SOLLA News and Views

11 January 2022

Members Update: I don’t want to talk about it!

Free member only content

It seems it’s not only Rod Stewart who is reluctant to talk about certain things, for recently the Sun newspaper reported on a study of 2,000 UK adults1, which found that found 35% think money is a more awkward subject to discuss than health problems and more than a quarter struggle to open up to friends about finances.

The study, which was unaccredited, and carried out by OnePoll, noted that more than a third of respondents struggle to talk to anyone about money issues - with one in ten not even willing to discuss finances with their partner. It also found that the approach to asking for advice from family members differs considerably between the generations. A third (33%) of those aged 35-44 are open to advice from their parents compared to just 11% of the over-65s who are willing to receive the same support from their children. People aged 75 and over are even more guarded when it comes to their finances – with 59% agreeing money is a private matter. More than four in ten (42%) of the same age group said talking about financial issues is difficult as it can be an embarrassing subject. Other reasons given for not talking about finances were a fear of being accused of flaunting wealth to those worse off, making others jealous, making people feel insecure and causing arguments. In consequence, while the study found 55% of adults agree people should be more open when it comes to talking about money, with just 6% opposed to the notion, it appears that the average person speaks to just two people before making big financial choices.

The research also found younger adults are more reluctant to discuss their financial woes than the older age groups. Three in five (66%) 18 to 24-year-olds would rather talk about health issues than money - compared to just 21% of those aged 65 to 74. This is despite nearly a third (32%) of all adults believe we are more open as a country when it comes to discussing finances than 20 years ago and eight in ten adults aged 65 and over saying they feel confident in their own ability to make important financial decisions by themselves.

Decisions about inheritance (31%), buying a home (33%) and writing a will (39%) were the financial decisions 65 to 74-year-olds were most likely to discuss with others. For the over-75s, taking out an equity release plan (30%) was more likely to be a topic for discussion than deciding how to leave an inheritance (28%). Although another generational divide emerges when it comes to avoiding conflict around the issue. Two thirds of 18-to-24-year-olds said speaking about money with family or friends leads to arguments - but this figure falls to just 23% of 55 to 64-year-olds. A third (33%) of over-65s find it hard to discuss their financial security with their children while 46% of those aged 35 to 44 feel it is a difficult topic to raise with their parents.

A spokesman for Key Retirement was reported as saying, “It's worrying that so many people feel unable to talk about their money worries, especially as they get older and it becomes a bit of a taboo subject for many and is considered as something which shouldn’t be spoken about. Because there are many things which are easier to both handle and understand if shared among family members and close friends and there are some key financial decisions in life which family often need to be involved in. Conversations with family are important especially if they need to make choices around things like retirement incomes, accessing pensions or housing or inheritance.

From an advisor perspective it seems that an increasing misplaced consumer confidence in their ability to plan for their financial futures is only matched by a lack of information and understanding as to what their choices and potential decision are, coupled with a reluctance to even talk about the issue. I can only echo the Key spokesperson who went on to add that “families must be able to improve their finances and make the right decisions for their circumstances without feeling a burden or constrained". I think this bears out the theme that underpins all our ambitions at SOLLA, in that  one of the key roles of the SOLLA accredited adviser, in encouraging the client to open up as to their financial hopes and fears and then to support them in making the right timely decisions going forward, cannot be underestimated.

Peter Barnett
SOLLA Advisory Board Chair  

1 Cash Woes. Sarah Grealish. Sun Newspaper - 29 Dec 2021.