Australians rank access to financial products and investment ideas well above other goals-based factors as reasons for seeking out advice, a new research report commissioned by ASIC measuring consumer attitudes to advice, shows.

When asked which topics have motivated people to receive advice for, the highest portion of consumers surveyed (45 per cent) specified investments – shares and managed funds – above all other topics.

Further, financial advisers’ expertise in financial matters and ability to recommend products they might not otherwise be able to find or have access to were rated by most consumers surveyed as reasons why people use financial advisers.

The survey, commissioned by ASIC and conducted during a two-month period in early 2018 by Melbourne-based researcher, Whereto Research, was the product of an 18 minute online survey completed by 2545 consumers and four 90-minute group discussions with seven to eight participants in each group and 34 one-hour in-depth interviews. ASIC’s subsequent report entitled Financial advice: What consumers really think, was released publicly on Monday.

The qualitative research component involved interviewing groups of Australians in four categories: 1. had recently received financial advice, 2. intended to get financial advice in the near future, 3. had recently considered getting financial advice but had not gone ahead, and 4. did not fall into any of the above groups.

The results where benchmarked against a weighted average representing “all Australians” based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

Seventy-nine percent and 75 per cent of the respondents to the online survey ranked financial advisers’ expertise in financial matters and access to products as the top reasons they use financial advisers.

Achieving goals and peace of mind about the future were the lowest ranked statements relating to why consumers seek financial advisers, the survey showed.

While respondents to the online survey ranked investment advice and product access high on their list for reasons to seek advice, the qualitative discussions revealed there were goals-based motivations behind their reasons for seeking out advice, however the highest ranking motivations still related specifically to financial outcomes rather than emotional outcomes such as feeling more empowered or less anxious.

Maximising their financial circumstances and achieving a specific financial goal were the top rated benefits from getting financial advice, according to the qualitative component of the survey.

One of the other significant takeaways from the ASIC commissioned survey was the increasing comfort consumers have with so-called “robo” or digital advice despite the technology’s limited presence in the local market.

While the online survey found a mere 1 per cent of consumers had used digital advice, 19 per cent of all participants said they were open to using it; 37 per cent of the category of people who had recently thought about getting advice but had not gone ahead said they were open to using digital advice.

Smith is the editor of Professional Planner’s print and digital platforms. He is an experienced financial journalist, editor and multimedia producer who has held senior editorial positions both in mainstream press and trade media.
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