By Claire West
Taking place from Monday 26 November, Financial Planning Week is the national campaign organised each year by the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), its members and supporters to raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance of financial planning.
Through the website www.financialplanningweek.org.uk the public have access to tips, tools and guidance on how to improve their financial "fitness".
The survey, which was conducted by YouGov for Financial Planning Week in association with Liontrust questioned over 1,000 people across Britain. It discovered that:
Just 19% of respondents say that they rarely or never worry about money
Only 13% of respondents say that their household financial circumstances have got a lot or a bit better over the past six months
While 40% are not making any New Year's resolution for 2013 when it comes to managing their money whatsoever, 30% of Brits said that they would be likely to reduce their monthly spending. Only 4% say that they intend to contribute more or start contributions towards a pension.
The survey results highlight a marked difference in the time people now spend worrying about money, with 80% of respondents indicating they worry about money compared with 60% last year*. The percentage of people who now rarely worry about money has dropped to 16%, compared with 35%* of those surveyed for Financial Planning Week in 2011.
When we add to this the fact that just 13% of respondents say that their household's financial circumstances have got a bit or a lot better over the past six months, the outlook remains very bleak for the majority of Brits.
As the Christmas period approaches, the challenge to make ends meet becomes even tougher particularly as people face the prospect of pay freezes, the fear of unemployment, the possibility of a triple dip recession and New Year price hikes in key areas like fuel and transport costs.
According to the old proverb, "He who fails to plan, plans to fail". So, given the tough economic climate at the moment, are people failing to plan? From this research, this answer appears to be "yes".
While money may be tight, one of the key benefits of Financial Planning is to help ensure that any money that families have coming in, is put to work more efficiently. This could be a simple adjustment on spending habits to reorganising savings and investments to make them work harder. Even the most basic Financial Planning assessment can help identify unused tax relief as well as potentially free up cash for essential insurance cover and increasing pension contributions, no matter how small.
With 40% of Brits reporting that they are not making any new year resolutions when it comes to managing their money for 2013, people are clearly concentrating more on the present rather than planning for their future. It's encouraging that 30% are planning to reduce their monthly spending in 2013, 20% are planning to save more each month and 19% are looking to pay off credit cards or other debt. Worryingly however, just 6% are planning to make sure that their family would be protected in the case of unforeseen events such as long term sickness or premature death and just 4% are planning to contribute more towards or start contributions towards a pension.
Nick Cann, CEO of IFP comments: "Whilst it is easy to focus on some of the more negative points coming out of surveys such as this one, I take great encouragement from those people who are seeing improvement in their Financial Planning situation and who are taking positive steps and actions to achieve these improvements. There are massive changes ahead for everybody in 2013, with the biggest shake up in financial services regulation we have seen for decades. Positive action is going to be needed. Financial Planners can give people the all important context they need around money as well as the inspiration and direction to help them to achieve their goals."
John Ions, Chief Executive of Liontrust comments: "People work hard to earn money and the current difficult working environment with high unemployment causes concern for many. It is not difficult to understand why so many people who are struggling to make ends meet today have little focus on tomorrow. This is why it is so important to communicate the message that doing something now is vital to provide more security in later years. Understanding this, and having trust and confidence in the course of action they are taking, will provide a more comfortable and secure environment in retirement."
Rebecca Taylor FIFP, CFPCM, President of IFP and Managing Director of Dunham Financial Services comments: "As we've recently emerged from a double dip recession, it's no surprise to see that so many people are worried about their finances. However, I am surprised to see that more people are not preparing to do something to improve that position. Financial Planning isn't just for the wealthy, it's for everyone. These are very tough times but that just means it's more important than ever to take control of your finances - and not let them control you. Financial Planning Week aims to help people realise how they can make significant improvements to their finances by taking some simple steps. I'm very proud that the IFP is yet again leading this positive consumer awareness campaign to help people do just that. "
The campaign aims to encourage people to take action to improve their financial "fitness" and help them achieve the life they want. It also helps them to find good quality professional Financial Planning advice that they can trust, should they require it. The website www.financialplanningweek.org.uk contains details, including practical tips, tools and information people can use. This is the fifth consecutive year that the IFP has organised Financial Planning Week.