Financial stress causing $31 billion in lost productivity

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on November 12, 2020
Financial stress causing $31 billion in lost productivity

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

AMP's 'Financial Wellness' research found 1.8 million Australians are experiencing financial stress, causing employee distraction and absenteeism.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 2,100 Australians, conducted between June and July, and extrapolated using wider Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

The survey also found about half of the workforce experienced at least some level of stress about their finances, with those 'severely' or 'moderately' stressed 'ineffective' at work for 7.7 hours per week.

Sick days among the financially stressed also mounted, averaging out to an additional 1.2 hours every work week.

One in five females reported financial stress, as opposed to just over one in ten males.

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate* Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval

VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
ZERO APPLICATION FEESFEE FREE OFFSET

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
  • No upfront or ongoing fees
FixedMore details
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
USE A MARKET LEADING APP TO HELP YOU PAY OFF YOUR LOAN SOONER

Fixed Home Loan 1 year (Principal and Interest) (LVR < 80%)

  • Make up to $20,000 additional repayments per fixed term
  • Redraw available – lets you access any extra loan repayments you’ve made
  • Choose to rate lock for 90 days (fee applies)
VariableMore details
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)(LVR <75%)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)(LVR <75%)

  • No application or ongoing fees.
  • 100% free offset sub account.
  • Fast online application, approval in minutes not weeks.
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card, Apple and Google Pay
  • Refinance loans and variable rates only.

Rates correct as of January 28, 2022. View disclaimer.

The stress might also peak over the coming months - Standard and Poor's (S&P) said in a report that any present mortgage hardship data does not "reflect genuine debt-serviceability pressures".

"We expect these trends to surface later this year and, more meaningfully, in the first quarter of 2021," the report said.

This coincides with the second wave of mortgage deferrals expiring, after many lenders offered deferrals until March 2021, and is despite renewed positive sentiment in the housing market, with Australians' average debt twice that of their income - led largely by housing - according to the ABS.

Australia's household debt-to-GDP ratio is also about 120%, second in the world only to Switzerland.

AMP's director of workplace super Ilaine Anderson said the stress goes beyond COVID-19 impacts.

"The research – conducted since 2014 – shows that financial stress remains a systemic issue in Australian society," she said.

“This is spilling into work with stressed employees worried and distracted, and not performing at the levels they’re capable of, or they don’t turn up at all. The combined effect is costing Australian businesses billions each year."

AMP's research also comes after CommBank teamed up with the University of NSW's 'Gendered Violence Research Network' to determine key areas for financial institutions to provide support to those undergoing economic and financial abuse.

"Financial abuse is a hidden epidemic affecting thousands of Australians who are experiencing domestic and family violence," CommBank group executive Sian Lewis said.

"Yet, there is limited academic evidence on the issue making it difficult to develop and deliver effective support for people impacted."

Such support measures identified include tailored financial products for victims, increased training for domestic violence support teams, and identifying how financial products can be misused by abusers and perpetrators.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.

For counselling, advice and support call Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or ntv.org.au/get-help.

In an emergency or if you’re not feeling safe, always call 000.

Non-banks lenders still outperforming major and regional banks

S&P data shows non-bank lenders' COVID arrangements amounted to just 3.5% of the prime loan book in September.

This is ahead of the majors at 5.2% and regionals at 7.2%.

Other banks' arrangements also amounted to 5.5% of the loan books.

A tick over 4% of all low-doc home loans were in arrears by 90 days or more.

These figures are down sharply on May and June's results, however.

For example, 10.9% of regional banks' prime loans were deferred in June.

This data is "reflecting the gradual reopening of the economy in most parts of the country," according to Westpac's credit strategy team.


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered. Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site. Savings.com.au, yourmortgage.com.au, yourinvestmentpropertymag.com.au, and Performance Drive are part of the Savings Media group. In the interests of full disclosure, the Savings Media Group are associated with the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings Media Group manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please visit the web site links at the bottom of this page.

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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison is passionate about breaking down complex financial topics for the everyday consumer.

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