How well do we manage our finances?

News & Insights

Sandy Macdonald

26th July 2017 at 12:45pm

Many of us like to think we have a decent level of understanding about how we manage our finances.

Mortgages, savings, banking and managing credit and debt usually seem straightforward enough. APR loan rates and pensions might be a bit trickier, and stock market returns are something we might want experts to take care of for us.

We have a responsibility to do more than just ‘tell’ people about their pension. We want to do what we can to help as many of them as possible have the best chance of a solid financial future.

What about those who struggle, either because they don’t understand how finances work, have mental health issues or are going through a major life event such as divorce or bereavement and simply can’t think straight?

And as the Mind charity says, with 1 in 4 people likely to experience mental health issues, we’re either likely to be affected by this ourselves, or our family and friends will be.

Having hearing problems means they could find it difficult to talk to a call centre.

And what about dyslexia – it’s far from unusual – and other brain differences which make it harder for people to read words or understand numbers – things that many of us take for granted.

Late-stage Alzheimer’s may make it impossible for someone to look after themselves, never mind their money – and those with the condition can easily fall victim to scams.

It’s something you’ll know all too well if you have a relative with dementia or memory loss.

All too often, the result is debt and stress.

It’s something we all need to understand – and take steps to do what we can to help.

There are things we can we do about it

Sandy MacDonald, Head of Sustainability at Standard Life, explains: “We can do more to help customers. What we are doing is making sure we really understand the issues, changing the way we do some things on the back of that, and pointing people in the right direction for more support if they need it.”

How? Firstly by making sure how we communicate with our customers is clear and easy to understand.

It’s particularly important when you look at Office of National Statistics figures which show that half of the UK working population has a reading age of an 11-year-old or younger.

Offering braille onto our letters and using bigger type size for those struggling to read text will clearly make things better for those who need it.

We must take the same approach and make everything as accessible as possible on our websites, online tools and calculators, so that all our customers have the best chance of understanding what they’re reading and get information in a way that works for them.

For some, it might be talking on the phone.

Find out more about our approach to accessibility.

Tackling debt, fraud money management

Of course it’s about much more than this. We have a responsibility to do more than just ‘tell’ people about their pension. We want to do what we can to help as many of them as possible have the best chance of a solid financial future.

This includes being clear and helpful in how we guide them around how to plan their retirement income, and what they need to consider when they start to take their pension savings, invest or change their investments.

These things can have a big impact on their long-term finances, and it’s why we’re very supportive of PensionWise, the government-backed organisation which offers people independent expertise.

Our MoneyPlus blog gives tips on budgeting, debt management and saving. We regularly highlight the risks of fraud and scams and what steps you can take to try to keep your money, including your life savings, safe.

There is yet more we can do.

Where you can go for more support

If someone you know is struggling – or if you are – where can you get support?

Citizens Advice offers online and face-to-face help, the Money Advice Service has a range of online information, and Step Change is a national debt counselling service.

Most banks now help with financial issues such as debt too.

Later this year, our website will have information for our customers who are struggling with their finances, with links to organisations and charities providing support.

We plan to do more, and we’ll be writing more on this soon.

Money Saving Expert has an excellent online, Free mental health and debt booklet which is useful for anyone who’s having financial problems, whatever the reason.

It goes into detail on where to find more support and how to apply for A Power of Attorney when someone can no longer look after their finances and need someone to do it for them.


The links provided in this blog are for general information purposes only. Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information contained in the sites or for the sites not being available at all times.

This article isn’t financial advice and is based on our understanding in July 2017.