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The silent epidemic the finance industry can no longer ignore

by Bronwyn Penhaligon11 minute read

The financial services industry has seen a significant transformation in the last decade, propelled by the digital revolution that continues to reshape processes and enhance accessibility.

Attend any personal development day and you’ll be delivered content that encourages the audience to constantly innovate, embrace change, harness the digital tools available, and connect with customers online. Ideally, in real time.

As an industry, we quickly established that AI cannot replace true human engagement. A ‘bot’ will only get you so far and no carefully crafted email funnel will ever achieve the same effect as a real-life conversation. When it comes to money, most people still want to talk to a real person. And that’s fair enough.

However, with online engagement being a ‘critical path’ to lead acquisition, is the expectation now that to be a successful broker means in addition to performing your role and meeting compliance requirements, you are also a digital marketer?


It seems that having a curated website, multiple referral sources, digital lead magnets, and an authentic and personable social media presence across multiple platforms (that is frequently refreshed) is no longer best practice, it’s the bare minimum.

But are we taking on too much? Adding on additional responsibilities means that the risk of burnout is real. As someone deeply immersed in this area, I see firsthand the effects of the constant push to achieve. Trust me, there’s nothing impressive about burnout.

But despite the best intentions, mental health concerns within the financial services industry remain a seldom-addressed issue. Statistics from Beyond Blue reported that in any given year, a staggering one in five Australians grapple with mental illness; with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse being the most prevalent. While this number is substantial, these statistics just represented the people who seek help.

And I’d suggest the true impact of our industry pressures is much higher.

In the world of broking, it often feels ‘high-stakes’; a powerful combination of unrelenting pressure and the expectation to ‘do more’.

By the time they reach out, most of my clients find themselves on the verge of burnout. They’re stuck in a cycle of overthinking and procrastination, struggling with focus and decision making. They have their mobile phones with them at dinner, their laptops with them on holiday, yet no time for friends and family.

The need to be ‘always on’ and ‘always available’ has created a dangerous habit. They’re all digitally connected but feel very alone.

Add to this that studies conducted by Beyond Blue have found that men are less likely to seek support for mental health than women – and an average of 6.4 men die by suicide every day across Australia – it’s clear we need to create opportunities for genuine connection – in real life, without filters or bravado.

After all, this industry is still mostly dominated by men (making up approximately 75 per cent of the broking industry, according to the latest stats from the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia).

It’s fantastic to see more events and groups launching to bring together the industry – and particularly men – to create safe spaces for open conversations about mental health, breaking down stigmas, and promoting understanding (such as the Mantalk initiatives). These connections empower men to prioritise their mental wellbeing, share how they negotiate the competing demands of business, and look after themselves.

But changing how you operate begins with considering what works for you and what doesn’t.

To start reclaiming your time and move toward a more sustainable work/life, you can immediately put in place the following:

  • Set boundaries around how ‘available’ you allow yourself to be to clients.
  • Assess which of your online activities genuinely works for you and perhaps let the others go.
  • Invest time in real connections where you feel seen, heard, and supported.

And, if you’re struggling, reach out to someone you trust or a mental health professional.

Bronwyn Penhaligon is a trained strategic psychotherapist and the founder of Penhaligon Applied Psychology.

She is on a mission to empower her clients to unlock their skills and transform their lives.

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