As part of the FinFuture White Paper project consumer research was commissioned to establish a better understanding of the challenges and concerns Australian's had with the current state of financial services. The research included focus groups and a consumer survey. Some highlights of the report are shown below, with the full report available for download.
- Almost 1 in 3 Australians are dissatisfied with their financial situation. The most commonly cited barrier to improving their financial situation was a lack of trust in financial institutions and advisors.
- This trust deficit is unsurprising given that the majority of Australians (54%) have had an issue with financial service providers in the last five years. The estimated cost of these issues (in the last 5 years alone) to Australian households is $201 billion.
- Aside from this lack of trust, key barriers include being overwhelmed by finances and not having the necessary skills.
- Most Australians (77%) have regrets with regards to their finances, with the top three of these regrets being related to behaviours (e.g. not saving, investing or budgeting), while the fourth most common regret was ‘not learning more about finances and money’.
- The study found, in line with other research, that unexpected life events often negatively impact finances and that most Australians are not prepared to weather such shocks. Indeed, 1 in 5 Australians have less than $1,000 in savings and 1 in 2 have less than $10,000.
In March 2019, academics at the University of Melbourne commissioned the independent research agency Forethought Research to help understand how Australians feel about their finances. The study that was designed as a result comprised two phases, as outlined below. This design was informed by an extensive list of existing consumer research regarding the personal finances of Australians.
Phase One: Qualitative Research
- Explore consumer experiences and the language used in relation to financial wellbeing to inform questionnaire development.
- Specifically, examine the obstacles and challenges to improving financial wellbeing and any financial regrets consumers may have.
- 2 x 90-minute focus groups held in Melbourne on the 9th and 10th of April 2019. A total of 15 people participated in the two focus groups.
- Due to the potential sensitivity of the topics discussed, the groups were recruited so that people of similarly low income and experience with financial stress formed one group and those in a more middle class, less financially stressed situation formed the second group.
Phase Two: Quantitative Research
- Identify the most prevalent financial pain points and issues as well as the burden of these issues (prevalence and severity)
- Understand obstacles/challenges to improving financial health and well-being
- Understand regrets consumers have regarding finances
- Identify and understand differences by key sub-groups, such as age, income, wealth and gender.
- 12-minute survey in field from Monday 29th April to Friday 3rd May 2019. Sample size: 1,029.
- To ensure national representativeness, Forethought and their fieldhouse monitored the sample throughout fieldwork to ensure that comparable allocations for ABS distributions of age, gender and location were captured. No weightings were required to achieve these allocations