you want us to feel sorry for who, exactly... the insurance salesmen?

I can tell how low this profession has fallen when I see the adviser vs adviser diatribe in this thread. I can see important arguments being offered on both sides of the fence, but there is a truly worrying sign of viciousness creeping in where advisers are retreating to their own ideologies rather than engaging each other. Borne out of heavy frustration and fatigue as a result of over-regulation and other pressures no doubt and understandable in some sense, but for goodness sake, isn't it time to come together on these issues. Anyone who can boil down the world of financial advice to some sort of utopian vision where everything perfect, and all will be well if product providers can't do this, and advisers should be able to do that etc needs to understand that these matters are exceptionally complex. This is an article about adviser mental health and if true, it is exceptionally worrying. We know that Australian's need advice and this is important to the nation, that fees are getting higher for clients, that we are losing great advisers (not only because of the difficulties in the profession but due to suicide it seems), there are next to no new advisers coming through the system. Not a pretty picture. And then an article is written about adviser mental health and death, and there is very little solidarity shown for fellow practitioners (or very little from what I can see). It reminds me of what has been happening to the Legal profession, where the guns have been turned inwards. The NSW Law Society is a shadow of its former self as a result. Advisers are choosing to end their lives rather that go on...we need to know why, we need a multi-factor analysis to determine the causes so we can be clear on how to help to prevent it happening as a profession. And we need to do it without the guns turned on each other. Just my two cents.

Well said!!

Totally agree, this is very sad. I guess we won't know who are actually practitioners who think that way and who are simply outsiders with no real purpose except to cause strife.

Totally disagree.....what's changed nothing.... I refuse to let those people die for nothing. And so if you're a little shocked at someone calling out something than I say GOOD.

If you decided to publish this comment or not, please include contact details to Lifeline - 13 11 14 - in your article.
Any article discussing mental health, let along suicide should supporter readers potentially at risk. Providing this number can help.

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