Today marks the start of Financial Planning Week 2010. This is the third in a series of annual events co-ordinated by the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) that aims to “….raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance of planning personal finances”.
On the same day comes two reports on the state of financial planning in the UK.
The first from Standard Life and Life Academy called 'Everyone Needs a Plan', shows that only 51% of those asked currently save and a staggering 28% actually actively choose not to put money aside for the future.
Nick Cann, CEO of the IFP said 'This new report couldn't be more appropriately titled. It is clear that there has never been a more important time for people to take control of their lives by planning their finances more effectively, and getting into the good habit of saving money is one of the more crucial.'
To encourage and make saving easier the report calls for the tax and savings system to be simplified, ensure the success of pension auto enrolment, invest in financial education and financial literacy as well as recognising that people cannot do this on their own.
The second report comes from 2084 people questioned online by YouGov. Of these 59% said they were worried about their finances and only 3% said they never worried about money, which is down from 12% only a year ago.
A very optimistic 33% said that they hoped to improve their finances by winning the lottery!
What came over was the distinct wariness of putting money anywhere other than a bank or building society savings account. Only 10% would invest in global equities and 14% in UK equities.
Most tellingly only 14% of those asked had clear financial goals, compared to 26% in 2008.
Much of the reticence and uncertainty amongst the population that these reports indicate may though stem from the recent financial and economic upheaval. With fewer people being in a position to do anything about saving.
But there is another worry. That the FSA, in its bid to clean up the markets, has made it difficult for good IFAs to advertise and operate in a cost effective manner. Imposing ever stricter guidelines and practices forcing many good IFAs to decide that enough is enough.
And then there's the general perception that the state, whatever it says, will stump up in the end or risk losing votes by having pensioners living on the streets. Remember the grey vote is also expanding in proportion to the rest of society so no political party can play games with them.
With so much competition for peoples' money (especially the young) who can blame people for taking the holiday or new car instead of opting to save in an ISA or pension that will probably be raided by the government anyway.
Until the economy stabilises and the financial world is as transparent as it should be then there may well be little change.