I recently had the opportunity to travel to the United Kingdom, attending a Business Leadership Course at Cambridge University which was a fabulous experience.
Whilst travelling around England and Wales, it struck me that there were many things happening there that we don’t seem to let happen here anymore. And a lot of them related to things that we seem to have assumed people can’t think about for themselves anymore.
Like footpaths. Many places in England and Wales have no footpaths or tiny footpaths, or the footpaths are cracked or cobbled. It can make it difficult to walk around, you need to watch out for cars (or in Cambridge – bicycles), you need to watch your step, and you need to be a bit careful.
But you know what? People weren’t tripping over everywhere, or getting hit by cars or bikes every minute. They were being sensible, watching their step, and watching out for vehicles.
In Australia it seems that if there is a crack in the footpath, there are “witches hats” placed around it so you don’t trip. If there is no footpath, people aren’t allowed to walk there, or sometimes they expect the cars to just stop for them – they don’t even look.
Another thing I noticed was road works. In Australia, they will block off half a road to work on a footpath. Or they will slow you down to 40 kilometres an hour for 3 kilometres to work on 20 metres of road off to the side. In England they just blocked off the immediate area (not 500 metres or a kilometre or more around it) and slowed you down slightly if they were on a road, say a reduction of 10 miles per hour. And I didn’t see cars ploughing into the road workers, the cars were being respectful. I even saw some road workers looking for cars before they stepped onto the road.
Is a similar thing happening in financial services in Australia? Are people become so used to everything being so controlled for them that they don’t take responsibility for themselves anymore?
- We hear stories of people being ripped off by con-men who are unlicensed and unregistered. Shouldn’t the consumer check this?
- People being offered no-risk and high returns and assuming that is ok. Shouldn’t they have a basic knowledge of some things being too good to be true?
- People assuming that if the adviser they see works for a large company they will automatically be high quality. Shouldn’t they check out their adviser like they do their Doctor or Mechanic?
- If something is advertised on the television it is taken as automatically true. Surely “someone” wouldn’t let that happen if it weren’t true, right?
- And if the government says 9.5% of super contributions is compulsory then that will be enough. They don’t want to have to think about things like living comfortably 20 years in the future.
People are forgetting to do their due diligence checks, trust their instincts and use common sense. They will spend more time researching a one-off purchase (like a thermomix) than they will checking how they are going to be able to afford to retire one day. They will trust the screen or ad selling insurance products at the supermarket but they won’t research the differences between general and personal insurance.
Whilst it would be nice to think that everything is so well controlled in Australia that you can trust the TV, the Government, a bank, or your default options to provide for you in the best possible way – this is not now and never will be the case.
How do we make people take responsibility for themselves again?
How do we make them see the difference between junk, lies, rubbish and quality advice?
How do we make people responsible for walking on that cracked footpath (or take control of their own finances and future) themselves?
Authorised Representative of Aon Hewitt Financial Advice Limited
Authorised Representative No. 290343
Aon Hewitt Financial Advice ABN 13 091 225 642 AFSL No. 239183
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