Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 344

The link between financial and mental health

It may seem obvious that financial stress would have a direct impact on people’s health and happiness. However, new research from Fidelity International suggests that Australians are not making the link between financial health and our overall wellbeing.

Fidelity’s survey of over 2,000 Australians shows almost half of us worry about money at least weekly, with one in four worrying at least daily. And having money doesn’t necessarily make people immune from anxiety. More than a third of Australians with more than $1 million of assets to invest still worry at least monthly.

What are Australians worrying about?

We have enjoyed more than 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth and Australia has not experienced a recession since 1991. Our superannuation system is the envy of many parts of the world and most people have now been accumulating savings to fund retirement since the Superannuation Guarantee started in 1991, a healthy last 28 years ago.

Despite this, less than one in five Australians rate their financial wellbeing as high or very high. At a time when the economic outlook is starting to look more uncertain, only one in five believe they would be financially stable if they were to lose their job tomorrow, with almost three quarters saying they could only manage for a short period or not at all.

Retirement is also weighing on people’s minds. More than half of Australians feel they are not on track financially to have a retirement they are happy with. Around 50% worry they might not be able to live where they want to in their golden years and a similar number expect to have to keep working past retirement age to fund their retirement.

The adverse impacts are not only financial

Perhaps most surprising is the extent to which these sorts of financial issues affect all facets of our lives. More than half of Australians report that their mental health has been adversely impacted by financial issues, while others say their relationships and physical health have suffered.

The benefits of seeking financial advice

It’s not all bad news. The survey suggests that the picture is improved for people who seek help with their finances. While 56% worry about money at least monthly, that number jumps to seven in 10 for those who do not receive financial advice.

Australians receiving financial advice are twice as likely to rate their level of financial wellbeing as high or very high, compared to those who are not receiving advice. And when asked how prepared they feel for retirement, 64% of people who are advised say they are either ‘very’ or ‘reasonably’ prepared, compared to just 26% of unadvised people.

Perhaps the most compelling finding was in relation to people’s overall wellbeing, 50% of Australians receiving financial advice say their mental health has improved as a result of advice, while 38% reported their family life is better.

So with so many people reporting the benefits of financial advice, why aren’t more people accessing it? Last year’s Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which revealed practices that fell well short of the community’s expectations, could be one reason. However, the survey shows it isn’t the main deterrent.

A recurring theme among those who have never sought advice is they don’t believe they can afford it or they don’t believe their circumstances justify the need. And when people do seek advice, it is usually around a life event or milestone. Nearly a third of people first sought financial advice because they were approaching retirement, followed by a property purchase.

Don’t wait for the financial trigger

The problem with this that by waiting for a trigger such as retirement to seek help, we may not be giving ourselves the best chance of being in control of our futures. It is only by starting the discussion early and making a plan that we will have control over when we retire, how much we will retire with and what our lives will look like after we retire.

And this is backed up by our survey. While around 26% of people overall say they are not prepared at all for retirement, that number drops to just 10% for those who are advised. And those people who have an adviser also about the positives for their overall quality of life. These include being able to live their desired lifestyle, not having to worry about money and improved mental health.

While much of the discussion around the benefits of financial advice focuses on the amount of assets we have or the financial returns that can be achieved, our research demonstrates the wider benefits and peace of mind it can provide. People who seek advice often leave with a much stronger sense of wellbeing and control over their future and that’s something we can all benefit from.

 

Alva Devoy is Managing Director, Australia at Fidelity International, a sponsor of Firstlinks. This document is issued by FIL Responsible Entity (Australia) Limited ABN 33 148 059 009, AFSL 409340 (‘Fidelity Australia’), a member of the FIL Limited group of companies commonly known as Fidelity International. This document is intended as general information only. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available on our website www.fidelity.com.au.

For more articles and papers from Fidelity, please click here.

© 2019 FIL Responsible Entity (Australia) Limited. Fidelity, Fidelity International and the Fidelity International logo and F symbol are trademarks of FIL Limited. FD18634.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Lucy Brogden on the link between mental and financial health

What do investors value in financial advice?

Ensure your children are insured

banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

The 20 Commandments of Wealth for retirees

To mark his 80th, we publish a Noel classic plus his timeless commandments for retiree wealth, based on decades of advising clients, writing bestsellers and reaching millions of people every week.

Are you caught in the ‘retirement trap’?

Our retirement savings system is supposed to encourage financial independence but there is a ‘Retirement Trap’ due to the reduction of age pension entitlements as assets and income rise.

The power of letting winners run

Handling extreme winners is a complex task. Conventional wisdom such as “you never go broke taking a profit” often leaves a lot of money on the table as strong growth stocks continue to run.

Tony Togher on why cash isn’t just cash

An active manager of cash and fixed interest funds can achieve higher returns than the cash rate through a selection of other securities while managing both liquidity and income for clients.

'OK Boomer' responses keep on coming

Our sincere thanks for the amazing personal stories of how wealth was built by hard work or where some were not as fortunate. Another 600 readers have taken part in the survey since the last update.

NAB hybrid: one says buy, one says sell, you decide

Differences of opinion make a market, and hybrid specialists disagree on the likelihood that NAB will call one of its hybrids early. It makes a major difference to the expected return on NABHA.

Latest Updates

Should your equity manager hold lots of cash?

An investment with any fund manager should be part of an asset allocation decision, but what happens when your equity manager decides to do a major switch to cash? It messes up your plan.

Superannuation

The moral hazard of a national super fund

If billions of dollars of retirement savings were lost by a government agency in a national super scheme, the cost and risk would be passed back to the government and ‘caveat emptor’ would be history.

Investment strategies

Dispelling the disruption myth

We tend to call any change a 'disruption', but the vast majority of so-called disruptive technologies are variations on a theme. Many innovations are really high-risk, low-probability investments.

Compliance

Watch your SMSF’s annual return this year

The best way to preserve your SMSF’s favoured status is to make sure the fund’s annual return reaches the ATO on time. There are new rules this year that every SMSF trustee should know.

SMSF strategies

SMSFs have major role but not for everyone

Arguments between segments of the super industry do not foster public confidence. SMSFs are suitable for many who seek control of their own financial destiny, but it's not a competition. 

Sponsors

Alliances