Financial education programmes focus too much on providing cold, hard facts, and should aim to overcome peoples emotional and behavioural obstacles if they are to be successful.
31 MAY 2017 | CHRIS SEEKINGS
That is according to a group of communication experts and psychologists, who say that disinterest in financial information and a lack of savings discipline are barriers to people acting on the information provided in such programmes.
This comes after it was found that three-quarters of UK employees believe improved financial education would significantly help them cope with life issues like planning for retirement.
"Behavioural characteristics and emotion play a far bigger role in our dealings with money than we might think," like minds director, Nick Throp, said. "We need to look beyond providing factual information and engage with people before we educate them.
"After decades of failing to engage people in saving and managing their money into retirement, employers and the financial services industry need to apply more emotional intelligence to their communications."
The study was based on in-depth interviews and a survey of over 1,000 people, showing that 'huge human behaviour challenges' need to be addressed for financial education initiatives to gain a positive response.
One such challenge found, was that some people struggle to see into the future more than others, with the researchers identifying a division of personalities between 'impulsives' and 'planners'.
These character traits commonly affect attitudes to work, sleep and exercise routines as well as savings habits, with impulsives less likely to be actively saving for their retirement.
"However odd it sounds, a central part of us doesn't believe we're going to get old," School of Life chairman, Alain de Botton, said. "There are evolutionary reasons for our limited horizons - our distant ancestors had far less certainty about their future lives and the need to plan."
The researchers concluded that giving real-life meaning to saving, and triggering an emotional response through words, pictures and music which stimulate ideas and lifetime goals, could be a way of improving financial education programmes.
"Human emotions need to be much more front of mind when designing our financial products and communications with people. Employers and providers have an important role to play here, and can reap the rewards of thinking about financial wellness in a different way," de Botton added.