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UK public call for end to financial jargon and for greater transparency on Government spending

UKSIF

New research reveals over three quarters (77%) of the public want clearer and simpler financial information from Government

  • 81% of respondents would like to see financial institutions do more to communicate clearly
  • Almost half (45%) of people have been confused when receiving financial information
  • Public frequently do not understand the meaning of everyday financial terms including ISAs and Credit Unions
  • Financial options lagging behind other sustainable and ethical choices: only 1 in 5 people say that sustainable and ethical finance options are easily found
  • Public want more transparency about Government spending on energy infrastructure (53%) and on climate change initiatives (46%)

London, 20 October 2014 – An independent poll by YouGov – commissioned by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) ahead of Good Money Week (19th – 25th October) – reveals that a large majority of the British public (77%) think that the Government should do more to report financial information clearly, and 81% said the same of financial institutions.

The research demonstrated that many respondents were confused by common financial terms, and would not be able to explain how an ISA (27%), Credit Union (55%) or Sustainable Investments (77%) work. Almost one in five people (19%) said that they could not explain what a bank was.

Simon Howard, Chief Executive, UKSIF said

“People want to make good money choices that take into account the issues that matter to them, whether it be their own long-term financial security, safeguarding the environment or a combination of both. If, as our research indicates, people don’t feel completely comfortable with everyday financial terms and don’t feel that the financial information they receive is easily understood, making informed decisions is virtually impossible.”

UKSIF’s poll demonstrated that young people were the most likely to feel confused when making financial decisions. When asked about the last time they received financial advice from a bank or financial adviser, only 22% of 18-24 year olds felt that information was clearly presented and they were sure about the decision they were making, compared to 39% of over 60s.

The poll showed that financial options fall far behind sectors such as food, clothing and transport when it comes to making choices about sustainable and ethical living.  65% of respondents said that ethical food options were easy to find, and 38% found it easy to find ethical clothing options – compared to only 22% who said the same of financial services.

The research also demonstrated that people would like to see more Government transparency on key areas of spending including healthcare (69%), energy infrastructure (53%), employment initiatives (53%), transport infrastructure (49%) and climate change initiatives (46%). When asked more about climate change, the majority had the view that public funds should be spent on sustainable energy sources such as solar (54%), biogas and energy from waste (46%) and wind power (43%). Only 19% thought that the Government should use public funds on fracking.

Despite these concerns and a preference for spending on sustainability, 77% are not sure what sustainable investments means and 69% are unaware they have sustainable and ethical options when it comes to their own financial product choices such as savings and pensions.

Lisa Stonestreet, Programme Director and Good Money Week Project Manager, UKSIF, said:

“These results indicate Government and financial institutions are failing to offer clear and simple information about the issues that matter to consumers and constituents particularly those related to sustainability.

 “This is why Good Money Week is calling on Government to produce a Sustainable Spending Scorecard to collate the vast swathes of sustainability-related financial information they generate into a digestible form that will be more accessible and easier to comprehend for the general public.”

Charles Middleton, Managing Director, Triodos Bank said:

“We’ve found clear demand for more ethical investment; for instance half (51%) of investors would like to see more of their investments and pension invested in renewable energy. At the same time, two thirds (64%) of investors are still in the dark about the activities that their funds or pensions invest in, and therefore may well be investing in areas they are ethically opposed to[1]. It highlights a need for greater transparency, supporting the results of Good Money Week’s poll and their call for simple, accessible information about spending on sustainability.”

 

Ends

Interviews:

For interview requests and any more information please contact Lisa Stonestreet at UKSIF on 020 7749 9950, lisa.stonestreet@uksif.org.  

Notes to editors:

Methodology
The Good Money Week poll was conducted by YouGov. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,155 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th - 7th October 2014.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

[1]Triodos Bank research
4,013 people (aged 18+) were interviewed online on behalf of Triodos Bank by Opinium Research between 23 and  29 September 2014. Weighted to a nationally representative criteria. Of those. 1869 have some sort of investment product.

About Good Money Week
Good Money Week (19-25 October 2014) is an annual campaign to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance to help people make good money choices. Good Money Week brings together individuals, financial advisers, charities, faith, community and student groups and financial institutions to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable and ethical investment and finance. Good Money Week 2014 is sponsored by Barrow Cadbury Trust, CCLA, Ecclesiastical Investment Management, Standard Life Investments and Triodos. Good Money Week was previously known as National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW). For more information, please visit www.goodmoneyweek.com.

About the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF)
UKSIF supports the UK finance sector as a global leader in advancing sustainable development through financial services. We promote and support responsible investment and other forms of finance that advance sustainable economic development, enhance quality of life and safeguard the environment. Founded in 1991, UKSIF has approximately 250 members and affiliates including pension funds, asset managers, research providers, financial advisers, banks and non-governmental organisations. For more information, please visit www.uksif.org.