This blog discusses the findings from our latest adviser wellbeing survey, the second of three pieces of tracker research that will combine to form our upcoming Wellbeing Index. 

Increasing stress levels

59% of advisers have already reported an increase in stress levels since July, and 65% of advisers predict an increase in the next 12 months. This means that not only are almost six in ten advisers more stressed than they were in summer, but some advisers who have already experienced an increase also anticipate a further rise in stress levels still to come. One of the most striking results of our summer Adviser Wellbeing survey was 9 out of 10 of respondents predicting that their stress levels would increase over the next 12 months, primarily due to a feared COVID-19-related increase in demand, with secondary concerns including increased vulnerability of clients or complexity of cases, and uncertainty regarding working environments. 

While the feared increase in demand has yet to materialise, there is a sense among advisers that this will not come until schemes such as furlough and payment holidays have expired, and stress levels have already risen significantly in the four months since the summer survey. An increase in demand remained a significant theme in predicted stressors for the next twelve months.

“[I expect my stress levels to be impacted by] the increased demand for service as we know we are in a lull at the moment which will change”

“Increase in COVID related workload once clients have exhausted their creditor payment holidays.”

“I expect that around 50% of our clients are going to be debt cases and I am the only Money Adviser, with a case load of 120 already. I do not have the capacity to keep taking on new clients”

Other consequences of COVID-19

Leaving aside the still-anticipated influx of cases, plenty of other consequences of COVID-19 remain to explain the widespread increase in stress levels which is already manifesting. The factor identified as most impacting advisers’ wellbeing since July was increased vulnerability of clients (affecting 49% of advisers), followed by increased complexity of cases (35%).

“I worry about clients with no capacity/funds to use a phone”

“We are becoming more Social Workers than advice providers as clients struggle to find help”

“We are seeing far more homeowners now, whilst pre-COVID our debt cases were overwhelmingly renting. These cases can be harder because the appropriateness of statutory debt options is obviously more complicated”

Working environment 

The third impactful stressor was uncertainty regarding a working environment, identified by 35% of respondents. 32% also highlighted a poor work/life balance as a result of working from home. Isolation remained a concern for advisers, with 63% of advisers reporting isolation from the workplace.

I am finding WFH very difficult because it feels like clients and their problems are invading my home.”

“Too isolated and restricted working at home”

“Lack of adequate equipment and inability to switch off from work after working hours”

We asked about the technology associated with working from home, particularly video conferencing software. 70% of advisers found video conferencing software helpful for interacting with colleagues and managers, which tallies with comments indicating that respondents miss interacting casually with their colleagues. However, respondents were mixed on whether they had enough training and support to effectively communicate with clients remotely; 35% disagreed and 36% agreed.

“I like my job when I am in the office, able to debrief after difficult calls and bounce ideas off colleagues, but we do not have good infrastructure in place to be able to do that remotely.”

Continued remote work has also highlighted issues of communication and manager-staff relationships. 28% of advisers identified lack of support from management as a primary stressor, and the number of respondents who agreed that they were adequately supported by management for remote working fell from 60% to 52%.

“Lack of acknowledgement from management that more support and better communication is required due to increased isolation for advisers working from home.”

“Bad management and management style dominates poor culture at work and between colleagues. Stress levels are high, morale is low.”

“Lack of understanding of needs of Money Adviser Managers and Training and Development Officers need to realise this work is not 'Two Minutes, Job Done, Next’”


As discussed in our previous research, advisers were already stretched to capacity and beyond before the onset of COVID-19. Now, they anticipate a further spike in demand. While this has yet to appear, a significant proportion of advisers are already reporting an increase in stress levels due to other complications and consequences of COVID-19. Increasingly vulnerable clients, with attendant issues of digital exclusion and client retention; more complex cases as the typical client profile changes; the strain and isolation of continuing to work from home: all these pressures are already taking their toll on advisers.