We need to talk about savings: it’s time to break the taboo

Toby Triebel
28 August 2018

I am not a big fan of avocado on toast. Whether served for breakfast, or used as a catch-all phrase to talk about millennial spending habits, I find it lacks substance. 

People of all ages have trouble saving money – not just millennials. And it doesn’t help that we get bombarded daily with news on wage growth slowing, rent in London sky rocketing or the latest round of rail ticket price increases.

The barriers to getting started with planning for your financial future are not insignificant. When Wealthsimple polled over 2,000 adults in the UK, we found that 77% do not invest in the stock market in any way. Around 47% of those surveyed don’t think they have enough money to get started, while 49% of millennials (18-34 year olds) say they don’t have the tools or knowledge to consider investing.

There is another important factor to consider in the UK: namely, that people do not talk openly about their money. It is such a taboo topic that close to two fifths of respondents said they would rather reveal their weight or political leaning, than talk about their finances.

All these factors mean that people who work in the financial services industry must help savers to understand the benefits of long term investing. 

No more jargon

Most people aren’t scanning the stock market pages on their daily commute and shouldn’t require a degree in finance to access smart financial services.

For too long financial services companies have been able to hide behind complicated language, opaque fee structures and clunky products to convince people that investing is complicated. When people are left feeling intimidated and confused, is it any wonder that so many people feel locked out of investing?

We need to break the taboo and help people to feel comfortable when it comes to talking about money. As an industry, we need to speak with people in a smart, sensible and most importantly a human way. This is because everyone has anxiety about getting things right when it comes to their finances.

In my opinion, the only way forward is to make things more transparent. This means declaring a war on jargon, offering simple but smart advice on getting started and using content to tell interesting stories about money – not just about where oil prices are going next quarter or how a company fared in its last trading update. 

Technology also has a role to play in changing our relationship with money. Embracing a tech-first approach will allow you to approach your finances in the same way you would order groceries or book a taxi using your mobile phone.

Last month the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), a trade body, declared that 80% of people were not saving enough for their retirement. If this trend continues, and some 30 million people retire without enough money to live a healthy and happy life, the UK could face a social crisis. 

If we can begin to change the discussion about money in this country, we can help to deliver a strong financial future to millions of people. Or we can keep having a go at young people for enjoying breakfast with their friends.

It’s up to us: let’s make a change.

Toby Triebel is chief executive (Europe) for digital wealth manager Wealthsimple