Only 27 people have utilised the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA’s) Wellbeing service in 2020, while the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) have similarly reported low usage of their AFA Cares service.
The FPA released statistics on usage of its service which was available to members and FPA staff to Money Management, but the details within the individual sessions were private and anonymous.
During January, another three cases had been taken and Dante De Gori, FPA chief executive, said the service had not been utilised anywhere near to the extent that he thought it would.
“That’s not to say that advisers aren’t turning to other programs, hopefully they are, my concern is that advisers aren’t utilising not only our program but aren’t utilising programs like that at all,” De Gori said.
Uptake was already low during 2019 and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had done little to improve usage.
“We are completely aware of financial advisers being anxious and concerned about what’s happening – about how they’re going to transition their business, doing the exam, legislative changes,” De Gori said.
“The other area of anxiety is coming from the major licensees getting out of the game or forcing advisers out of their licence.
“That is an area I’m probably more concerned about because being forced out of your employment is not a good thing, but some people are struggling there.”
De Gori said compared to the FPA membership numbers, the number of people that had used the service was much lower than what they had originally expected.
“Predominately our membership base is male, so as a result of that men are less likely to utilise the service,” De Gori said.
“It’s a combination of things, male, the age group as well – older males are less likely to call up – and it’s relatively new.”
The AFA offered members access to AFA Care via a partnership with employee assistance program provider Benestar.
Phil Anderson, AFA general manager, policy and professionalism, said AFA Care offered free, 24/7 access to confidential support and coaching for members, their families and their employees.
“Whilst we have not seen a big uptake of the service, we believe it is essential for us to continue to provide it, particularly considering the very challenging circumstances facing the financial advice profession at this time,” Anderson said.
“We recognise that there is a level of reluctance to seek help, even when people are struggling, and this is why we continue to emphasise the important point that financial advisers need to keep an eye out for their friends and colleagues and to regularly check in and to offer support if there is any sign that it is needed.”