Are Australians asking the right people for financial advice?

Are Australians asking the right people for financial advice?

Everyone’s an expert these days. From an Octopus making predictions on the 2014 FIFA World Cup to Dr Phil not even being a trained psychologist, all kinds of so-called professionals are waiting around every corner to help you find a better budget, a better home, a better you.

The thing is, many people that Australians go to for advice – especially on their money – are not necessarily the best option. In fact, research shows nearly 3 million Australians are asking family and friends for detailed guidance on their investments. Are they asking the wrong person?

Who do Aussies ask for financial advice?

Even the smallest decisions can have big repercussions. Something as innocuous as a telco account can leave a black mark on your credit score if unpaid, while a poor attitude to large-scale investment can result in serious financial struggles. It makes sense to seek as much advice as possible, although ASIC research indicates who we go to for this isn’t always an expert.

Friends, family and partners are a common source of financial advice.

For example: When deciding on investments, 26 per cent of Australians used a bank website, while 20 per cent sought advice from their family. Twenty-two per cent use a paid professional adviser, and 18 per cent simply used the financial section of the newspaper – 13 per cent used a free financial counselling service (more here).

When deciding on a credit card, 35 per cent used their bank website, 16 per cent spoke to family or friends, and 13 per cent used a counsellor or advisor (either paid or free).

Bank websites and financial advisors can be an excellent source of information on financial products, but it appears many people prefer to use sources outside of these. Word of mouth, friends and newspapers can be useful for forming an idea of what you want to do financially, but it’s always a good plan to think about getting advice from the professionals.

The limited sphere of advice on personal financial matters

Looking specifically at household finances, Australians tend to be a bit more private. ASIC’s data shows the vast majority of people only discuss this openly with their family – nearly 90 per cent of Australians do this at least.

Who do you discuss your household finances with?

About 30 per cent discuss their personal finances with their friends or family, but only 20 per cent use professional financial advisors – only just above children (16 per cent). That’s not to say that talking to your family about money isn’t important! But a shift to professionals can give Australians guidance they simply cannot receive from family.

Who talks to financial advisors?

There are three main demographics who seek out free financial advice before making big investment decisions: people aged 55 and over, people who own a home, and people on a household income of less than $100,000 per year.

Meanwhile, Australians under 35 are the most likely to go to their bank’s website ahead of making an investment.

Obviously, this covers a pretty wide range of financial products, but the message is clear: We prefer to speak to people we know rather than go to a professional advisor. To a degree, that’s totally fair – there have been cases where advisors operate unlicensed.

But to give yourself the best chance of a great credit history, it’s important to get the right help. A bit of research into financial advisors or a conversation with your bank could go a long way to making sure you get financial products that suit you nicely, setting you up for a strong credit score down the line (check yours here – it’s instant and free).

Francis Church
Francis Church

Francis is Credit Simple's resident content writer and social media guru. He's passionate about saving money, so we pay him 5 cents to go out and fetch the team coffees every morning. Thanks Frankie.

All stories by: Francis Church