The COVID-19 crisis had a significant impact on the level of Australian interest in financial advice and superannuation in 2020. There was an 18% increase in online search interest in information about financial advice and more than 140,000 mentions of superannuation on Twitter.
We commissioned research to identify topics of conversation and mention volumes relevant to financial advice in 2020*. The results showed that Australians’ interest in financial advice surged in 2020 compared to 2019, motivated mainly by a heightened interest in superannuation, scams and misconduct.
It appears the pandemic caused people to pay closer attention to matters related to the preservation of their finances, now and into the future. Superannuation was a topic focused on by publishers and readers alike, as Australians engaged with and talked about the impacts and risks of the Federal Government’s early access scheme.
Seven of the ten most engaged-with articles covered superannuation and nine of the 20 most engaged-with articles covered improper conduct^. The latter related, in the main, to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s letter to peak real estate bodies asking them to remind real estate agents that they were unqualified to provide financial advice.
Other articles about superannuation which generated substantial engagement included one describing the compound future impact of withdrawing $20,000 from superannuation today; and another mentioning that 500,000 Australians aged 30 years or younger had dipped into their superannuation.
Seven key insights emerged from the research:
- Australians were generally more interested in information about financial advice in 2020 than 2019.
- More articles were published about financial advice in 2020 than 2019. We saw close to 17,500 relevant news mentions by Australian news and trade publications, in 2020 – a 61% increase from the previous year^.
- Publishers focused on scams, improper conduct, superannuation, and retirement. Australian Community Media’s series on the ACCC’s Scamwatch alone accounted for nearly 3,000 news mentions.
- Australians engaged most with stories about superannuation, improper conduct, and rental protection.
- Seven of the 10 most engaged with articles related to superannuation. Most reported on the provision of unlicensed advice by real estate agents urging the use of superannuation to pay rent. Others examined the future impacts of withdrawing superannuation and the age of those withdrawing their money.
- Nine of the 20 most engaged with articles reported on breaches and potential breaches of laws governing the provision of financial advice. These included articles covering ASIC’s warning to peak real estate bodies, ASIC’s action against the Commonwealth Bank of Australia for ‘conflicted remuneration’ and the intrusiveness of questions posed by real estate agents to tenants seeking rental relief.
- Unlicensed financial advice was a popular topic of conversation on Twitter in Australia in 2020, with more than 12,700 relevant mentions during the year. Two issues drove substantial increases in conversations:
- the provision of advice by real estate agents suggesting tenants facing financial hardship use their superannuation to pay their rent; and
- Liberal MP Tim Wilson’s social media posts encouraging people to use their superannuation to buy property.
- There was a surge in conversation about superannuation, with 140,000 relevant Twitter mentions during 2020. Two issues drove these conversations:
- the Federal Government’s support of Australians to access their superannuation early; and
- the Parliamentary debate about reversing a planned increase in the superannuation guarantee.
- There was an 18% increase in searches for ‘financial advice’ in 2020, relative to 2019. Average monthly searches for ‘financial advice’ increased from 12,100 searches in 2019 to 14,800 in 2020. Google Trends reports eight topics (related to financial advice) with increases in search interest of 5,000% or more relative to 2019. These topics included: Australian Taxation Office, ethics, AustralianSuper, conflict of interest, strategy, broker, retirement, and certified public accountant.
*The research was conducted independently by digital and content agency Kamber. The content analysis used Meltwater and BuzzSumo to identify what Australians published and engaged with in 2020. A conversation analysis was applied using Meltwater to identify topics of conversation and mention volumes relevant to financial advice. In addition, a search analysis using SEMrush and Google Trends identified what Australians searched for, relevant to financial advice.
^Please note: data from some copyright news sources are not accessible through search tools meaning that the data reported here does not reflect volumes of news mentions with 100% accuracy.