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Andy Manson

Chief Marketing Officer, Aegon

Being financially resilient and avoiding debt is often seen as the equivalent of financial wellbeing. But it is more than this – all of us would benefit from changing how we think about money to live happier, healthier lives.

Traditionally, the financial services industry has prioritised help and advice to people dealing with immediate issues such as managing debt, emergency savings and making the most of their investments. All of which is important but doesn’t address the wider challenge faced by everyone.

Understanding the role of money in your life, what brings you joy, what makes you feel confident, competent and worthwhile are all critical considerations driving mental health and financial wellbeing.

Building resilience

People are leading healthier and longer lives, but this has consequences for how we ensure the money lasts and supports the lifestyles we aspire to.

Aegon, one of the nation’s top providers of workplace pensions and supporters of financial advisers, is looking to widen the conversation about financial wellbeing from the findings of its flagship piece of research conducted in 2020 and 2021.

The survey questioned 10,000 respondents in the UK covering a wide range of demographics such as people from differing regions, age groups, gender, ethnicity and economic statuses.

Being financially well

Andy Manson, Chief Marketing Officer, says: “We felt the way financial wellbeing was being discussed previously was a bit narrow, focusing primarily on those with debt problems as opposed to addressing the wider issue of everyone’s relationship with money.”

“A lot of the work on financial wellbeing has focused on how we help people build resilience with the solution being to organise your money better and have more of it. Our research shows that your mindset has an equally important part to play.

“Most people know that they should save both for the short and long term, manage their debt and be ready for any financial emergencies that arise. However, just providing them with information is not helping them directly address the problems if they find it hard. There is a disconnect between knowing what to do and doing it. We need to focus on practical interventions here to help people manage their money better.”

With the cost of living crisis deepening in the UK, the company works closely with services, such as MoneyHelper, to support those who are struggling day to day.

People are leading healthier and longer lives.

Addressing the mindset dimension

Being bogged down by trying to keep up with the Jones’ and not having a view of what gives us joy and purpose in our lives translates into financial decisions which can often cause significant harm to mental health.

All of this suggests that, to improve financial wellbeing, much more needs done than just sorting out people’s finances.

Improving financial wellbeing

Aegon is incorporating financial wellbeing into its services, working closely with employers, advisers and clients to spread the positive mindset messaging.

Their website has a simple online quiz to find out your own financial wellbeing scores and identify personalised areas for improvement.

This is supported by tools such as ‘Picture Your Best Life’ which allows users to create a retirement vision by uploading photos that capture things like where they want to live and what sort of hobbies they might be doing in retirement. This is seen as having a significant impact on savings habits today.

Manson concludes: “Financial wellbeing is a very real issue for everyone – for some it is about working out how to survive day to day given the current challenges in our communities. But for many others it is about fundamentally changing mindset. Our relationship with money has to change. We need to recognise that not every problem is solved by having more of it – we also need to question its role in our lives and to never lose sight of what truly makes us happy.”

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