Fidelity's Alva Devoy

Almost half of consumers have become more concerned about their financial well-being since the start of the pandemic, with young people carrying the most weight of concern according to fund manager Fidelity.

For those under advice, however, the financial burden and associated mental stress are both lessened according to the ‘Pulse’ study, which was split almost evenly between advised and non-advised consumers.

While 48 per cent of Australians say there financial worries have increased, 28 per cent admit that their financial well-being has taken a hit, says Fidelity managing director, Alva Devoy.

“You can see the quantum effect of Covid-19 coming through these numbers.”

The spectrum of concern skews young, Devoy reveals.

“68.5 per cent of under 30s say their worries about money have increased,” she says. “That’s more than double that of those aged 60 and above, who sit at around 30 per cent.”

A lot of the concern is linked to career security during the pandemic, Devoy reckons, with almost 30 per cent now worried they may lose their job.

“That’s quite a sensitive marker,” she says, noting the anxiety that is associated with job security and the “flow on effects on consumer sentiment and behaviour”.

Underscoring the importance of advice, Devoy says that the data indicates people’s worries fall when they have help.

“Advice impacts all aspects of people’s well-being,” she says. “Advised people have better physical health but it’s where the mental health comes in that we continue to see greater benefits.”

Over double the amount of advised consumers felt they were financially prepared compared to those not under advice, she adds. “That’s quite a stark outcome.”

According to Devoy’s colleague, Anthony Doyle, the pandemic’s effect on the Australian economy is far reaching.

“We are in a recession, there’s no doubt about that,” he says.

Doyle, who is a Cross Asset Investment Specialist at the fund manager, says consumer spending will be one of the biggest impediments to a domestic economic revival. Over 75 per cent, he said, intended to reduce their consumer spending during the next 12 months.

“Australians are finding it tough,” he said, noting that more than a quarter of respondents to the survey were thinking about accessing their superannuation in the next 12 months.

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning. Contact at tahn.sharpe@conexusfinancial.com.au
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