Attitude and self-confidence is the key

24 January 2018

Young businesswoman smiling with self-confidence in city street


The Financial Planning Research Journal (FPRJ) aims to publish original, scholarly peer reviewed articles from a wide variety of personal finance and investment disciplines.

A national study of consumers has unlocked some of the key drivers that determine whether consumers use a planner or not, and what planners can do to better influence consumers to use their professional services.

According to a national study of consumers (Financial Planning Research Journal – Volume 3, issue 2, 2017) that sought to understand the key drivers that influenced their decision to use a professional to assist with saving for retirement, it was discovered that a person’s attitude and self-efficacy determines whether or not they’ll use a financial planner.

Consequently, financial planners seeking to engage or influence people to use their services, are wise to consider the marketing and communication campaigns they use to positively influence their current and future clients.

Self-efficacy is based on a person’s belief that they are able to handle a specific task. It is task or subject matter specific. For example, a person could have a high degree of self-efficacy associated with preparing a large dinner party, climbing a mountain or running a marathon, and a low sense of self-efficacy regarding financial planning or saving for retirement.

A positive or negative attitude or a high or low degree of self-efficacy is not demographically determined. Furthermore, low self-efficacy can be changed by:

  1. Personal experience that demonstrates to the individual that they are capable (most effective means for change);
  2. Being told by another person that they do, in fact, have the skill/ability to undertake the activity in question (less effective); and
  3. Observing someone else have a positive experience of the activity (least effective).

Understanding current and potential client needs, wants, pain points and challenges regarding financial planning through client journey mapping, interviews or discussion, is ideal.

In lieu of insights from these approaches, a first step could be to de-mystify financial planners and retirement planning by creating easy pathways for consumers to experience these services. For example, online tutorials, exercises or apps that simply and easily explain financial planning at low or no cost is minimal risk to the consumer, and potentially starts a conversation that can be pursued by the planner.

A unique attribute of saving for retirement is that it involves making a decision about purchasing saving or investment products and services in the present, the benefits of which will only be realised in the distant future.

In making that decision, a person must potentially choose to forego purchasing other goods or services that will provide more immediate rewards, such as a holiday, a new car or household renovations. Building this type of experience into educational tools, either online or in an app, develops the knowledge of future clients prior to a first consultation.

This research on the importance and role of consumer attitudes and self-efficacy regarding the use of financial planners to assist with saving for retirement is valuable because saving for retirement is a significant national and international issue.

How retirees pay for their living and health costs is one of the key issues facing governments, as an ageing population will increasingly be comprised of people who are no longer working. It is costly for governments to provide aged pensions and heavily subsidised health care services, as the ratio of working to non-working people becomes increasingly disproportionate.

For governments and financial planners, the key findings and critical outcomes of this research is that self-confidence and attitudes towards savings, have been found to be the key drivers for a consumer to save for retirement using the services of a qualified professional and qualified planner.


Dr Catherine Rickwood is the founder and chief executive officer of the Three Sisters Group; Professor Lesley White is from Charles Sturt University; Professor Lester Johnson is from Swinburne University; and Professor Steve Worthington is from Swinburne University.

This report was published in the Financial Planning Research Journal (Vol. 3, Issue 2, 2017). To read the report in full, go to:

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