Someone needs to step up to advise Mr & Mrs Average

Gil Cardy

I did not mean debt counselling, financial education, or basic information about bank accounts or credit cards, for example.

The Office of National Statistics was my source and I summarised my findings in a document entitled Advising Mr & Mrs Average.

I figure an update is overdue, as it is now more relevant than ever with current strident arguments about the advice gap and online advice delivery.

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In what follows, financial wealth is quoted net of debt, is measured by household, includes assets held by children but excludes property and mortgages.

Around 25 per cent of households had negative net financial wealth. This may mean that they are not in the market for any sort of financial advice or it may suggest there is a strong case for providing core life and income protection advice for these households.

However, demonstrating affordability and prioritising insurance above clearing expensive debt and implementing at least emergency savings plans could be problematic, especially when half of all households have non-mortgage debt averaging £7300.

The mean total of formal household financial assets now stands at around £46,600. But it is very clear from data broken down into median and mean figures, that there is a massive skew in asset distribution among UK households.

Ten per cent of households have net financial wealth of £-17,300. In stark contrast, the mean net financial wealth for the top 10 per cent of households was £277,700. The south east is the wealthiest region, and the wealthiest households are those with one person over and one under state pension age with no children. The wealthiest individuals are educated to degree level or above, and are either self-employed or retired.

The advice gap started when direct and industrial branch sales forces were decimated. I have no idea how to deliver good and reliable financial advice online. MAS is a disaster. Meanwhile, Citizens Advice Bureaux and debt counselling charities ought to be better supported than they are.

But when regulators and politicians examine our claims about the advice gap and hear how we talk about building propositions, money, and targeting new clients, could they be forgiven for thinking that at least some of the advice gap is of our own making?

Gill Cardy is network development director of ValidPath