My husband and I (like most of my millennial financial planning clients) currently spend more money a year going to the gym then it costs to see a financial adviser (combined we pay nearly $7,000 p.a.).

Yet remember the 80s when gyms were a tin sheds with cement floors. It wasn’t an essential part of your budget or mainstream.

The fitness industry makeover came because they got much better at client experience and education.

For instance my gym FS8, has a welcome pack for members, builds a community through social media and in-person meetups, run challenges to encourage new members to join and re-engage old members, and celebrate client milestones (like reaching 100 classes).

Likewise, the industry has done a better job at education the public about the benefits of exercise with social media influencers (love them or hate them), health podcasts, reality TV shows, and employer sponsored fitness passports.

Lowering advice fees won’t make more people get advice. If we want more Australians to get financial advice we need to borrow lessons from the fitness industry.

We need to look at the advice experience and education. Things like:

  • Podcasts to showcase the benefits of financial advice.
  • Measuring progress: benchmark happiness/stress about money, how tracking towards financial independence, savings as per cent of income.
  • Community building (Facebook groups, Zoom or in person); Financial Book club; Weekly live events (i.e. Friday Wine Down, Tight Arse Tuesday (share savings tips), Wise Wednesday (share investment tips), Footy Tipping).
  • Celebrate milestones and results
  • Run different challenges e.g. mediation, no takeaway, investment (like the ASX share game)
  • Engage employers to run wealth workshops
  • Social media: the reason social media works is that it breeds familiarly and helps with that know, like and trust factor (that’s why the influencing industry exists).

Additionally, sometimes renaming things can show the value they provide, like thinking of a budget as a “savings accelerator”, the Statement of Advice as the “game plan”, and client review meetings as “momentum sessions”.

I know there is a lot of hope that the Quality of Advice Review will make it cheaper for Australians to get advice and that as a result more Australians will get advice, but many advisers take the majority (or at least) part of their advice fee from superannuation and/or insurance commission.

It’s not coming from people’s cashflow. Most Australians couldn’t tell you how much is in their super and we saw millions withdrawn during the early access rules during the pandemic.

I know cost is not the issue. People are happy to pay for things they value and for experience. If we really want to see more Australians get advice then the answer isn’t making it more affordable. The answer is changing the advice experience and better education.