Figures show businesses' sales struggle

Posted on 25 June 2020
Figures show businesses' sales struggle

Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)

Two thirds of businesses have collected less revenue than this time last year due to the ongoing economic impact of coronavirus restrictions, new data shows.

Education and training providers were most likely to report lower revenue, or 87 per cent of the industry, according to the survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Many of these providers have had to cancel courses due to social distancing restrictions.

Accommodation and food services providers, and information media and telecommunications businesses, were the next most commonly affected.

More than 80 per cent of providers surveyed in these industries also reported lower revenue.

The federal government started putting in a series of restrictions to slow the spread of the virus from February when it stopped visitors entering Australia from China, where the virus originated.

The decision devastated the education and tourism sectors, which serve many Chinese visitors.

Restrictions on outdoor gatherings and businesses' contact with customers came into force in March, though have sinced been eased partially.

The extent of the drop in revenue has been severe for some traders.

More than three in every 10 businesses with less revenue said those funds fell by 50 per cent or more.

Those accommodation and food services providers with less revenue were most common to report a fall of this magnitude (63 per cent), followed by those in the arts and recreation services (60 per cent).

The federal government has used a series of economic stimulus packages to help businesses through the pandemic.

These include JobKeeper, which supplements employee wages, and the HomeBuilder scheme which provides grants of up to $25,000 to help people build or renovate homes.

The ABS data was compiled from 1,431 businesses in the week of June 10.

Posted in: News  

Scams cost Australians over $630 million

Posted on 23 June 2020
Scams cost Australians over $630 million

Australians lost over $634 million to scams in 2019, according to the latest figures in the ACCC's Targeting Scams report released today.

There were more than 353,000 combined reports to Scamwatch, other government agencies and the big four banks last year.

"Unfortunately it is another year with devastatingly high losses, and scammers are constantly finding new ways to defraud Australians," ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

"This year we have included data from the big four banks which gives a more complete picture of how much people are losing to scams."

Business email compromise scams accounted for the highest losses in 2019, with the Australian business community, and some individuals losing $132 million.

This was followed by investment scams at $126 million, and dating and romance scams at $83 million.

Over the last 10 years of Targeting Scams reports, Scamwatch has received almost one million reports of scams.

"When we combine Scamwatch reports with partner data, we see that Australians have reported losing $2.5 billion over that time, which is astonishing," Ms Rickard said.

"We know these numbers still vastly understate losses as around one third of people don't report scam losses to anyone and in the past far fewer scam reports to other agencies have been captured."

"Some of these scams can last for months, or even years, and can leave victims financially and emotionally devastated."

Based solely on reports provided to the ACCC in 2019, scams originating on social media increased by 20 per cent and contacts via mobile phone apps increased by 29 per cent.

"Over the last decade, scammers have taken advantage of new technologies and current scams are using social media apps and new payment methods that didn't exist in 2009," Ms Rickard said.

"In particular, a new trend with dating and romance scams is scammers contacting the victim on social media apps or games which are not designed for dating, so it's important to be aware that scammers can target you anywhere."

Common techniques that scammers use to manipulate their victims include making exclusive offers that you don't want to miss out on, or asking for small commitments, such as completing a survey, to make the victim more likely to comply with larger schemes.

"You can always say no, hang up the phone or delete an email, even if you've said yes previously. You don't owe the scammer anything," Ms Rickard said.

If you think have been the victim of a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible and contact the platform on which you were scammed.

The ACCC continues to work with the private sector to share intelligence about scam trends impacting their services, to assist their own disruption efforts.

The ACCC encourages people to visit www.scamwatch.gov.au to report scams and learn more about what to do if they are targeted by scammers.

They can also follow @scamwatch_gov on Twitter to keep up to date with advice for avoiding the latest scams affecting the community.

Background

The 2019 Targeting Scams report includes data from Scamwatch, ACORN (ceased operating 30 Jun 2019), ReportCyber (commenced 1 Jul 2019), ACMA, ATO, Services Australia, WA Scamnet, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and ANZ.

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Financial planning is a step in the right direction: here's how the process works

Posted on 28 May 2020
Financial planning is a step in the right direction: here's how the process works

Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)

Nearly half of all Aussies plan on seeking financial advice in the future1. If you're one of them, you might be wondering how it all works. Here's our comprehensive guide to the financial planning process.

If you've never worked with a financial planner before, it can all feel a bit daunting. How do I find a financial planner? How much will it cost? What then?

The good news is, it's a relatively simple and easy process. There are lots of resources available to help you, and you'll have plenty of opportunities along the way to evaluate both the planner and the advice you're receiving, so you're not locked into anything you're not comfortable with.

Why do I need a financial planner?

There are many reasons why people seek advice from a financial planner. In general, the main triggers are marriage, having kids and planning for your family's future or other life events such as changing jobs. Perhaps you're concerned about your retirement and need to understand what the next stage of life could look like whilst we're experiencing this global pandemic. None of us know how long the COVID-19 outbreak will affect us and what the long term consequences are, so it may be worth checking in with a financial planner to safeguard yourself and your assets as best as you can.

Whatever the reason, if you've been thinking about getting financial advice, now is a great time. It's never too early to start planning for your financial future.

What is the financial planning process?

1. Preparing to see a financial planner

Consider your needs

Before you meet with any planners, it's a good idea to think about what you want help with. Do you want help investing money? Budgeting? Or planning for retirement? Knowing what you need help with will help you find the right financial planner for your circumstances, as planners can have different areas of expertise.

Understanding the types of advice

There are two types of financial advice available to consumers. General financial advice doesn't take into account your personal circumstances, while personal financial advice is tailored to your individual situation and goals. A financial planner can give you tailored personal financial advice about a single issue, such as superannuation, or ongoing advice, including regular monitoring and review of your financial affairs. Read more about the difference between general and personal financial advice here.

2. Choosing a financial planner

What should I look for in a financial planner?

When choosing a financial planner, you want to make sure that they have the right qualifications and experience. Members of the Financial Planning Association of Australia (FPA) also adhere to higher standards than non-FPA members, including a strict code of professional practice and code of ethics. You can find out more here.

Tip: Financial planning is an ongoing relationship, not just a one-off meeting. Look for someone that you're comfortable with and can work with over the long-term.

Meet and compare financial advisors

Once you've shortlisted your top two or three planners, it's time to meet with them!

Most financial planners won't charge you for an initial meeting, so this is a good opportunity to meet with a few different advisors and see if you find a good match.

Ask plenty of questions and don't be afraid to ask about anything you're unsure of. A good planner will listen carefully, answer your questions clearly and explain what kind of advice they can offer you.

They'll also ask about your current circumstances and what you're hoping to achieve financially (your financial goals).

This is also your chance to ask about their fees, if you have any questions.

Tip: Remember, you can go away and think about it, you don't need to commit to anything at the first meeting.

What does it cost to get financial advice?

There are a few different ways planners can structure their fees. The cost depends on the complexity of your situation, as well as the method the planner uses. The fees might include an upfront fee to identify your needs, develop a financial plan and implement their recommendations. There may also be ongoing administration and/or services fees.

Ask the financial planner how they charge for their services at your first meeting. Make sure you're comfortable with their fees before you agreed to receive any services from them, or sign any documents. Find out more about fees here.

3. Getting financial advice

Preparing the financial plan (also known as Statement of Advice)

Once you've agreed to go ahead, your financial planner will request more detailed information from you, so they can prepare your statement of advice. This usually includes information about your income, assets, debts, expenses, insurance, wills, superannuation etc. It also sets out their advice, details of the financial product provider and information on payments to the financial planner.

Once your statement of advice has been finalised, it will be presented to you in a follow-up meeting. Take the time to go through your plan carefully and make sure you understand it all. Check that it meets your financial goals and that you're comfortable with the level of risk.

There is no pressure for you to accept the recommendations in your Statement of Advice. If you're not comfortable with the plan, discuss your concerns with your planner.

Once you're happy to go ahead with the SOA, the financial planner will usually ask you to sign a service agreement, or authority to proceed document.

Implementing the recommendations

Once you're ready to go ahead, your financial planner will help put your plan into action. That could mean setting up investments, choosing insurance/s or working with your accountant and/or lawyer.

Reviewing the plan

It's important to review your financial plan regularly, to make sure it still meets your needs. If you're paying for ongoing financial advice, your planner should meet with you each year to review your financial situation, discuss the progress of your plan and advise you of any legal or regulatory changes that could affect you.

4. Ending financial advice

If for any reason you're not happy with your financial planner, or the advice you're receiving, you do have options. Check your Statement of Advice for details on ending the relationship, or contact the FPA for advice.

There you have it! Now that you understand how the financial planning process works, there's never been a better time to get started.

We've included lots of useful information and resources on Money & Life to help you in your financial planning journey, so take a look around and then try Match My Planner!

ASIC, 2019, Financial advice: What consumers really think

 

Posted in: News  

Australia seeks to expand exports to India

Posted on 25 May 2020
Australia seeks to expand exports to India

(Australian Associated Press)

Australia will pursue agreements with India aimed at expanding export markets when the leaders of both countries soon have a virtual meeting.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was supposed to visit his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in January but the trip was cancelled due to the bushfires crisis.

Now the coronavirus has halted international travel, the leaders are planning a video meeting, although a date is yet to be set.

Australia has been looking to complete a defence agreement on reciprocal access to bases and cooperation on military technology projects.

A new education partnership is also on the cards, as are Australian plans to export more goods to India, including agricultural products.

"Australia and India are natural partners with deep people-to-people links," a spokesman for Mr Morrison told AAP.

"The prime minister looks forward to holding a virtual summit with Indian Prime Minister Modi in the near future as another step to advance our India economic strategy and cement India in the top tier of Australia's partnerships."

The summit comes amid the government's recent diplomatic upset with China, which has imposed prohibitive tariffs on Australian barley imports.

Posted in: News  

How to set up your budget

Posted on 22 May 2020
How to set up your budget

MoneySmart
(ASIC)

Having a budget helps you to feel in control of your money. You can put aside money for big bills when they arrive, and plan savings to achieve your money goals.

You don't need an accountant or special software to set up your own budget. Start by looking at where you are right now and where you want to be.

Set your money goals

First, work out why you want to do a budget. This can help you to decide where you want your money to go.

Ask yourself: what is my goal? It could be to stay on top of bills, save for emergencies, pay for your children's education, or save for a holiday or a house deposit.

See where your money goes

Having a clear picture of your regular expenses and spending habits will help you set up your budget.

To do this, track your spending over a week, a fortnight or a month. See track your spending for practical ways to do this.

How to set up your budget

Use how often you get paid as the timeframe for your budget. For example, if you get paid weekly, set up a weekly budget.

Then follow these steps to set up each section.

Use our budget planner

Set up your budget and save it online or use our Excel budget spreadsheet.

1. Record your income

Record how much money is coming in and when. If you don't have a regular amount of income, work out an average amount.

Make a list of all money coming in, including:

  • how much
  • where from
  • how often (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly)

This money could be from your wages, pension, government benefit or payment, or income from investments.

2. Add up your expenses

Record your regular expenses, including:

  • what for
  • how much
  • when

Regular expenses are your 'needs' the essential items you need to pay for to live. These include:

Fixed expenses, for example:

  • rent or mortgage payments
  • electricity, gas and phone bills
  • council rates
  • household expenses, like food and groceries
  • medical costs and insurance
  • transport costs, like car registration and public transport
  • family costs, like baby products, child care, school fees and sporting activities

Debt expenses, for example:

  • personal loan repayments
  • credit card payments
  • mortgage repayments

Unexpected expenses, for example:

  • car repairs and services
  • medical bills
  • extra school costs
  • pet costs

To make sure you've recorded all your expenses, look at your bills or bank statements. If you tracked your spending, use your list of transactions.

3. See if you can save

Having some savings can help create a safety net for unexpected expenses. Set a savings goal and work out how much you can save each payday.

Use our savings goals calculator

Work out how long it will take you to reach your savings goal.

4. Set your spending limit

The money you have left after expenses and savings is your spending money. This money is for 'wants', such as entertainment, eating out and hobbies.

Make a plan for what you want to do with your spending money. This will help you to keep within your limit. Keep track of your spending so you always know how much you've got left.

Set up three bank accounts: a high interest savings account for savings, and two transaction accounts for spending and bills. Schedule transfers of your savings and direct debits for your bills to automate your finances.

Review your budget regularly

It's important to adjust your budget as things change. For example, if you find you can't cover all your expenses, savings and spending, you may have to reduce your spending limit, or change your savings goal.

For ideas to help reduce spending, see simple ways to save money. You can also look for ways to increase your income.

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