Persistent barriers preventing access to advice: ASIC

High cost, distrust of financial advisers and difficulty of engaging with the industry are some of the notable barriers preventing consumers from getting financial advice, new ASIC research reveals.

ASIC’s Report 627, Financial advice: What consumers really think, divided survey participants into four groups:

  • people who received financial advice in the past 12 months (Group A);
  • people who intended to get financial advice in the next 12 months (Group B);
  • people who had considered getting financial advice in the past 12 months but had not gone ahead (Group C), and;
  • people who did not fall into any of the aforementioned groups.

Barriers preventing consumer access to advice

The most commonly cited reason for not seeking advice was the perception that financial advice is too expensive, with 35 per cent of all participants (excluding Group A) citing it as a barrier.

This was followed by participants saying their financial circumstances are too small, followed by 26 per cent saying they like to manage their finances themselves and 19 per cent who say they don’t trust financial advisers.

Another key finding from ASIC was that not getting around to seeking advice was a major barrier for Group B and Group C, with 24 per cent of Group B and 38 per cent of Group C citing it as a factor.

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“Barriers to getting financial advice included cost, distrust of financial advisers and difficulty of engaging with the industry,” ASIC said.

“These three barriers did not operate independently – rather, distrust of financial advisers influenced consumer perceptions of the cost of advice and how difficult it is to engage with the industry.

“Other barriers included disengagement, feeling vulnerable at the thought of seeing a financial adviser, not wanting to make lifestyle changes, and perceptions of financial advice as being risky or ‘only for wealthy people’.”

What consumers look for in an adviser

The ASIC report found that the top three attributes that online survey participants said they looked for or would look for when selecting a financial adviser were experience, reputation and the ability to talk to customers in a way they can understand.

“Participants acknowledged the difficulties that they had faced or would face when assessing the quality of a financial adviser and identified a range of factors they thought were important,” ASIC said.

“For example, many participants did not feel equipped to judge the expertise of a financial adviser and instead relied heavily on factors that could be easily observed, such as the interpersonal skills of the adviser.”

The next most-cited attributes included the ability to take the time to understand them and their goals, the adviser providing their advice at a low cost and their qualifications.

Only 13 per cent of Group A participants considered low cost to be important when looking for an adviser.

What consumers want financial advice on

The most common topics that survey participants said they had either received, or were interested in receiving financial advice on, were investments (e.g. shares, managed funds), retirement income planning and growing their superannuation, according to ASIC.

This was closely followed by budgeting or cash flow management, aged care planning and risk protection.

“Participants in the group discussions and interviews identified a range of benefits to getting financial advice, such as achieving their financial goals and improving their financial knowledge,” ASIC said.

The quantitative and qualitative research was conducted by WheretoResearch, and consisted of:

  • four 90-minute group discussions with seven to eight participants in each group and 34 one-hour in-depth interviews (qualitative research); and
  • an 18-minute online survey completed by 2,545 participants (quantitative research).
Persistent barriers preventing access to advice: ASIC
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Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is a deputy editor at Momentum Media, focusing mainly on banking, wealth management and financial services. He has also written for Public Accountant, Accountants Daily and The CEO Magazine.

You can contact him on [email protected].

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