OpinionDec 24 2015

Is Christmas more valuable than retirement advice?

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Is Christmas more valuable than retirement advice?

This is a time of year where spending is probably front of most people’s minds.

In an interview I saw recently, the teams behind some of the biggest Christmas adverts discussed the fact that planning for their Christmas campaigns begins almost immediately in the new year.

So there’s 11 months of planning for 130 seconds of the festive feel good factor; and it’s not cheap either.

There’s been quite a lot of discussion around the amount of money companies are spending on festive ads and whether or not it would be better spent elsewhere.

It’s all got me thinking: there are some things we’ll plan for well in advance of them happening that we don’t mind spending money on, and then there are other things we don’t.

The average Brit will spend about £530 on Christmas, so there’s an opportunity to think about where and how people spend their money.

A survey this year found that on average people are willing to spend just £253 on at retirement advice, which doesn’t seem like much, given this advice could have consequences that last 20, 30 or even 40 years.

But perhaps it’s a sign of the times and there just isn’t that much disposable income around?

I’m not so sure, as spending in other areas doesn’t seem to have slowed. The average person spends £787 on alcohol in a year, which is three times the amount they will spend on financial advice at retirement.

But that’s not all: Brits that participate in sports and hobbies spend an average £678 per year and keen coffee drinkers spend £393 per year on it alone.

This spending might be something we can all understand; after all it is money being spent on items that are very real and tangible and ultimately help us enjoy our day-to-day lives.

But when you consider that Brits will spend an average of £416 on the lottery and scratch cards each year – where the results are anything but guaranteed – you really need to question; why don’t people value financial advice?

What people choose to spend their money on is of course entirely up to them. But the fact is most people are willing to spend any disposable income they have on anything but advice.

Good financial advice, be it for retirement or not, need not cost the earth. It could however, make a big difference to how people enjoy their lives longer term, especially if we want to be able to go on enjoying our hobbies, coffee or tipple of choice when we retire.

Next year’s review of the financial advice market may hopefully start to address some of these issues.