One in five UK adults has no financial goals

Published by Hannah Nemeth on 24 May 2018.
Last updated on 24 May 2018

Looking through a telescope

Over half of adults in the UK plan their lives only days or weeks ahead, with one in five people having no financial goals at all, new research has revealed.

A poll by wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin found that 31% of people plan just days ahead while 23% think in terms of weeks. Only 14% plan for the years ahead and a paltry 4% plan their life in terms of decades.

When asked about financial goals, 20% have no goals at all. The top financial goals for those who listed them are saving for a rainy day (43%); earning more money (32%); saving for a special occasion (21%); reducing or clearing debts (19%); buying property (17%); and paying off the mortgage (17%).

More than two in five people (44%) see travel as their main ambition for the future, followed by eating well (40%), getting fit (39%), more time with family and friends (36%) and a better work/life balance (20%).

However, a third (33%) believe money is the main thing stopping them from achieving their life goals, followed by a lack of motivation (28%) and no time (26%) or energy (26%).

When asked what affected their general wellbeing, 62% sees health as the main factor, followed by family (59%) and finances (42%).

As part of its new Life Stories campaign, the wealth manager asked 500 people to write a letter to show how they envisage their future lives in a bid to uncover what really matters to people – it revealed that health and happiness were more important than wealth.

It is now urging people to write their own letter to themselves to say how they see life panning out and to give them the impetus to focus on their long-term life goals.

Liz Alley, divisional director of financial planning at Brewin Dolphin, says: “I’m not surprised by the findings that family, health and happiness are central pillars for people’s wellbeing. What is surprising is how unprepared most people are in planning to achieve their life goals.

"The findings point to the need for people to plan decades ahead and carve out the lives they want for themselves and their families. This is especially important for younger adults who have more years to make small changes now that can help them reach their future aspirations. 

"Visualising the far-future isn’t always easy and humans don’t always make rational choices when powerful emotions are at play. We recognise this human trait as we help clients plan their future lives.

"Our research shows that over half of the UK population plan their lives only days or weeks ahead. Modern life is very immediate, however. If you envisage specific things in the years ahead, you’ll need to put a series of practical steps in place to achieve your life goals.”

Nine in 10 shun financial advice

Separate research published earlier this week reveals that only one in 10 people uses a financial adviser to help them manage their finances.

Despite the small numbers seeking advice, pension provider Aegon’s poll of 909 people aged 18-plus showed an improvement on research it carried out in October 2016 when only 8% spoke to an adviser.

Almost half (47%) now say they make financial decisions on their own, while 40% say they make decisions with their partner or spouse.

Alarmingly, even at retirement almost a third (32%) of retirees going into income drawdown, where they will manage their income, do not use an adviser.

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