Financial advisers need to pay close attention to the mental health of their colleagues and clients, Affinia general manager, Craig Parker believes.
Parker called on planning practices to take greater action to deal with the effects of mental illness, noting that research by SuperFriend — a foundation established by Industry Super Funds and insurers — had found that over a five year period from 2007 to 2011, claims related to suicide collectively cost the super funds’ insurers over $200 million with an average cost per claim of $120,410. While mental illness-related Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) claims cost $147.9 million, at an average cost per claim of $82,960.
“It is just so important for the advice community to have a clear understanding of mental health and stress in order to better understand clients’ circumstances and to intimately provide them with the best service possible,” he said.
“Having the right type of conversation with a client can ensure, for example, that all relevant disclosures are made at application time. And helping clients at claim time in relation to mental illness is also a crucial time of support and service.
“We need to have open conversations about mental health issues and recognise that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.
“This can be challenging but it will ensure that we are creating the best environment for ourselves, our family and friends, our staff and colleagues and of course, our clients.”
Parker’s push to raise awareness of the importance of assisting clients and colleagues suffering from mental-illnesses followed World Mental Health Day and as the annual Movember push to raise awareness of men’s health issues (including depression and other mental health conditions) draws to a close.
Parker said, “awareness is often the best starting place and I believe there is a need for the advice profession to continually explore the sorts of impact mental health and stress can have both at practice level in terms of employee health and wellbeing, and in terms of better managing our clients”.
This article first appeared on ‘Money Management’ on 26 November 2014.