Household Financial Security Takes Another Hit In November

Digital Finance Analytics has released the November 2017 results from our Household Financial Security Index. The index uses data from our household surveys to assess households level of financial comfort.

The index fell to 96.1, which is below the 100 neutral metric, down from 96.9 in October 2017. This is the sixth month in succession the index has been below the neutral point.

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Owner Occupied households are the most positive, scoring 102, whilst those with investment property are at 94.3, as they react to higher mortgage repayments (rate rises and switching from interest only mortgages), while rental yields fall, and capital growth is stalling, especially in Sydney).  Households who are not holding property – our Property Inactive segment – will be renting or living with friends or family, and they scored 81.2. So those with property are still more positive overall.

Looking across the states, households in NSW and VIC are just above the neutral setting, but continue to slipping lower. Households in QLD are below the 100, but up a little, as are those in SA and WA. Western Australian households are the least positive, but somewhat improved.

Looking across the age ranges, younger households are the least positive, and all ages banks fell, other than those over 60 years which saw a small rise.

Looking at the FCI score card, job security is on the improve, reflecting rising employment participation, and the lower unemployment rate.  Around 20% of households feel less secure, especially those with multiple part time jobs.

Savings are being depleted to fill the gap between income and expenditure – as we see in the falling savings ratio. As a result, nearly 40% of households are less comfortable with the amount they are saving. This is reinforced by the lower returns on deposit accounts as banks seek to protect margins.

More households are uncomfortable with the amount of debt they hold with 40% of households concerned. The pressure of higher interest rates on loans, tighter lending conditions, and low income growth all adds to the discomfort. More households reported their real incomes had fallen in the part year, with 50% seeing a fall, while 40% see no change.  Only those on very high incomes reported real income growth.

More households reported a rise in their costs of living, and this month this included higher school fees and child care costs, energy bills and fuel costs. The average cpi of around 2% appears to understate the real life experience of many households.

Finally, household net worth improved for more than 60% of households, but there is a rise in those seeing no growth, mainly as home price growth eases back. Those with share market investments have done quite well in recent months.

Looking ahead, we expect the overall index to trend lower, as incomes remain constrained, and costs of living grow. The property market has a big impact on households level of confidence and the leading indicators are flagging lower outcomes ahead.  However, home prices would need to fall significantly to allow many of those currently unable to afford to buy in to the market.

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 52,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

We will update the results again next month.

 

Household Financial Security Weakens Again In October

The latest edition of the Digital Finance Analytics Household Financial Security Confidence Index to end October shows households are feeling less secure about their finances than in September. The overall index fell from 97.5 to 96.9, and remains below the 100 neutral setting. We use data from our household surveys to calculate the index.

While households holding property for owner occupation remain on average above the neutral setting, property investors continue to slip further into negative territory, as higher mortgage rates bite, rental returns slide and capital growth in some of the major markets stalls.  Those property inactive households remain the most insecure however, so owning property in still a net positive in terms of financial security.

There are significant variations across the states. VIC households continue to lead the way in terms of financial confidence, and WA households are moving up from a low base score. However, households in NSW see their confidence eroded as prices slide in some post codes (the average small fall as reported does not represent the true variation on on the ground – some western Sydney suburbs have fallen 5-10% in the past few months). Households in QLD and SA on average have held their position this month.

Confidence  continues to vary by age bands, although the average scores have drifted lower again. Younger households are consistently less confident, compared with older households, who tend to have smaller mortgages relative to income, and more equity in property and greater access to savings.

Looking in more detail at the FCI scorecard, 63% of household saw no change in their job prospects last month, while 19% felt less secure, especially in WA and SA.  Those with savings were a little less comfortable, reflecting both a net reduction in the amount saved (more households are raiding their savings to cover their costs of living) and lower interest rates on deposits.  Those with shares and other investments benefited from higher stock prices.

The burden of debt weighed heavy on many households with 42% of households less comfortable with their debt, a rise of 1.4% in the month. Some were concerned about potential interest rate rises, while others, especially those on interest only loans, were exercised by the prospect of having to refinance down the track.

More than half of households say their real incomes have fallen in the past year, and 67% said their costs of living have risen, up 4.1% from last month. Utility bills are higher, as are child care costs and school fees. We see more household relying on multiple part-time jobs to bring in sufficient income to pay the bills, and even then many are having to tap into savings to keep afloat.

We see little evidence of income growth in real terms, while credit growth continues at more than three time income. Given the recent slide in property values, and continued rises in living costs, we do not expect the index to move back into positive territory in the next few months.

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 52,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

We will update the results again next month.

 

 

Household Finance Confidence Breaks Down

Digital Finance Analytics has today released the Household Finance Confidence index to June 2017, and the news is not good. Overall the index has dropped below the neutral setting and appears to be trending lower. The current reading is 99.8% compared with 100.6 in May.

The fall is being driven by a confluence of issues, none new, but now writ large. Households are seeing the costs of living rising (especially power costs, child care costs and council rates), whilst household income remains depressed and is falling in real terms. Returns on deposits actually fell as well, so mortgage repricing is not being matched by better saving rates. The costs of mortgage repayments rose.

The most significant fall in confidence was in the property investor segment, where loan repricing has been more pronounced, whilst rental incomes are hardly growing. They are also concerned about slowing capital appreciation. However it is still true that property owners have their confidence buttressed relative to property inactive households who are more likely to be renting, and see no rise in their net worth.

Looking across the states, confidence is still highest in the booming states of NSW and VIC, though down a bit; whilst WA is recovering a little from lows earlier in the year.

Looking at the scorecard, households are more concerned about the amount of debt they hold, real incomes continue to fall and costs of living continue to rise. This despite job security not being a major concern. Take home pay however is.

We expect to see the index fall further as we move into spring, as more price hikes come though (e.g 20% uplift in electricity for many). The raft of mortgage rate repricing still has to work though and income growth will remain contained. Sentiment in the property sector is clearly a major influence on how households are felling about their finances, but the real dampening force is falling real incomes.

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 52,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

 

Household Financial Confidence Waned In May

The results from the latest Digital Finance Analytics Household Finance Confidence Index to end May 2017 is released today, and shows a lower overall score of 100.6, down from 101.5 last month. This is firmly in the neutral zone, but households with mortgages are feeling the pinch and the index is set to go lower in months ahead.

Both property investors and owner occupiers are more concerned about rising mortgage interest rates, and potentially falling property prices. There was less change in households who are property inactive, which shows how the dynamics of property is directly influencing confidence, but this group has a lower level of confidence to start with.

The biggest slide was in NSW, where the overall score is still the highest across the states, but is turning lower. Talk of lower prices, is hitting confidence. WA confidence is rising a little, but from a low baseline and there were small rises in QLD and SA.

Looking at the scorecard which drives the index, we see households have become a little more concerned about future job prospects, are less comfortable with savings returns, but significantly more concerned about the debt burden they are carrying in the context of falling real incomes, whilst costs of living continue to spiral higher. This despite net worth still rising for many.

Sentiment in the property sector is clearly a major influence on how households are felling about their finances, but the real dampening force is falling real incomes. This is unlikely to correct any time soon, so we expect continued weakness in the index as we go into winter.

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 52,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

Positive Property News Supports Household Finance Confidence

The latest Digital Finance Analytics Household Finance Confidence Index, to end December is released today. Overall household confidence is buoyant, and above the neutral setting. Sitting at 103.2, it is up from 100.02 in November.

The property “fairy” has been generous in that property is the key to the index at the moment, with positive news on home price rises, and the effect of the low interest rates following the last RBA cash rate cut flowing through. Home owners with an investment property have now overtaken the confidence score of owner occupied property holders, but both are higher. Those households who are not property active however continue to languish.

We see significant state variations, with those in NSW and VIC most confident, whilst those in WA, although slightly higher, is significantly off the pace.  The impact of changes to the first owner grant there will not flow through into the results for some time to come.

The impact of positive property news has swamped a couple of the negative indicators. For example, more households are saying their costs of living have risen in the past 12 months.

In addition, real incomes, after adjusting for inflation are static or falling. Very few have had any pay rises above inflation, and many none at all.

So, it seems the future of household confidence is joined at the hip with the future of property. In the light of our recent mortgage default modelling, in a rising interest rate market, this may be a concern as we progress through 2017. But at the moment, households are having a party!

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

Household Finance Confidence Higher Again

The latest data from the Digital Finance Analytics Household Finance Confidence Index shows a further improvement, with the November score now just above the 100 neutral position at 100.02. This is up from 98.2 in October, and the first time since 2014 we have been above the neutral setting.

fci-nov-2016-summaryThe full effect of recent rate changes and the availability of low-rate fixed mortgages, together with climbing home values in most states, combined,  have driven both home owners, and property investors confidence higher. In fact, for the first time in more than a year, property investors are more confident than owner occupiers. On the other hand, the one-third of households excluded from the property market drifted lower, thanks to higher costs of living and static or falling incomes.

fci-nov-2016-propertyLooking across the states, households in NSW are much more confident, with VIC slightly behind. Households in WA reported a fall in confidence, thanks to poorer employment prospects and falling home prices.

fci-nov-2016-statesjpgOn average households were a little less comfortable with the amount of debt they hold, thanks to expectations that interest rates have passed their low point, and will rise. 27.6% of households were less comfortable, up 3.9% from last month.

fci-nov-2016-debtWe also see a continued fall in real incomes, thanks to rising costs and flat or falling pay. 47.5% said their incomes had fallen, in real terms, in the past year, up 2.3% last month.

fci-nov-2016-income Households reported improved investment incomes from stocks and term deposits. However, appetite for investment property, especially down the east coast remains strong.

On average, younger households were less confident compared with those aged above 50 years.

By way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

Household Financial Security Confidence Improves Again

The latest edition of the Digital Finance Household Finance Confidence Index, to end August is released today. Overall the index rose again, from 95.1 to 95.8.

Household costs were relatively contained, whilst many received a boost from the RBA cash rate cut. Some savers were able to take advantage of higher term deposit rates, although others saw their returns on cash deposits falling further. Income growth remained static, but net worth improved thanks to rises in the value of property and shares. Overall the index remains below a neutral setting, but some households in some states are now well into positive territory.

fci-aug-2016 The cash rate cut helped to propel the confidence of those with owner occupied and investment property, while those who are property inactive did not show the same rise. In addition, the more recent positive home price rises bolstered property investors.

fci-aug-2016-ptyThe state variations continue to widen, with households in NSW and VIC well into positive territory, whilst those in WA languish.

fci-aug-2016-statesBy way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

 

Household Finance Confidence Holds

The latest Digital Finance Analytics Household Finance Confidence index, for July 2016 is released today. The index, which measures households’ attitudes to their finances, stands at 95.17, down a little from last month from 95.21, and below the long term average of 100. However, there are wide variations among households.

FCI-Jul-2016--IndexHouseholds with savings in bank deposits were more confident, thanks to small, but significant uplifts in term deposit rates. We expect to see this continue, following the August RBA rate cut, and banks’ repricing of term deposits.

One factor of note is the ongoing fall in households who recorded real income growth in the past year. This is a drag on confidence, and spending. The small cut in mortgage interest rates will not help very much.

FCI-July-2016---IncomeThere are significant differences by property segment, with owner occupied households the most confident, thanks to falling interest rates and continued property price rises. Property investors also recorded  a rise, thanks to rising property values, though trimmed by low rental income rises, and mortgage pricing. Property inactive households were the least confident, not least because with incomes flat many are finding it tough to make rental payments on time. They are not able to particulate in the wealth effect of holding property.

FCI-Jul-2016---PtyThere are also variations across selected states. Households in NSW and VIC are the more confident, thanks to relatively good employment prospects, and stable living costs.  Households in WA and SA are more concerned, with issues such an employment and living costs in mind.

FCI-Jul-2016-StatesBy way of background, these results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health. To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

 

Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households – Fed Survey

The Federal Reserve Board’s latest survey of the financial and economic conditions of American households released Wednesday finds that individuals’ overall perceptions of financial well-being improved modestly between 2013 and 2014 but their optimism about future financial prospects increased significantly.

The 2014 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking, provides new insight into Americans’ economic security, housing and living arrangements, banking and credit access, education and student loan debt, savings behavior, and retirement preparedness. Sixty-five percent of adult respondents consider their families to be either “doing okay” or “living comfortably” financially–an increase of 3 percentage points from the 2013 survey.

Looking forward, households are increasingly optimistic. Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents say they expect their income to be higher in the year following the survey, compared to 21 percent of 2013 respondents.

The survey results reveal a lack of economic preparedness among many adults. Only 53 percent of respondents indicate that they could cover a hypothetical emergency expense costing $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Thirty-one percent of respondents report going without some form of medical care in the past year because they could not afford it.

The outlook for the housing market among surveyed homeowners remained generally positive, as 43 percent believe that their house increased in value over the past year and 39 percent expect home values in their neighborhood to rise in the coming year. Many renters also express an interest in buying but report financial barriers to homeownership, with half of all renters listing an inability to afford a down payment as a reason why they rent rather than own and 31 percent citing an inability to qualify for a mortgage as a reason for renting.

Twenty-three percent of the adult population has some form of education debt, according to the survey. However, this debt is not exclusively student loans. Fourteen percent of those with education debt say that some of that debt is on credit cards. Individuals who did not complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, first generation students, blacks and Hispanics, and those who attended for-profit institutions, are all disproportionately likely to be behind on repaying their student loan debt.

Recognizing the importance of degree completion to many outcomes, the survey explores why some individuals leave college without a degree. Family responsibilities is the most common reason, and was cited by 38 percent of all respondents who dropped out and by just less than half of women younger than 45.

The survey results also suggest that many individuals are not adequately prepared for retirement. Thirty-one percent of non-retirees have no retirement savings or pension, including nearly a quarter of those older than 45. Even among individuals who are saving, fewer than half of adults with self-directed retirement savings are mostly or very confident in their ability to make the right investment decisions when managing their retirement savings.

Consistent with a lack of preparedness for retirement, 38 percent of non-retired respondents say that they either do not plan to retire or plan to keep working as long as possible. Among lower-income respondents, whose household income is less than $40,000 per year, 55 percent plan to keep working as long as possible or never plan to retire.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Board in October and November 2014. More than 5,800 respondents completed the survey. The report summarizing the survey’s key findings may be found at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/communitydev/shed.htm

DFA Household Finance Confidence Index Falls Again In April

The latest DFA Household Finance Confidence Index (FCI) to end April 2015, showed a further slight fall, from 91.97 in March to 91.87 in April, and continues to track below the long term neutral position.

FSI-Index-Apr2015The results are derived from our household surveys, averaged across Australia. We have 26,000 households in our sample at any one time. We include detailed questions covering various aspects of a household’s financial footprint. The index measures how households are feeling about their financial health.

To calculate the index we ask questions which cover a number of different dimensions. We start by asking households how confident they are feeling about their job security, whether their real income has risen or fallen in the past year, their view on their costs of living over the same period, whether they have increased their loans and other outstanding debts including credit cards and whether they are saving more than last year. Finally we ask about their overall change in net worth over the past 12 months – by net worth we mean net assets less outstanding debts.

Looking at the drivers of the index, for all Australia, we see that households are a little more confident about their employment status (+0.28%), but there was overall little change (63.2%). We noted a rotation in confidence towards NSW and away from WA, reflecting the impact of the mining boom coming off.

FSI-Jobs-Apr2015Looking at confidence with respect to savings, we find that whilst about half of the households scored about the same, there was a further deterioration in those more comfortable (-0.3%) and a rise in those less comfortable (+0.43%). The main factors which are driving this related to ever lower deposit interest rates, and the need to tap into savings as income growth stalls. Males tend to be more confident than Females.

FSI-Savings-Apr2015Turning to debt, we see that households are less comfortable about the the amount of debt they hold (-0.9%), this is explained by a growth in the absolute level of debt many households have, and concerns that cash flow is under pressure making it more difficult to repay on time. Lower interest rates have not translated into lower debt costs as many hold balances in credit cards where interest rates remain high.

FSI-Debt-Apr2015Turning to real income, some households have seen their incomes rise and were more comfortable (+1.5%), but in contrast more are also less comfortable, as their incomes were eroded in real terms (+1.4%), so as a result, the number who stayed the same fell by 2.2% to 55.8%. Those in part-time work tended to be less confident.

FSI-Income-Apr2015Households whose costs of living rose were up by 1.6% to 37.2%, driven by higher child care costs, garage repair bills, some foods and council rates. 57% of households saw no major change and 4% saw their cost fall, thanks to reductions in fuel costs and some foods. The falling AU$ also had some impact on the results.

FSI-CostsOfLiving-Apr2105Finally, we looked at net worth, 60% of households think their net worth has improved, thanks to higher house prices and paying forward on mortgage repayments, whilst 14% believe their net worth fell. Many of these households live in rented accommodation, and have substantial debts, and relatively few assets. Those not borrowing, but holding substantial savings balances were more likely to see their net worth reduced.

FSI-NetWorthApr2015This data is averaged across the states, though we note some significant differences between WA (overall confidence lower) and NSW (overall confidence higher), thanks mainly to differential movements in house prices and employment prospects.

Note, these results were collated before the last RBA interest rate cut, and the budget speech. We will examine the impact of these factors on households next month.