Most American households are confident that their post-crash austerity is paying off, according to a survey by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research.

Some 81% of Americans say they’re now more responsible with their household finances than they were two years ago and seven out of 10 people are optimistic about their financial situations over the next two years.

“With all the gloom and doom in the polls, and going into an election, I expected to find that people would be a lot more discouraged,” says Barbara Iverson, president of Weber Shandwick’s financial services industry practice. “Instead, 70% of people feel that things are looking up.”

However, while most people are generally pretty confident things will work out, only 31%, actually feel in control over their household’s finances. Fewer still have reached out to financial professionals to help them manage their money—only 19% say they’re leaning more than usual on their financial advisors and just 17% have turned to their banks for help.

There is similar apathy on the savings front. In terms of assets, 78% of people are becoming more concerned about saving money, although only 42% of people are actually tucking money away. (Still, that’s up from only one third of Americans two years ago.)

This relatively confident, neo-austere public sentiment is actually a huge opportunity for banks and other financial services firms, Iverson says, but don’t lead with a product. People are feeling better but they’re still concerned about the future. The best approach is to provide them a forum, either in a physical location or through social media, “to allow them to ask questions and then to give them good answers,” she says. “Improving communication [with clients and prospects] is extraordinarily important right now.”


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