AMP’s chief executive, Alexis George, has reflected on the firm’s response to addressing the mental health concerns of its adviser network following its controversial changes to its Buyer of Last Resort (BOLR) arrangements in 2019.
In May last year, the Association of Independently Owned Financial Professionals released a survey of 44 AMP financial advisers, 70% of which were exiting the network in response to AMP’s decision to cut ties with less-profitable advisers.
It found 89% had experienced a significant increase in stress levels since August 2019, when AMP’s previous CEO, Francesco De Ferrari, announced changes to the firm’s BOLR arrangements, which would later lead to the exodus of many advisers and an eventual class action lawsuit.
Speaking at an Allan Gray investor webinar, Allan Gray chief investment officer, Simon Mawhinney, asked George what could have been done differently in respect to the mental health of its financial adviser network following these changes.
“It is really hard for me to comment on everything that's happened in the past, right, because I think it's important for me to judge where we were when I arrived, where we are now,” George said.
“I had many advisers contact me before I started, telling their stories and sharing their stories. I think it's really been a very, very difficult time for advisers. And I think we need to acknowledge that, not just advisers at AMP but across the whole industry.
“And mental health clearly is an issue for many people, given what's happened over the last couple of years.”
She said AMP had since put a lot of effort and resources into supporting the mental health of its advisers and its people more generally.
“It’s certainly a topic that's really important to me, and I do a lot of work on it in my spare time, volunteering. So I think we're cognisant of that and supportive of that. And I acknowledge all of those things.
“But in our advice space, particularly, we did need to make some changes to be sustainable for our customers, for our advisers, and for our shareholders. And I don't know what happened at the past, but I know the current team always does that with the mental health and wellbeing of our network and our people in mind.”
The outlook for George was positive with her acknowledgement that this was “probably the most optimistic advice community… for many years”.
“I think there is an opportunity with the Quality of Advice Review to see positive changes. I think the regulators are also saying, ‘how can we simplify things and help you simplify things?’ I think there's some really positive momentum there.”