Financial planners report high anxiety

Katina Curtis, AAP Senior Political Writer
Financial advisers say they are feeling very stressed by the focus on regulation of the industry

The weight and speed of changes around financial planning following the banking royal commission have stressed out many in the industry.

Two peak bodies for financial advisers have told the House of Representatives economics committee on Tuesday their members are in a heightened state of anxiety.

"The sheer weight and number of reforms, we've seen so much reform," Association of Financial Advisers chief executive Philip Kewin told the committee via videolink.

"Everyone's committed to professionalism, but the journey to professionalism has been so rapid and the change has been so monumental that it has put an extreme amount of pressure on financial advisers."

He was aware of one AFA member who had taken their own life and said that was one too many.

Financial Planning Association of Australia head Dante De Gori said the royal commission, which reported in early 2019, had put a heavy focus on the industry and its regulation.

"There are indeed members and financial planners out there who are struggling ... and we have heard of situations where people have really needed crisis support in respect to mental health," he told the committee.

Others had left the profession.

Labor MP Daniel Mulino said it was clear from the royal commission the regulatory regime in the sector needed strengthening.

"It can appear to me that sometimes the peak bodies in this sector, it's almost like the first reaction is to push back against reform," he said.

The peak bodies also highlighted the role of a new exam run by the government's Financial Adviser Standards and Ethics Authority that advisers are required to take by the end of 2021.

Mr Mulino was concerned that out of 23,000 advisers, only 7000 had taken the test.

AFA treasurer Sam Perera said many advisers in their 60s had been doing a good job advising clients and had no complaints but were daunted by having to sit the test on complex subject matter under exam conditions.

"It's a barrier that is preventing them or is certainly, I suppose, discouraging them from sitting the exam and there may be a level of procrastination because of that," he said.

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