By Maximilian Clarke

People are twice as likely to take a risk with their health than with their wealth or career, a study into the nation's attitude towards risk by AXA Wealth has found

The research has revealed that nearly a fifth (18%) of people are likely to take risks with their health over and above any other area of their life. This is twice the number who would take a risk with their money, with people equally cautious when it comes to taking a risk with their career (both 9%).

Generation X (35-44 years old) is the age group which takes the most risks when it comes to both money and health. Just under a quarter (22%) typically take the greatest risks with their health, compared to just 13% for the 18-24 year olds. Ironically, the research also showed that over a quarter (27%) of those who find taking a risk stressful would wait until something was seriously wrong before visiting the doctors.

When it comes to money, the study also shows that gender and age play a part, with men being nearly twice as likely to take a risk with their finances than women. Additionally, the younger generations (18-34) are the most cautious with their money, despite having the time to be risky, while 35-44 year olds are the most risky age group.

Mike Morrison, AXA Wealth, commented: “It is interesting to see that people are willing to take more risks with their health than their money and career. The most important thing is to understand your appetite to risk and apply it across all areas of your life, where suitable. While people appear reluctant to be too risky when it comes to finances, they must be aware that some level of risk is often necessary to make a good return on an initial investment.

“This is particularly true of the younger generations because not taking a risk can impact on the growth of their money, as they should be looking to improve on their returns and reach their financial goals. It is essential that people take the time to properly consider where it is appropriate to take risks so as to avoid disappointing or detrimental results. This is a rule which should be applied not only to finances but all areas of their life including health and career. If people have any doubt regarding their financial risk appetite, they should seek professional advice.”

The findings come as part of AXA Wealth Self, a detailed study into people’s perceived attitude to risk, compared to their actual attitude to risk. Among other things, the study asked consumers to answer a variety of questions around attitudes and behaviour, to show whether this parallels with their investment risk attitude. Consumers were also required to rate their appetite to risk between one and seven, with seven being the riskiest. A ‘disconnect’ was then calculated between ‘perceived’ and ‘actual’ attitude to risk for each respondent.

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