Lesson type: Think like an investor

Are you treating your finances like a toothache?

A quick quiz: do Australians say the following statements about seeing the dentist, or consulting a financial planner?

  • “Everything’s okay, I don’t need to go.”
  • “That’s just going to be too expensive.”
  • “My situation isn’t complex, I don’t need any help.”

The answer is both. Two individual reports show that Australians’ behaviour towards seeking financial advice and going to the dentist are very similar.

An Investment Trends study showed that respondents perceive they don’t need financial advice (56 per cent), don’t have enough money to make it worthwhile (39 per cent) or think it would cost too much money if they did seek advice (21 per cent).

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported that 44.9 per cent of Australians aged 25-44 didn’t go to the dentist due to the cost, and most of the 63.5 per cent of Australians aged 18-44 with ‘unfavourable’ visiting patterns to dentists tended to seek help only because of a problem, not for a check-up.

In financial planning we too find that the 25-44 age bracket don’t tend to initiate contact with a planner unless a trigger event occurs.

So, what about the above statements? Is there any truth to them?

Everything’s okay, I don’t need to go

Like brushing your teeth every day or ensuring you’re paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible, consulting a professional to ensure everything is in order is a good habit to have.

Just as a dentist has superior equipment to investigate your teeth, a planner will have special tools to analyse your financial position and forecast if your mortgage repayments and superannuation contributions are putting you on track for a comfortable future.

That’s just going to be expensive

Professional services do have a fee attached, and often the more complex the advice, the higher the fee. Just as extensive, restorative dental work will most likely cost more than regular check-ups, the same can be said about financial planning advice.

My situation isn’t complex, I don’t need any help

My teeth aren’t any more complex than the next human, and most likely neither are yours, but we can both benefit from someone taking a look at them for us. The same can be said for your financial affairs: even better if yours don’t seem too complex. That should mean an adviser will have seen many other cases like yours and know the ins and outs of the options available to enhance your personal circumstances, and at a reasonable fee.

Personally, I think the three statements above are just a cover for one human condition we all tend to avoid: vulnerability.

No one likes the idea of a dentist poking sharp things around in our mouth, even if it’s just an attempt to numb the pain with an anaesthetic needle.

In planning, we look at people’s finances and can understand how that may make you feel uncomfortable.

And many people feel like we could have probably taken better care for our teeth, and our finances, so it’s okay to ‘own up’ to a professional and get some help. And sooner rather than later.

The solution: get your needs seen to before any problems crop up and you’ll save some dollars in relation to your health and your wealth.

Seek out professionals you feel comfortable to share your vulnerabilities with, as at the end of the day, no one wants to be only eating soup because they’ve got no teeth or money to be able to manage anything else.


Oral health and dental care in Australia: key facts and figures 2015, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (see: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129554382)

Investment Trends, Investment Trends 2015 Direct Client Report - survey of 10,367 Australian adults


Shayne Sommer is a financial adviser with Shadforth Financial Group who is passionate about engaging, educating, and equipping Australians to make sound financial decisions. She works with both individual and corporate clients, covering the whole A-Z of planning services to address clients’ individual needs.

The opinions expressed in this content are those of the author shown, and do not necessarily represent those of No More Practice or its related entities. To view our full terms and conditions, click here.

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