Mortgage brokers not prioritising health

Broker shares own wellbeing journey

Mortgage brokers not prioritising health


By Ryan Johnson

Mortgage brokers are known for their resilience and dedication to their clients. But what happens when they put their own health on the back burner?

Niti Bhargava (pictured above), a mortgage broker from Resolve Finance, knows all too well the dangers of neglecting your health. At the age of 27, she was diagnosed with diabetes.

Bhargava started noticing her health deteriorating, feeling increasingly tired and had blurred vision.

“I was in denial for the first couple of years thinking that it could never happen to me,” Bhargava said. “I soldiered on in spite of it all.”

“The longer you go on like that, the more it becomes a part of your routine, and you begin to think the symptoms are normal.” 

However, when her condition worsened, Bhargava couldn’t ignore it any longer.

“I collapsed and the next thing I knew I was waking up in the hospital. They said I nearly went into a coma.”

Making personal health a priority

Bhargava is not alone. Many mortgage brokers put their health on the back burner, often due to the high-stress nature of the job.

Stress is common among Australians in general, and the recent interest rate hikes have made it worse. A recent survey found that 49% of Australians experienced heightened stress and anxiety, and 29% reported mental health issues or sleeplessness.

Other impacts of the interest rate hikes included poor diet (19%), poor physical health (16%), weight gain (13%), and decreased performance at work (9%).

Australians also generally have low trust levels in their banks, and mortgage brokers are often caught in the middle.

Brokers are the intermediaries who connect borrowers with banks, and they often deal with the frustration of these stressed-out clients.

Bhargava pointed to recent situations where clients, nervous and panicking about rising rates, had shouted on the phone.

“Your own heartrate jumps from one to 100 as you are trying to calm others down while being yelled at. It’s stressful, and over time, it can have a real impact on your health.

“In those situations, I now think, why am I stressed? Am I absorbing their strong feelings and making them my own?”

Since her incident, Bhargava has learned to prioritise her health and wellbeing. She makes sure to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. She also takes breaks throughout the day to de-stress and unwind.

“I've been trying to schedule it recently,” she said. “If I see a potentially stressful situation coming up, I make sure I block out time to go on a 40-minute walk.”

“It's been a game changer for me personally. A change of scenery and a different action helps distract me from those negative thoughts and put things into perspective.”

Bhargava encouraged other mortgage brokers to make their health a priority.

“While it's not going to happen overnight, each action you take towards self-care will pay dividends later on,” she said. “The more you do it, the easier it will become and before you know it, it's part of your routine."

Finding success in balance

Another problem, according to Bhargava, is that the mortgage broking industry itself invites stress.

While broking is “extremely rewarding” as you help people achieve their property dreams and create wealth, Bhargava said the industry’s structure was geared towards continuous expansion.

“Brokers are a proactive bunch constantly looking for new ways to provide value, be more efficient, and grow their books. We strive to write our first $100 million, and then it’s $500 million and then it’s a billion,” Bhargava said.

“These professional goals are admirable and important to business building. However, we need to ensure that doesn’t come at the expense of our mental and physical health.”

Bhargava said when evaluating success, it was crucial to go in with the “goal of finding balance between our work and personal lives”.

“What is the point of a record year if you’re not going to be alive tomorrow?”

Removing the stigma

Perhaps the key issue, not just in mortgage broking but in workplaces across Australia, is the stigma attached to talking about our vulnerable selves.

There are countless days dedicated to removing the shame around health in the workplace. However, Bhargava questioned how much it broke through into positive action.

“Each day we are wearing a ribbon or a daffodil or something else to recognise a particular issue that some of us go through," Bhargava said.

For mental health alone, there is World Mental Health Day as part of the Mental Health Month. There is Liptember to recognise women’s mental health and Movember for men’s health issues.

“We have Head Space Day, Wear White at Work Day, and Odd Socks Day. We embrace it and then move on without reflecting upon ourselves,” Bhargava said.

“How many people ask R U OK the day after? How many people ask if they themselves are okay? We become apathetic to our own conditions and health, let alone other peoples."

Bhargava said that only when tragedy struck and the “veil is removed” do people reflect.

“The mortgage industry is built on strong relationships,” Bhargava said. “It’s time to be vulnerable with our colleagues and have open conversations about our struggles. We are all human, not machines meant for work, and we would all be better off in an open environment.” 

“But above all, be vulnerable with yourself and don’t ignore what your body and mind is telling you.”

Do you think brokers pay enough attention to their physical and mental health? Comment below

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