A new report by Adviser Ratings estimates that only one in seven, or 14% of Australians receive the benefits of financial advice. Of those “advised Australians”, the vast majority (75%) are over 45 years of age. This is despite the fact that one in two people were worried about their finances and one in four had experienced difficulty sleeping because of financial anxiety, according to a recent survey.
A separate survey found that almost one in three people were feeling financially stressed and that this was having damaging effects on their physical health and their social relationships. The issue is not confined the “poor” and the problem affects all socio-economic groups and ages. A survey by Newgate Research of more than 1500 people conducted in the second half of 2016 found that financial stress affects workers regardless of income – even one in three of those earning more than $120,000 a year were worried about their financial situation, the survey found.
Fig. 1 2.4 Million Australians (13.9%) are advised (percentages represent number advised in each age cohort)
A Clinical psychologist involved in one of the studies, Dr Nicola Gates said “the psychological burden of stress has a physical effect on the body, with lack of sleep and lowered immunity, (also) people often cope with financial stress in ways that can damage their health and relationships”. She added "financial stress is very prevalent and there's a lot of shame and embarrassment around financial stress and as a result people don't really talk about it,"
There is however an obvious solution to this stress and anxiety. That is to seek financial advice. While many people still believe the cost is prohibited, many advisers offer a free initial consultation and general advice can start from just a few hundred dollars. Of course, more complex, in depth advice can be much more expensive, but what you need and what you pay will depend on your individual situation.
Many advisers who have been profiled on Adviser Ratings can confirm that the service they give to their clients offers more than just financial gain. As Colin de la Nougerede, a Platinum rated adviser from WA says:
“Good advisers will provide guidance, education and flexible strategies in terms the client can understand, that can change with their clients’ needs or legislation requirements, in order to achieve their lifestyle and financial goals. Most of all be there in a time of need, confusion or change. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the most difference not just money”.
Advisers will often describe themselves as “coaches” or “guides”, they are there to help people define what is important to them, then help design a plan of how to go about achieving these goals. In the words of another platinum adviser, Gary Windwood-Smith from Sydney offers this about “good advisers”:
“Good advisers don’t just manage client’s investments. It’s not really about the share market and having some sort of special insight into what investment or stock is going to do well in the future. Leave that for investment portfolio managers. Good advisers work with clients to set goals and build plans to achieve these. Often these are lifestyle decisions that involve money”.
Advisers are there to help you get control of your finances – getting this control is the key to reducing anxiety about your finances. Platinum adviser Michael Bishop says “advisers cannot control everything, but they can ensure the client understands what is controllable and what isn’t, so the client is armed to make the best decisions now and in the future”
Having the knowledge of what is and is not achievable at the time and using an expert adviser to help put a plan in place to get to where you want to be will give you reassurance that you are in command of your financial situation. This will naturally breed confidence and diminish anxiety about your financial situation. The value of the resulting physical and emotional well-being achieved by getting to this point cannot be underestimated.
The key is having that financial professional to help. Bouncing ideas off someone who advises for a living makes sense – as does taking advantage of their expert knowledge. Platinum Adviser from Hobart, Alison Greenwood says “a good adviser spends many hours a week understanding the economic and political climate. You cannot provide solid advice unless you understand current rules and regulations that relate to superannuation and investing”.
If you’re stressed and anxious about your finances, you are not alone, but you don’t have to fall into the trap of being embarrassed or ashamed of your situation. Millions of other Australians are as well. The good news is that there is something you can do about it. Is it time for you to take that first step towards getting control of your finances and achieving the feeling of financial security and over all well-being that comes from having a financial expert in your corner?