Brits lack financial savvy and are obsessed with instant gratification


Well so says ‘The Future of Money report, which also showed that as political disarray over Brexit heightens, concern about the UK’s departure from the European Union is escalating (up from among 31% of Brits in June 2018 to 50% in December). Accordingly, concern over the economy shot up from 29% to 41% of Brits over the same period. I guess since the entire country is fed-up with hearing ‘the B word’, that there is little or no surprise with a feeling of concern. However, beyond a nod towards Brexit, the more worrying part of the report found that 29% of Brits have “little or no financial knowledge” (rising to 44% among 16- to 24-year-olds), while 82% with credit card debt also have unsecured debt elsewhere.

The report seems to show that consumers appear to be more enamoured with short-term gains – buying holidays, gadgets and experiences – at the expense of longer-term financial stability.

The research, which is part of OMD’s Future of Britain initiative, is designed to offer insights into the “real Britain”. It examines how Brits plan, spend, prioritise and save, and the ramifications of their behaviour for brands.

An attitude that favours gratification is a boon for many brands, as it means that they can expect healthy levels of consumer spending on goods and services – at least at present. But the report’s authors suggest that marketers be sensitive to consumer unease and consider carefully how a culture of short-termism might impact long-term prospects. As the Internet sales revolution is generally the domain of the young, this concern strikes me as very justified.

The research also revealed that only 21% of parents actively engage with their children on financial subjects – such as saving, debt and borrowing – so there is certainly a bigger role that parents, and peers can play to educate them better.

So, knowing that instant gratification is sought, manufacturers encourage and need this approach to support their sales, and people (especially the young) need educating. So how do we address this need?

Financial education needs to be included in the school curriculum. Parents need to be ‘trained’ to then educate their children in practical financial matters at home. Yes, this all takes time and money, but ultimately a society that fails to plan, plans to fail!

Richmond House Wealth Management have recently started to try to see what we (in our own small way) can do to assist on such matters by commencing a series of sessions for schools to try to educate and get youngsters (whom are after all the next generation of earners and will to a degree be supporting all of us), to think and plan in practical ways.

Be proactive, ask your children’s school or grandchildren’s school what financial education preparation they are offering to both students and parents? If enough people ask, then something will happen.

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Neil Dainton Dip PFS