According to the latest Superannuation and Wealth in Australia report from Roy Morgan, Australians are most satisfied (71.3 per cent) with their super fund if they acquire it through an independent financial adviser or planner and least satisfied (56.6 per cent) with funds that they came to from their employer.
Further, satisfaction with funds acquired through an independent financial adviser has increased by 5.6 per cent on the September 2016 level, while employer-introduced funds have fallen by 0.2 per cent.
Accountant-introduced funds are the second-most satisfying (68.8 per cent), followed by financial planners and advisers that work for financial institutions (68.4 per cent). Australians who came by their super fund directly through a financial institution were 64.8 per cent satisfied.
To Roy Morgan industry communications director, Norman Morris, these results are something the financial services industry needs to pay careful attention and “respond quickly” to.
He said: “Our research shows those who seek independent professional advice are much more satisfied with the performance of their superannuation. However, it seems confusion and mistrust cause many people to avoid seeking financial advice at all.
“This represents a major opportunity for financial advisers to find new ways to engage with the Australian public, especially younger audiences. If the advisers can find ways to overcome issues of trust and independence there is a huge potential market for their advice.”
Continuing, Mr Norris said improving the accessibility of financial advice needs to be a “key focus for the industry”. He said that by doing so, the sector could not only improve investment returns but also “build wealth and grow member satisfaction”.
But not many Australians trust planners
Roy Morgan said trust is “in short supply” and argued that financial planners need to work to gain a higher level of trust.
Trust in financial planners, in terms of honesty and ethics has fallen by 2 per cent this year, with just 25 per cent of respondents saying their trust in financial planners is high or very high.
However, that figure has remained fairly steady since 2009, with peaks of 28 per cent in 2011 and 2014 and a fall in 2015 to 24 per cent.
Roy Morgan suggested that the numbers reflect an industry plagued by “ongoing confusion” and called on planners and advisers to address it.
“Many of the major licensee groups, which are owned by one of the major financial planning groups but branded differently to their parent, continue to be largely viewed as independent by consumers despite their ownership,” a Roy Morgan spokesperson said.
“It is interesting to note that even when a planner came from a major fund manager there was often confusion over the issue of independence, with around a quarter of members considering them to be independent.
“Advisers showing preference for their own company’s products adds to the confusion, with 74.9 per cent of advisers across all major financial planning groups selling their own products. This is a slight drop from the previous 12 months, but signifies an ongoing potential cause of mistrust with the industry.”