A nationally representative survey by YouGov, commissioned by Cannings Strategic Communications, found 46 per cent of Australians struggled to understand financial information.
Only 13 per cent of people surveyed considered themselves fluent in financial speak, according to the survey.
People living in regional areas on low incomes - below $50,000 - were also more likely to rate their financial knowledge as poor (22 per cent) compared to people living in metropolitan areas and earning more money (15 per cent).
Women were also more likely to rate their financial knowledge as poor, with 25 per cent struggling with financial information compared to 17 per cent of men.
“Financial literacy plays a crucial role in our everyday lives, from using buy now, pay later schemes, to opening and closing bank accounts and applying for a mortgage,” Cannings Strategic Communications chief executive Luis Garcia said.
“Yet most Australians admit they find it near impossible to understand the information provided by financial institutions and others, which means it is increasingly tougher for them to make informed decisions.”
The bulk of participants called for better financial education in schools as the top solution to poor financial literacy.
The academics noted the absence of an independent financial-literacy strand in the Australian curriculum, aside from a unit within maths.
As well as better education in schools, Garcia said financial institutions should consider using plain English wherever possible.
People interact with financial institutions anyway
Poor financial literacy hasn’t stopped people investing. Around 82 per cent of those surveyed put a slice of their salary into savings or investments.
Most people asked family or friends for advice (40 per cent), while 28 per cent relied on mainstream financial media. Only 21 per cent used professional financial advisers.
Social media and ‘fin-fluencers’ - financial influencers - were also common sources guiding their financial decision-making.