Celebrating 10 years of helping people build financial confidence!
The Davidson Institute is excited to be celebrating its 10th anniversary of helping Australians build their financial confidence and work towards a better financial future. Over those 10 years we have helped more than 1.3 million people learn more about managing their money through engaging, educating and encouraging positive financial behavioural change.
At a local level, we have delivered face to face workshops for business owners and individuals across the country and into the Pacific Islands; we have empowered Westpac Group staff to be Financial Wellbeing Champions, to deliver education in their local communities; and we have partnered with community organisations to help our most vulnerable Australians. The Davidson Institute also connects with the more digitally savvy through a suite of online resources available on the Davidson Institute website.
We have seen many changes over those years but none more dramatic than the last 12 months. A year of pandemic experience has reshaped the attitudes and behaviours of financial decision-makers. For some people and businesses their financial position became more vulnerable, and they had to adapt. A remarkable aspect during a year when many people struggled financially [i]was the surge in savings. Australia’s household net savings rate, according to ABS data, reached a high of 18.7% of net disposable income for the September 2020 quarter and ended the year at 12% in the December 2020 quarter. In actual terms households and businesses saved over $200 billion more last year compared to the previous period, according to the Treasury.
This is potentially contributing to the recovery of the Australian economy as consumer sentiment is soaring to new heights. According to the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index, consumer sentiment increased by 6.2% to 118.8 in April 2021 from 111.8 in March 2021. But, as consumer confidence recovers, will people keep up the positive behaviours developed during the pandemic? Or, will a spending surge materialise from pent-up demand, that could reverse much of the savings progress that Australians made last year?
Irrespective of people’s net saving rate over the last year, many now have a heightened awareness of the importance of financial education to help them navigate times of change. Through financial education, knowledge can be gained to build skills and over time change behaviours to improve personal financial wellbeing.
The Davidson Institute encourages people to overcome three key personal hurdles to help them move beyond simply acquiring knowledge and skills to achieving financial wellbeing.
- Overcome your money story. Many people have a money story that’s not serving them well. It’s the narrative you tell yourself about your finances. Things like “I just can’t save money” or “I don’t get paid very much so I’m never going to be able to buy a home”. What’s important to remember, is that you aren’t defined by your money story. With awareness, insight, knowledge and discipline you can take control and start working to make empowered decisions about your money - even if you haven’t had fantastic money management role models.
- Balance spending with delaying gratification. There is a lot to be said for doing things (and spending money on those things) that align with your goals and make you happy. However, impulsive spending can undermine the benefits of a long-term savings plan. Exercising delayed gratification can help people to take control of many aspects of their lives, including their finances.
- Build empathy for your future self. The deliberate practice of considering the needs of your future selves, can help people plan with the long-term in mind, save more, and build more wealth. In his TED talk, “The psychology of your future self”, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains that many of us have a bias that is holding us back – namely we tend to think that the person we are today is the person we will always be. However, by envisioning your future self, it becomes possible to change and work towards a desired future state.
Helping people overcome these hurdles, build their financial management skills, and build a stronger financial future for themselves, their families, and their communities is at the core of our Davidson Institute DNA. We’re so pleased to have helped so many people over the past 10 years. The way we help has evolved considerably in those 10 years and we’re looking forward to seeing that evolution continue over the next 10 years too.
This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice. © Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.
 In December 2020, Westpac’s COVID sentiment tracker, found that 31% of households and 21% of SMEs surveyed struggled to meet their financial commitments.
[i] In December 2020, Westpac’s COVID sentiment tracker, found that 31% of households and 21% of SMEs surveyed struggled to meet their financial commitments.