Increasing numbers of employees are concerned that they will never be able to afford to retire. Whose responsibility is it to help staff better plan for their future?
As far as the government is concerned, even children are not too young to start familiarising themselves with their finances. Since September 2014, all secondary school pupils have had ‘money literacy’ lessons as part of their citizenship curriculum. Kids learn everything from managing their money to planning for future financial decisions, and it’s not difficult to see why. According to research by Cambridge University, spending habits are usually formed by the age of seven, including knowing the difference between luxuries and necessities, and how some spending choices are irreversible. With average credit card debt now at £2,346 (source TheMoneyCharity.org), the intention is clear: learning about money as early as possible could make a big difference to people’s lives.
All of which starkly brings into perspective the role employers should play too. Staff work to earn money, but should bosses really be responsible for how they spend it? Employees are all adults – what they do with their money is up to them. Isn’t it?
Staff may want financial awareness, but if the results of the Aon/Reward survey are reflective of the national picture, the vast majority of employers don’t yet want to turn the employer-employee paternalistic one.
A massive 77% do not offer any access to financial advice [advice that is regulated, and provided by outsourced suppliers], while only 13% offer advice that is free to staff. The picture is not much better when it comes to providing financial education. Most (55%) offer no financial education at all, and only 21% offered it to staff, for free, at any point in their career.
More positive is the fact around a fifth of respondents said they were ‘undecided’ if financial awareness was solely an individuals’ responsibility – perhaps indicating a thawing around the edges. Over half (54%) also said they would spend more on financial education this coming year/18 months compared to last.
Now a genuine debate about responsibility for financial awareness has been started (and is unlikely to stop), perhaps future conversations will be more about how employers and employees can work in partnership, so that responsibility is jointly taken, and for the benefit of both parties.
To read more, and join the conversation about whose responsibility financial awareness is, download Reward and Aon Employee Benefits’ free In-Depth Guide To Financial Education And Advice. CLICK HERE to download the guide.