Ask any non-Aussie traveller and they will tell you they’re a friendly, laid back bunch. Though positive on the surface, a new study by Macquarie Banking and Financial Services Group points to the fact that this nationally celebrated “she’ll-be-right”-ism is a clever façade for the sinister truth: They are terminally incapable of making decisions.
The ‘Mood, Life and Money – Macquarie Insights’ study surveyed 1600 people on their fears, decision making, and attitude to life and found that although 65% of Australians felt generally positive about life, only a quarter felt confident making financial and life decisions.
The good news? They’re an aspirational bunch. They want to be knowledgeable. They’re even doing their own research before they take these various plunges. While this is surely pleasing news to autodidacts the world over, unfortunately there’s a catch: it turns out that people who seek expert advice feel more confident about decision-making and talking finance than those who don’t. Crazy, I know.
Head of Macquarie Adviser Services, Tony Graham, said those who sought expert advice reaped the personal benefit.
“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,” Mr Graham said.
Interestingly, Macquarie analytics research manager Gary Lembit said the decision to travel seems to be something that consistently afflicts all sectors of the population. Once in the system the travel bug, much like chicken pox, seems to stay forever.
“When it came to travel it was every age group in the same proportions.
“So the desire to travel starts at the youngest age and continues right through to the oldest,” Mr Lembit said.
He said although Gen X and Y respondents had low decision-making confidence overall, they were “supremely confident” about deciding to travel.
Among the study’s other groundbreaking discoveries were the following insights:
· Baby Boomers and retirees are most confident and experienced with making decisions (35%) and concerned about the government (42%)
· Generation X are disillusioned and find their lives difficult and stressful (37%)
· Generation Y JUST WANT MORE (57%)
Mr Lembit admits that, yes, some of the results are commonsensical – of course with age and experience comes confidence and fulfillment.
“Those who plan for the future and are more in control of their finances say they are ‘happily enjoying life’,” Mr Lembit said.
In all seriousness though, thank goodness we have data that evidences the mid-life crisis. Between 40-44, men stop worrying about their families and regress to a 20’s mindset, scared they “won’t have time to do the things they want to do”. This is the part where we rejoice that fortunately, we’re a country run by matriarchs, where 74% of women partly or fully control household finances.
As far as I’m concerned, stereotypes and wild generalizations become all the more juicy when supported by cold hard stats drawn from a representative sample of the population.
But since these stereotypes don’t seem to have changed much over the last twenty years, this begs the question: what if it’s not an age thing, but rather a generational thing?
My mother has always explained my brother’s tight-fisted demeanour by reference to the very standard and poor state of family finances during his childhood. While the days of squeezing every penny have now passed, my brother evidently never learned to unclench. So the next question is, are these attitudes and behaviours imprinted from childhood?
Will Gen Y always be impossible-to-satisfy brats? Are Gen X destined to a lifetime of grungy misanthropy?
We may not know the answers to these or many other questions for years to come. In the meantime we can at least take solace in the fact that most of us are happy at the moment, and if you’re not, apparently you should be in a few years time. And failing that, well – she’ll be right.