ER: What are the most important ways you would like to see this growing and evolving body of financial wellbeing research influence policy, regulators and lead bodies?
EK: I want policymakers to recognise tackling poverty and inequality is really vitally important to the wellbeing of the population. And you can't leave it all to education and behaviour change.
Income matters but actually within that there is so much more we can do to help individuals make the most of the money they have. After all, not everybody who loses their job ends up in serious financial difficulty.
We understand from this work what makes the difference between keeping your head just above water and going right under. We need to move on from the idea greater knowledge is the most important thing and we need to learn from techniques that have long been used in health and public health to bring about behaviour change. There are lots of lessons we can learn from the pandemic about how people will change their behaviour.
ER: If you had to ask someone just one question to understand their financial wellbeing, what would you ask them?
EK: I think there are probably two questions. First, I would ask them about their ability to pay their bills on time - that's the sharp end of it all. If you can't pay your bills on time, then you won't have any financial resilience either.
But in terms of what determines your financial wellbeing, I would ask about financial locus of control because it affects so many of the behaviours that impact financial wellbeing. In terms of what's determining financial wellbeing, I suppose maybe a third question would be level of income. If you knew those three things, you'd know a lot.
ER: I would love you to comment on the longevity of the ANZ survey.
EK: In a few words, I'm really impressed. Nobody else has stayed with it for as long as ANZ has. As you say, it’s the longest running survey but what I think is even more important is it has adapted to meet new challenges and changes in circumstance. The survey has evolved as we have better understood what matters most in people's financial lives. Generations to come will be really grateful all this data has been collected.
Emily Ross is Content Producer and Director of Emily Ross Bespoke. You can read more about Elaine Kempson here.
Click here to read the Financial Wellbeing report.