The headline across mainstream news was surprisingly alarmist – particularly for the ABC – stating on its online news site that we are “hocked to the eyeballs in debt with no obvious way out.”
When this came up on my phone news headlines, I just had to click – the hallmark of an effective headline. But the analysis of our low interest rate environment, and the rise in mortgage defaults started to unfold, I had to admit, I had a real feeling of dread about what’s happening in our economy.
Of course, I was lucky enough to be then able to consult with one of the most senior investors at UBS Asset Management, Anne Anderson, who said that she felt the story was too negative. This immediately made me relieved, and our senior writer Alex Burke includes her comments in this piece.
The majority of Australians reading this article, however, would not have the benefit of being able to speed dial someone like Anne. In fact, with only two in 10 Australians having an adviser, the majority of people would have nobody to call, except perhaps to talk about it at work, or to their friends and neighbours.
Here’s where the problem lies: there is no doubting that there are serious issues in our economy, as evidenced by our debt levels and falling property prices. And there is good reason for concern. But just as important as understanding the problem, is presenting the solution, and this is something that the media tend not to do.
Which leaves it to us, the finance industry – in particular advice, investing and super, to offer ideas and solutions to people. Because a society that is living in fear, and under financial stress, tends to break down pretty quickly. We have already seen massive increases in mental health issues, and domestic violence. These are indicators of a society that is uneven, with a large proportion of people living under circumstances that have made them lose their power, and their ability to make good choices.
I truly live in fear of our economy further deteriorating and more of middle class Australia becoming even more financially stressed. The effect on our family homes, children and general way of life will be disastrous.
So of course I call on you, the excellent financial planners across Australia to create opinions, tips, ideas and counsel to help people get prepared. Simple communications about lowering overheads, saving a buffer and even getting into side hustles to bring more money through the door. It’s the simple advice that people need to get started that is needed. The success of Scott Pape’s Barefoot investor book is evidence of that.
I am happy to publish your tips and knowledge via our consumer websites to help you get the message out. Because if people don’t start preparing for even tougher times ahead, not even a planner will be able to help them – at least not easily. I know that you are under siege with your business model and all the change happening in our industry. I also know that many Australians may never be able to afford your full service.
But everyone can benefit from your knowledge if you spend just a small amount of time writing some simple tips to get people started.
I’ll be raising my efforts even more to get the good word out via NMP Education and our upcoming TV show. But we need your help.
If you’re interested in becoming a contributor and wish to share your views, please reach out to us here.
Until next time,
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