Financial literacy concerns as services exit the region
The exodus of bricks-and-mortar financial services from regional WA is leaving residents unsure where to turn for advice, according to Compare the Market banking general manager Rod Attrill.
A Compare the Market-commissioned Deloitte Access Economics report into Australia’s financial literacy has found nearly twothirds of people surveyed in regional Australia fell into the lowest category.
Mr Attrill said household fees and charges and lack of access to financial services in regional WA were among the worst in the country.
“Certainly in smaller towns in the South West and up north those services are becoming very limited, and that is a challenge,” he said.
“Education is the big thing. People in rural areas can certainly use various online tools to educate themselves and be just as financially literate as people in city areas.
“I think sometimes they don’t feel they have the support to do that because those face-to-face services are moving on.”
WA scored an average financial literacy rate of 51.5 per cent, just above the national average of 51.2.
The west had the highest per cent of respondents concerned about job security and the highest rate of people not confident of their ability to retire at 65.
Mr Attrill said he expected that to change quickly as the State’s economy picked up.
“The other thing good for WA was difference in scores between females and males was quite good; the gender gap in WA is closer than any other States,” he said.
“Even if you budget for a week or fortnight to understand where the income to your household has gone. . .it will help people understand what they can do and what they can change.
“It is one of those things that is a bit boring, but putting the time aside to focus on it will pay off in spades down the track.”
Mr Attrill said comparing loans, particularly home loans due to out-of-cycle interest rate changes, was worthwhile for those looking to save money.