What future financial advice clients are looking for

03 March 2021

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

In their new report The Advisable Australian, Netwealth surveyed over 1000 Australians in late 2020 to reveal insights on the Australians most likely to have a need for financial advice in the near future. Explore what their findings can tell us about this untapped demand for financial planning.

Who are ‘Advisable Australians’?

In developing their Advisable Australian report and insights, Netwealth have used only one age constraint. They assume that only people over the age of 30 have reached a point where they have needs that could be met by financial advice.

However, the many assumptions that we might expect to point to an individual or household’s propensity to seek advice are just some of the considerations Netwealth have taken into account. As well as life stage, assets and income, the Advisable Australian assessment also factors in things like how clear a person is on their financial goals and how well they understand the role of a financial planner in helping them reach those goals.

Using these many inputs, the Netwealth research, carried out by CoreData, has arrived at a measure of Advice Propensity to determine how likely an individual is to seek out expert financial advice. Based on their findings from over 1,000 survey responses, they have calculated that at least two million Australians are likely to be open to getting financial advice and over two thirds (68%) of them are expecting to do so in the next three years.

What sort of advice are they seeking?

This is a significant pipeline of potential new clients. For financial planners looking to develop their services to align to new demand, it’s helpful to know what might be motivating Advisable Australians to seek advice.

It probably comes as no surprise to learn that specific life events or financial goals are important triggers that can drive Advisable Australians to consider starting their advice journey. What is perhaps more interesting is the mismatch between the stated goals of Australians with a higher Advice Propensity and the areas where they think a financial planner can help them.

The top three financial goals for those most likely to seek advice are paying off a mortgage or debt (40.4%), building and diversifying their investment portfolio (37.2%) and buying a home (27.3%). Retirement savings (17.8%) are a lower priority in comparison. When we look at their expectations of how a financial planner can help them with their finances, the responses don’t quite match up. They certainly see financial advice as key to their investment goals, with 63.5% likely to seek advice to ensure their wealth is invested wisely. And more than half of this group (51.4%) expect financial planners to assist them in making sure they have enough saved for retirement. But only 21.6% are likely to seek expert advice to plan for buying a property.

What’s stopping Advisable Australians from working with a financial planner?

This lack of alignment between the advice expectations of Advisable Australians and their financial priorities doesn’t help when it comes to overcoming obstacles that can prevent them from working with a financial planner. As the report says “this is a concern, yet an opportunity for advice firms and for the industry.” If financial planners are able to more effectively communicate the full range of advice services to their prospects, this could make a positive difference to their engagement with this unadvised cohort.

The other objections to advice revealed by the Netwealth report are very much in line with findings from the 2020 Money & Life Tracker Survey of 2000 Australians. Of the 4 in 5 respondents to this survey who have not engaged a financial planner, a third think they’re capable of a DIY approach to their finances, with help from friends, family and online research. 20% think they don’t have enough assets or wealth to engage a financial planner. This tallies with the reasons given by Advisable Australians for not using professional financial advice. Not having enough wealth or assets was the most common response (48.7%) followed by affordability issues (34.4%) and feeling confident in managing their own financial affairs (32.2%).

But the Netwealth survey also identifies two other areas that are causing hesitation for Australians who are otherwise advice-ready. One is trust and the other is knowing where to start. Over half (51.8%) said they were more likely to go looking for advice if they found a financial adviser they could trust and almost a third (29.6%) would start receiving advice sooner if they knew how to go about it.

These responses reveal a further area of education and communication for our profession to focus on – helping people understand the advice process and overcoming a suspicion or belief that financial planners aren’t acting in their best interest. Pointing out reforms that have embedded best interest in the profession’s codes of ethics and practice is a start. On page 44 of the report, Netwealth offer advice on building trust with this audience. They point out the value of continuing to use face-to-face meetings, where possible, particularly for their initial session with a client. 73% of Advisable Australians would prefer their advice journey to begin with a face-to-face meeting.

How could I go about engaging with this cohort?

The Advisable Australian report also reveals that digital capabilities are seen as an important part of a positive advice experience and can also contribute to building trust among clients. The report goes on to examine preferences for different types of technology in financial advice. For planners looking to explore using new technology in the advice process, it’s worth considering the survey findings in section five of the report on Technology Adoption.

While mobile apps and social media channels financial advice may be starting to gain traction with this audience, email is still the preferred digital communication channel, regardless of how comfortable people are with a wider range of technologies. So rather than pursuing a multi-channel digital communication approach, financial planners who make better use of email for updates, news and insights might have more success in engaging with Advisable Australians, both as clients and as prospects.

To download The Advisable Australian report from Netwealth, visit