Press Release

Australians optimistic but overwhelmed: New research from Macquarie

Sydney, 06 December 2011

New research from Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group reveals that 65% of Australians are currently feeling positive about their lives, however, only a quarter feel confident and in control when making life or financial decisions.

Despite this, the quest for confidence is strong – with more than half the nation (56%) wanting to be seen as confident decision-makers, particularly amidst uncertainty and hesitation around global markets. 

‘Mood, Life & Money – Macquarie Insights’ is a comprehensive research study and investigation into Australians’ life and financial decision-making, as well as general mood and reasons for it. The study was conducted in September 2011 and involved a large-scale qualitative research program of 12 group discussions across the nation prior to a detailed online survey of 1,600 respondents.

Interestingly, Baby Boomers are the most positive (70%) and Generation X the most stressed (37%) while Generation Y desire a more fulfilling life (57%). Men and women are both feeling equally positive about life, although men are slightly more stressed than women (36% versus 28%).

Generation Y has very low confidence in life and financial decision-making (16%), with Baby Boomers displaying the highest levels of decision-making confidence (34%) – especially when they write down their plans for the future (42%) and discuss them with their family (40%).

While the mood of the nation is generally upbeat, Australians also identified areas of their lives that keep them awake at night, including:

  • more than one third of Australians said not having enough money for a rainy day was their biggest concern, especially for Generation X (41%) who also mentioned the safety of their children (40%) was of great concern
  • male Generation Y’s biggest fear is finding time to do the things they want (46%), with Gen Y women saying their biggest fear is housing affordability (60%)
  • having enough for retirement (44%) and decisions the government make (42%) are of paramount concern to Baby Boomers
  • both men and women are most concerned about having enough money for a rainy day, though many more women (45%) express this fear than men (24%).

When asked about life decision-making:

  • three quarters of Australians rely on their spheres of influence (family and/or friends/colleagues etc) for initial discussions – compared to a low 45% who discuss life decisions with experts (including financial advisers, lawyers, accountants or other experts)
  • across a wide range of life’s decisions, Generation X and Y are most confident about making the decision to travel overseas, with men being much more confident than women – while Baby Boomers are most confident about making the decision to write a will
  • men are more confident than women about the decision to either start or sell a business; whereas women are more confident about the decision to get married.

On the topic of confidence in financial decision-making 

  • many Australians lack confidence when making important financial decisions - including the decision to invest, setting up self managed super funds and knowing how best to structure their finances
  • there remains a very strong reliance on Australians using their spheres of influence including family, friends and colleagues (65%) for these decisions
  • it is common for Australians to employ multiple methods to help when making financial and life decisions, with 59% spending time thinking about their decisions, 57% spending a lot of time on the internet researching and 48% reading to help with the decision
  • women typically control the finances in the average Australian home – with 74% of women make or share all of the financial decision-making in Australian households, compared to 69% of men
  • where men and women share financial decision making it is far more common for women to be managing the budget, checking the bank balance and putting spare funds into savings – which suggests women take more responsibility for the day-to-day financial management
  • Those who have sought expert advice are much more confident about making financial decisions than those who haven’t, and are vastly more confident talking about finance (56%) than those who have not sought advice (44%)
  • Yet, only one third of Australians believe talking to an expert will improve their life decision-making confidence.

According to Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group Analytics Research Manager, Gary Lembit, a key takeout from the results of Mood, Life & Money – Macquarie Insights was that money alone might not buy happiness or promote confidence in life. 

“The research clearly reveals that Australians with more substantial assets are found to be more positive about life than those with above average income. Those who plan for the future and are more in control of their finances say they are ‘happily enjoying life’. 

“The Mood, Life & Money – Macquarie Insights exercise has been fascinating and revealed some interesting insights into the attributes and actions of those who, in general, are happier and more confident. There are also some simple lessons that Australians who aren’t feeling as confident can put into action to help them feel more in control of their life, finances and future. ” Mr Lembit added. 

Head of Macquarie Adviser Services, Tony Graham, says confidence is not only a state of mind but also a state of control.

"The research clearly demonstrates that regardless of generation or gender, Australians are far more confident in their life and financial decision-making if they involve financial experts. Conversely, those who rely solely on their families and spheres of influence are not as positive or content.”

Mr Graham added: “The research has shown us that the traditional Australian resolve remains strong, which is a great starting point to address the general feeling of under-confidence when making financial and life decisions.” 

Macquarie prides itself on keeping abreast of and anticipating its clients’ needs in an ever-changing global economy. ‘Mood, Life & Money – Macquarie Insights’ unveils strategic insights that enable Macquarie to continue to provide a high quality of service and products for its retail clients. 


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