Close to one in three Australians are stressed about money. But affordable financial advice is available, and it can make a valuable difference to our financial wellbeing.
As the coronavirus pandemic sees more Australians face cuts to their jobs and income, financial stress is on the rise. It makes professional financial advice more important than ever, and what many people may not realise is that their super fund is a trusted source of accessible, affordable advice.
Anne Fuchs, Head of Advice and Retirement at Sunsuper, explains: “For around one in three Australians, their superannuation is one of their biggest assets. But their super fund is also a really great place to get simple advice.”
Most super funds offer a free or low cost advice service that can be accessed either over the phone, or via online tools such as calculators designed to help members manage their money.
Employers have a role to play
While we can all benefit from quality financial advice, the advantages don’t just flow to individuals.
Fuchs believes there is a strong business case for employers to promote the financial advice service offered by super funds. “People perform better when they aren’t worried about money,” she says. “So it makes sense for employers to get more of their staff to take an interest in their own financial security. It’s good for staff, and it can produce better outcomes for the business.”
Breaking through the trust barrier
A report by money watchdog ASIC found that Australians recognise the benefits of financial advice. However, the main stumbling blocks are the cost of advice and a lack of trust in the industry. That’s where advice provided by a super fund can make a difference.
In addition to providing affordable advice, Fuchs says, “Heading to your super fund is a good start from a trust perspective. We have seen a raft of legislative change that makes it essential for all advisers to act in their clients’ best interests, and calling your fund should overcome any trust concerns.”
Overcoming the money talk taboo
Across many communities, money is a taboo topic – something that adds to the challenge of improving financial wellbeing.
“Encouraging people to talk more about money is especially important for Indigenous communities,” notes Fuchs. “This is why Sunsuper has engaged with the First Nations Foundation.
“We are passionate about the financial welfare of all our members, and by connecting with Indigenous communities we can address the money issues they face.”
Already, Sunsuper has played an active role in First Nations’ Big Super Day Out events. And behind the scenes, Sunsuper is working with employers, encouraging them to help their staff use the tools available through super to make better use of their money.
No longer living from pay to pay
Fuchs explains that she often sees a “stark difference” between the financial wellbeing of Sunsuper members who have accessed the fund’s advice service, compared to those who haven’t. “When people get advice around simple things like budgeting and growing rainy day savings, they can start to turn their situation around so they are no longer living from pay to pay.”
Even so, building super savings can be particularly challenging for some, and Indigenous Australians and women are among the most disadvantaged.
“We know that many Indigenous people find themselves in carer roles, and this can make it especially hard to grow savings for the future,” Fuchs says. “The industry as a whole has a responsibility to help solve this problem, and at Sunsuper we will continue to call this out and advocate for change.”