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Investor overconfidence stops them seeking advice: Unbiased

Investor overconfidence stops them seeking advice: Unbiased

Around 40 per cent of adults who do not take advice say it is because they are confident they can already make the best financial decisions for themselves, according to research from Unbiased and Metlife.

Although cost is often cited as a major factor that puts people off seeking advice, only 11 per cent said it was the main reason to not seek expert help with their finances.

Opinium Research was commissioned to survey a nationally representative group of over 2,000 UK adults, found that a further 14 per cent of people do not believe they are even suitable to receive advice, while 6 per cent rely entirely on free online information.

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The study did find that many of those who have never sought advice would consider doing so in the future, with certain incentives making them more likely to do so.

These included being given a real cash figure that the advice would help them achieve (14 per cent), knowing the overall cost of advice up front (12 per cent) and being able to access some introductory information from advisers online (10 per cent).

Using retirement planning as an example, Metlife suggested that those who receive professional financial advice could have had on average £48,279 more for their retirement than those who did not.

This was based upon a pension pot of £100,000, estimating the total increase as a result of saving an additional £71 per month from 40 to 65 years of age, accounting for charges of 0.5 per cent per annum, tax relief of 20 per cent and investment growth of 5 per cent per annum.

Separate research by Unbiased among 166 advisers on its directory in March found that 88 per cent believed the growth in basic guidance resources, particularly on retirement options, will see more people coming to professional advice for the next steps in their financial planning.

Karen Barrett, chief executive of Unbiased, said that while confidence is a good thing, overconfidence can do more harm than good.

“People can and should feel empowered to make financial choices for themselves, but that empowerment should include knowing when to call on professional expertise.

“Life-changing sums of money may be at stake if people don’t make wise financial decisions, so those taking a DIY approach to these critical choices may well live to regret it.”

She continued that a general sense of financial confidence is not at all the same as an in-depth knowledge and experience of financial products, allowances, regulations and “what if?” scenarios.

“A non-specialist can’t possibly be expected to keep on top of all that. Professional advisers make it their business to know these things and can tailor plans accordingly – and these plans provide people with true confidence that they are doing the very best they can with their money.”

peter.walker@ft.com