One in five brokers has contemplated leaving the industry due to stress

26 November 2018

One in five brokers has contemplated leaving the industry due to stress, new research by Ecclesiastical has revealed.

In the first survey of its kind the specialist insurer lifts the lid on the mental health issues facing brokers across the UK.   
It reveals that the majority of brokers (78%) admit to feeling stressed at work, with a third of these suffering from stress at least once a week. Half of brokers say they feel anxious at work and nearly as many regularly feel overwhelmed by work pressures. Worryingly one in five say they have suffered depression related to work.  
The figures suggest that brokers are more likely to suffer from stress than the average financial services worker. Recent research by Business in the Community1 found that 66% of employees in the financial services sector have experienced a mental health condition as a result of work in the past year.
Heavy workloads combined with tight deadlines and the volume of paperwork they have to deal with are the main causes of stress for brokers. However, a fifth of brokers also blame pressure to hit targets, with this figure rising to a third for those employed by national broker firms. 
The most common effects of stress are problems sleeping and relaxing, followed by problems concentrating. As well as the mental health impacts, brokers admit that stress also affects their health and lifestyle with less healthy eating, less exercise and increased alcohol intake. 
The research found that younger brokers and those employed at national broker firms are more likely to suffer from stress and also feel the effects more keenly.     
Stressed brokers are most likely to discuss their issues with family and friends, followed by colleagues, before they seek out help from their manager or HR department. 
While a quarter of the 250 brokers surveyed feel the industry needs to do more to reduce the stigma of mental health, many broker firms are taking action to promote better mental wellbeing. Almost half of brokers (48%) report their firms are enabling flexible working. Creating a supportive culture which promotes mental wellbeing is also mentioned (38%), while a fifth report advice and guidance, employee support or counselling are available.
Adrian Saunders, commercial director at Ecclesiastical, said: “The stigma of mental health is starting to change as we become more comfortable talking about it as a society and it’s encouraging that the brokers who completed our survey felt able to talk about their issues. 
“One in four of us will be affected by mental ill health of some kind so it’s important that businesses create a culture where people are able to talk about it and feel comfortable seeking advice and guidance if they start suffering problems.
“There is some good progress being made but it’s a worrying statistic that one in five brokers has contemplated leaving the industry due to stress, and this figure is even higher for younger brokers, so clearly more has to be done.”
Recent figures2 from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety has increased in recent years with 15.4 million working days lost across the UK economy in 2017/18. 
Ecclesiastical Insurance is committed to changing the conversation around mental health and supports a number of programmes to promote better mental wellbeing. Mental health training for all managers has recently been rolled out and the insurer has also introduced counselling support and wellness action plans.  


1. Mental Health at Work report 2018
2. Work-related stress depression or anxiety statistics in Great Britain, 2018
Broker wellbeing [side image]