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AIA Wellbeing Study: Vulnerable conversations ease adviser stress

Anna Schubert, AIA NZ Head of IFA and Group Distribution, has heard some harrowing stories from financial advisers.

Monday, May 20th 2024, 6:39AM

by Andrea Malcolm

Her team of business development managers (BDMs) and wellbeing coaches often have conversations that range across all sorts of issues from work processes, tax and payroll to where are the clients going to come from?

“A lot are frustrated that they no longer get joy in their jobs. They love being in front of clients, but everything else removes that from them. Some get overwhelmed and burn out.”

Upgrading education was a stress point that AIA’s BDM team got to know in depth. There were advisers thinking about leaving the industry, and a few who were really struggling with their mental health.

Now the conversations tend to be more about compliance.

The 2023 New Zealand Wellbeing Research found that advisers are spending 30-40% of their time on admin and there is still some fear of FMA reviews.

In those cases AIA can connect advisers to peers who have already undergone the process, says   AIA NZ Chief Partnership Distribution Officer Sharron Botica, who has discussed the survey outcomes with the FMA. “We believe it's our role to help them navigate.”

Schubert says BDMs get to know advisers on a deep level and work to support their wellbeing. It is quite different to how a sales team of the past would have worked, she says.

Sometimes they will refer advisers to work with AIA vitality coaches Aaron Gilmore and Katie Hunter who can help advisers to reach their peak performance. AIA also offers MyCare which gives advisers access to a mental health navigator. Schubert herself has referred about four advisers through.

Above average

The survey showed that stress is still very high for on average two out of five financial advisers. This compared to statistics for the general population which was one in five. “So this group of people operate in a higher level of stress than the average workforce,” says Schubert.

An exacerbating factor is that independent advisers are mostly sole traders, even when they belong to a FAP group, they are solitary.

While industry support helps advisers cope with the strain of work, many advisers are not accessing the support available, she says. Since the 2021 survey, the number of independent advisers tapping into industry support has increased 4% with 58% doing so from product manufacturers, 57.9% from peers and 53.1% from FAPs and other industry groups such as FANZ, the Financial Service Council, MDRT.

AIA NZ hosts a variety of wellness-focused sessions for advisers throughout the year.

“We find that when we bring advisers together, it's nice to step back and let them network because that's what helps them to build their businesses,” says Botica.

“There are also advisers towards the end of their career or mid-career who want to share their insights and do some mentoring in the industry as well.”

The industry is like a spider web of support, says Schubert. “One person might have many different support layers available to them from different providers. Probably the best quote I've stolen from one of my peers in the industry is that supplier companies co-parent.”

Both Schubert and Botica strongly recommend the Million Dollar Round Table, which like AIA embraces the ‘whole person’ concept.

“MDRT celebrates the individual, their client experience and aspirational development. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” says Schubert.

About 23,000 people go to the international conferences annually, there is learning material online, and mentoring and networking programmes. Qualification is based on commission.

“Whereas previously a lot of insurance companies took advisers overseas on education trips, advisers have been devoid of those types of experiences in recent years. The MDRT fills that gap 100 fold. We really encourage them,” says Botica.

Tags: AIA

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