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Financial Services Authority

Young people (18-24)

and their financial
information needs
Prepared for the
Financial Services Authority
by Synovate

September 2004
Financial Services Authority

Young people (18-24) and their financial

information needs

Prepared for the

Financial Services Authority
by Synovate

September 2005

The research project was carried out on behalf of the FSA by Synovate.
It was conducted by Claire Labrum, Phil Spires, Claire Jones and Laura Godfrey.

The research project was managed by Errol Walker at the FSA.

Tel: 020 7066 0814, e-mail: errol.walker@fsa.gov.uk

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the publications section of the FSA website -
FSA Foreword

Last year, John Tiner, Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) launched an
initiative to bring together interested organisations to develop a national strategy for building
financial capability in the UK. His high-level Steering Group (representing government, consumers,
the voluntary sector, business, financial services and the media) identified seven priority areas for
concerted action, and commissioned working groups of key experts to take each of these forward1.

Young adults were identified as one priority area for achieving a step-change, as the transition to
adulthood is a key life stage at which people take responsibility for their finances for the first time.
The Young Adults Working Group is chaired by Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial
Equality, and it plans to publish recommendations in early 2006.

This research was commissioned by the FSA in conjunction with the Working Group, as part of the
Group's programme of research and pilot work.

Other elements of the programme include:

• researching and publishing case studies of organisations already assisting young adults to take
control of their finances2; and

• pilot work with five leading organisations to develop innovative new approaches to engaging
young adults.

The research published here complements earlier FSA work on what influences young people’s
financial behaviour, whether schools are providing pupils with adequate education regarding
finance, and what hopes and fears young people have regarding their financial future3. One of the
findings of this research was that young people stressed that the way financial information is
communicated is crucial to effective engagement – it has to be made interesting and relevant
otherwise it will not be absorbed. Those already involved with such work perceive that the base
level of understanding among young adults grappling with their finances is low, with many school
leavers having an inadequate grasp of even the most basic of money management skills.

FSA, Building Financial Capability in the UK, May 2004
FSA, Helping Young Adults become Financially Capable, June 2005
FSA, Young People and Financial Matters, Consumer Research 25, March 2004
In the wider Financial Capability Strategy, the schools project is working for a step change across UK
schools, while the FSA is undertaking a comprehensive baseline survey due to be published in early
2006, to measure the financial capability of the whole UK population so that we can monitor how
effective our work is4.

Building on the findings of that research and in order to inform further the work of the Young Adults
Working Group, the research published here was commissioned to examine young people's
information needs in relation to personal finance. In particular it looks into how information may be
changed to make it more effective, and explores the structural and psychological barriers that may
make it difficult for financial information or messages to reach young people.

FSA, Measuring Financial Capability: An exploratory study, June 2005

1. Executive summary .......................................................1

2. Background and objectives ..............................................4

2.1 Background....................................................................... 4
2.2 Research objectives ............................................................ 5

3. Methodology and sample .................................................6

3.1 Overview ......................................................................... 6
3.2 Desk research .................................................................... 6
3.3 Ethnographic sessions .......................................................... 6
3.4 Mini-group discussions and triads............................................. 7
3.5 Summary of sample structure ................................................. 7
3.6 Pre-task........................................................................... 9

4 Understanding the youth financial landscape....................... 10

4.1 General attitudes to money ................................................. 10
4.2 Personal circumstances ...................................................... 12
4.3 Hedonists vs. conservatives ................................................. 17
4.4 Ethnicity ........................................................................ 18
4.5 Project Edge: Societal trends ............................................... 19
4.6 Youth financial landscape: Trends and implications .................... 25

5. Identifying financial information needs and gaps in knowledge

for financial transactions .............................................. 26
5.1 Overview ....................................................................... 26
5.2 The basics ...................................................................... 26
5.3 Specific information needs .................................................. 28

6. Current communication, provision and sources of financial

information............................................................... 39
6.1 Parents and the wider personal network.................................. 39
6.2 The bank........................................................................ 40
6.3 The Internet ................................................................... 40
6.4 Financial advisers ............................................................. 40
6.5 Student welfare office ....................................................... 41
7. Perceptions of current financial information ....................... 42
7.1 Written material .............................................................. 42
7.2 The Internet ................................................................... 42
7.3 Intermediaries ................................................................. 44
7.4 Respondent suggested communication .................................... 45
7.5 Levels of understanding, relevance and usefulness of financial
information..................................................................... 46

8. Barriers when delivering financial messages to this audience ... 47

9. Developing financial messages for young adults.................... 49

Appendix 1: Discussion guide for ethnographic sessions ................. 51

Appendix 2: Discussion guide for mini groups and triads................. 59

Appendix 3: Sample structure................................................ 62

Appendix 4: Ethnographic sessions recruitment questionnaire ......... 63

Appendix 5: Mini-groups recruitment questionnaire ...................... 67

Appendix 6: Triad recruitment questionnaire ............................. 73

Appendix 7: Pre-task .......................................................... 79

Appendix 8: Respondent profiles ............................................ 90

Appendix 9: Project edge .................................................... 104

1. Executive summary

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) commissioned research on behalf of the Young Adults Working
Group work stream to examine the financial information needs of the 18-24 age group. The findings
will be used to inform the Financial Capability Strategy. The research took the form of a series of
individual ethnographic sessions with mainstream young adults followed by a series of mini-group
discussions which extended the sample to include ethnic minorities (see Section 3).

In terms of current attitudes towards financial matters, young adults are at an unpredictable time
of life, with many experiencing changing circumstances. Whilst some remain living with parents,
others move out for the first time, go to university or are starting their first job.

Despite these differing circumstances, amongst the respondents overall there was a very low level
of financial knowledge and extremely low levels of engagement with financial information. Within
the younger respondents and those still living at home there was very low understanding of even the
basics relating to terminology and managing finances. We did speak to a small number of
‘conservatives’ (see Section 3.5 for definition) recruited to be more interested in their finances. A
couple of these respondents had high levels of interest in financial information as money and
investments had become a hobby.

When it comes to identifying information needs, many of our respondents felt that financial
decision making did not yet affect them and was something to be considered when you were older.
Across the sample people felt that they would become more engaged from the age of 25 or 30, as
these are landmark ages at which they feel they should have a serious job or have taken on some
adult responsibilities. The first transaction (in reality or by perception) that leads to an in-depth
engagement with the seriousness of financial decision making is buying a house, as this is a lifelong
commitment and therefore of significance. Other decisions relating to banking, loans or other
purchases are seen as minor events and are thus taken lightly, with little consideration of the

In conversation with the respondents it became clear that information gaps do exist in their
knowledge – some of them quite basic. However, they were unable to recognise these themselves,
and it only became obvious through what was omitted.

This basic lack of recognition of information needs is a key finding for the research, and has
significant implications for the Working Group when formulating a strategy moving forward. The
strategy almost needs to take a step back from purely looking at information provision, and focus
instead on ‘repositioning’ the importance of finances with this audience before they are receptive
to the information. This has implications for the approach, tone and style of communications that
will be effective.

Across our sample, those that had sought financial information had only done so when there was a
specific need for it, such as saving up for a holiday or buying a car. It is only at these junctures that
financial communications are noticed and potentially engaged with – although even at these stages
the focus of attention was the outcome (i.e. the purchase) rather than the financial vehicle. There
were often significant gaps in knowledge relating to the various needs, although the respondents
themselves did not always realise this.

In terms of sources of financial information, a key finding of this research was the huge influence
that parents have on this younger generation. Regardless of background or living circumstances,
parents were likely to be the first port of call for information regarding any financial decision. In
many cases they are the only information source, and as such restrict these young adults to a
limited scope of financial possibilities.

Beyond parents, the majority of our sample felt that there were other people whom they could talk
to for advice, including their extended family, friends or others within their personal network. It
was only in the limited cases where parents or their personal network could not provide an answer
or suggested further information sources that wider information was sought, and then information is
felt to be plentiful if somewhat uninteresting and difficult to understand. The challenging nature of
financial material, particularly financial jargon, means that the majority of the respondents
preferred face-to-face advice for all matters, and their natural source of this professional advice is
the bank. The young adults interviewed often were unable, or unwilling to make the effort, to
decipher the material at even the most basic level – they simply did not have the tools or desire to
understand unfamiliar terminology.

For those that had engaged with financial information, current communications material is seen to
be boring in the context of the majority of other communications targeting today’s young adults. It
is often read in a negative light as it is seen as a barrier to the pleasure of spending (again
reinforcing the focus of this generation on the end goal). Current financial information is generally
seen to be difficult to comprehend, boring and in their words “aimed at people older than us”. This
is not necessarily a true representation of the information but of their lack of interest and
competence with the basics in this area. However, essentially the information comes across as too
‘adult’ and there are lessons to be learnt from other youth-orientated communications in terms of
simplicity, clarity, conciseness, lack of jargon and navigability of the material.

This lack of need for information, coupled with young adults’ lack of interest in finances, highlights
that more important than what information should be provided is the issue of how to reach young
adults and how to make them engage with this information. This provides a major challenge for this
age group as there are very few official touch-points for personal interaction with mainstream
young adults.

When asked where they might engage with information, the unanimous answer is via mainstream
communication channels. A website written in an informal style is seen to be the ideal for this
generation who are used to the Internet as an information source. The majority of the sample
quoted Frank5 as a public service information/advice service that had cut through and felt relevant.
Other than websites, the majority struggled to suggest any further information access points.

Schools, Further Education Colleges, Higher Education Centres and Youth Clubs all offer hubs where
young people can come together; however, the research suggests that engagement with financial
information at these sites is limited both in terms of reach and interest. Schools are an important
place to impart the basics, and whilst it may not be digested and truly engaged with at the time,
there is evidence from our research that key messages and key signposts to information are retained
until needed in adult life. Higher Education Centres provide a key contact point for students who
are often living away from home and have to manage finances for the first time. Again our research
would suggest that currently there is little engagement with ‘learning’ about finance, even at the
welfare office; however, this provides an opportunity for proactive intermediaries to engage
struggling young adults.

Beyond driving engagement with financial information, this research would suggest that there is a
need to provide young adults with the basic information surrounding finances. This in turn would
empower them to decipher other financial information and make more informed decisions. If the
basics were understood, current financial information would not be so daunting for this audience.


2. Background and objectives

2.1 Background

This document reports the findings from research into the needs and attitudes of young adults (18-
24) towards financial matters. The research was undertaken by Synovate on behalf of the FSA.

Part of the FSA’s remit is to provide consumers with information in order to educate and inform
them about financial services. The FSA has established a national strategy for Financial Capability.
Within this they have set up a number of work streams, one of which looks at the needs of young
adults. Each work stream is led by a working group consisting of a number of partners. This research
was commission by the FSA on behalf of the Young Adults Working Group.

Currently, young adults receive the same general financial communication as everyone else. Whilst
the Working Group felt unsure of the information, advice and educational needs of young people,
there was a feeling that this information was not being communicated in the best way to engage
this age group, and a perception that young people considered much of the financial information
available either to not be aimed at them, or to not be the information they were seeking.

Research had already been conducted amongst teenagers (15-19 year olds)6, and further research
was then required amongst the slightly older 18-24 year-old age group to understand more fully
their specific information requirements and enable more effective communication with them in the

The 18-24 age group contains a diverse set of individuals. This is often a time for change as young
people start to gain independence, whether this is in employment or further education. The
circumstances of this group vary greatly. They may be working or studying; living at home versus
living away. Therefore the needs they have in terms of financial information, advice and education
are equally diverse.

Previous research7 has provided background on identifying what prompts consumers to seek
financial information. This research developed this further, and whilst broad in nature, looked at
specific areas around young people’s information needs relating to personal finance.

FSA, Young People and Financial Matters, Consumer Research 25, March 2004
FSA, Towards understanding consumers' needs, October 2004

2.2 Research objectives

The overall purpose of this research was to assist the Working Group in developing financial
messages for young adults, and provide guidance on how they might be formatted most effectively.
The project explored specifically young people’s information needs around personal finance and
money matters – how they pick up messages, what they need to know, what information they would
find useful and how to reach them with these messages. This would then inform an implementation
plan designed to generate better engagement, and ensure that young people are better educated
and able to make informed decisions. The plan will be used by the Working Group with their
partners to help design effective and relevant strategies for young adults.

The specific research objectives were to:

• understand the youth financial landscape and the context in which young adults view/organise
their finances;

• identify specific information needs for particular financial events and decisions, and any gaps
in knowledge that exist;

• examine where young people pick up financial messages and which mediums are most effective
in reaching them;

• investigate the current provision of financial information;

• assess the current level of understanding of financial information, and ascertain the relevance
and usefulness of particular messages;

• explore perceptions of current financial information, content, tone and format, and identify
any gaps that are felt to exist; and

• investigate particular barriers for getting financial messages to this audience.

3. Methodology and sample

3.1 Overview

In order to fully understand young people’s attitudes to money and finance, a qualitative
programme of research was conducted. A qualitative approach was taken in order to understand
this age group’s needs fully, to explore sources of information used, to gauge the perceptions of
that information and to identify any information gaps. The research took the form of a two-stage
approach, the first consisting of 14 ethnographic sessions with young people, followed by six mini-
group discussions with five or six respondents and four triads (interviews with three respondents).
All primary fieldwork was conducted in London and Manchester between 29 March and 12 May 2005.

3.2 Desk research

Before fieldwork took place, desk research was carried out to determine how this age group is
currently approached and communicated with, and to examine current financial materials to which
they might be exposed. The background research also included analysis of Project Edge
publications8. This desk research helped to place the findings in a wider context and is used
extensively in the Youth Financial Landscape section of this report (Section 4).

3.3 Ethnographic sessions

Fourteen ethnographic sessions were completed with individuals falling into various typologies (see
Section 3.5). This involved conducting a three-hour discussion in each respondent’s home. This
method was used for several reasons and allowed us to understand more about the cultural context
of young people. The personal nature of the financial information that was discussed meant that a
traditional group approach would not have been suitable. Respondents may also have ‘played down’
or exaggerated their circumstances and/or needs in a group situation. The sessions were conducted
in each respondent’s home, and we were able to observe and talk to young people in a comfortable
and familiar environment, and also meant that it was possible to physically see where they kept
their financial information, how they kept themselves organised financially, and generally gain a
better understanding of an individual’s set-up and background.

These are a series of reports which have been published quarterly over the past five years by
Vegas (Synovate’s youth research specialists) investigating youth lifestyle and attitudes.

By spending time with respondents, we were able to go beyond the rational responses to uncover
any unconscious feelings or factors that played a role in their attitude towards finances. They were
more relaxed in their home surroundings and the moderator had the opportunity to develop a
rapport with the individual, leading to a deeper level of understanding. This was useful when, for
example, an individual was reluctant to admit to an assumption or an attitude, based on a lack of
financial knowledge.

Where appropriate, the main interview was supplemented with discussions with other family
members. This gave more of a 360 degree insight into the individual’s life, character and needs
based on their own perceptions and the perceptions of those around them.

A copy of the discussion guide for the ethnographic sessions can be found in Appendix 1.

3.4 Mini-group discussions and triads

Following on from the ethnographic sessions, six mini-group discussions and four triads were
conducted, each lasting one hour.

As with the ethnographic sessions, the group discussions involved speaking to individuals from across
various typologies (see Section 3.5). Additionally, the four triads were recruited to be from key
ethnic groups in the UK – two with Black Afro-Caribbean respondents and two with Asian
respondents (both Muslim and Hindu). This allowed the findings from respondents from an ethnic
minority to be compared with the findings from the ‘mainstream’ respondents in order to identify
any differences.

The group discussions and triads enabled the learning from the ethnographic sessions to be taken
forward to a wider range of individuals, explored further and validated. The information needs for
specific financial purchase situations were examined, together with the possible channels that could
be used to reach this age group, looking in particular at the use of intermediaries. The group
situation enabled the respondents to share their experiences and generate ideas about ways that
they could be reached. A copy of the mini-group and triad discussion guide can be found in
Appendix 2.

3.5 Summary of sample structure

Respondents for both the ethnographic sessions and the group discussions were selected to exhibit
various characteristics and to cover a wide range of situations and typologies. These typologies
incorporated factors such as age, gender, level of education, whether they were studying or
working, the length of time they had been on a course/in a job, whether they were living at home
or away and their social class/level of parental affluence.

They must also have either made a recent financial product purchase or have a current need for a
product relating to one of the following.

• Managing money/budgeting

• Buying a home

• Renting a home

• Running a home

• Buying a car

• Managing debt

• Planning for the future (short term)

• Planning for the future (long term)

The earlier research (Young People and Financial Matters) identified a number of broad profiles of
young people, including ‘conservative’ and ‘hedonist’ profiles. In order to provide some continuity
or crossover of this new work and the previous research, some respondents were recruited based on
the earlier profiles. Their characteristics9 are outlined below.

Profile Outlook Main influences Attitudes to Behaviour in

money and money and
financial matters financial matters

Conservative • Future-focused • Parents pro • Debt averse • Plan and

(short and long saving and control
term) managing money • Associated spending
with parental
• Cautious with • Less strongly philosophy • Budget their
money influenced by income
others about • Save for a
spending rainy day • Save, with or

Hedonist • Present-focused • Many sources • Debt is • Spend, spend,

influence inevitable spend
• Fun seekers spending
• No guilt about • Little or no
• Live for today • Few influences spending saving
for saving – tend
• Optimistic not to • Lack of respect
for money

Adapted from FSA, Young People and Financial Matters, Consumer Research 25, March 2004

For the ethnographic discussions, six respondents were recruited who fell into the conservative and
hedonist profiles, with the rest being allowed to fall out naturally. The respondents for the group
discussions were not recruited to fall into either category.

All respondents were the main financial decision maker in terms of being solely responsible for their
own money and money decisions, so whilst they may still have deferred to the advice of others,
they were ultimately responsible for making their own financial decisions.

A full breakdown of the sample is in Appendix 3, the recruitment questionnaire for the ethnographic
sessions is in Appendix 4, the mini-group questionnaire is in Appendix 5 and the triad questionnaire
is in Appendix 6.

3.6 Pre-task

Respondents taking part in the ethnographic sessions were asked to complete a pre-interview task
in the form of a ‘financial scrapbook’ (see Appendix 7). This entailed filling in a booklet over three
days covering a range of issues surrounding their finances and financial knowledge/decisions,
including information such as:

• their attitude towards money;

• influences concerning money matters;

• biggest financial successes/mistakes;

• current sources of financial information or advice;

• monthly income and outgoings; and

• examples of financial information that communicates well with them.

As well as making the respondent consider some of the areas in the discussion, it enabled a deeper
insight into the considered responses about the issues that interested and concerned them.

4. Understanding the youth financial landscape

Part of the brief of this study was to look at the youth financial landscape and the factors
influencing financial information needs and requirements. Based on all of the fieldwork conducted
for this project, and drawing heavily on the desk research which included analysis of Vegas’s Project
Edge reports, the following section outlines the factors influencing the current young adult financial

There are many factors that may influence young adults’ attitudes towards money and thus their
financial information needs. These factors may come from both their personal circumstances, which
make them individual and different, as well as overriding societal trends that shape the similarities
in their behaviour and make them different from previous generations. For simplicity, the following
sections of the report cover these factors separately.

Further to this we have included a section on parental influence, in itself the biggest factor shaping
mainstream young adults’ attitudes towards money and therein providing for their financial
information needs.

4.1 General attitudes to money

4.1.1 The role of money

Money was seen by all as an essential part of life, and as a necessity to be able to do the things they
want to do. Most saw money in terms of spending power and the empowerment it gives them, with
the ability to display material wealth. The only exception to this would be extreme conservatives,
who preferred to see their money grow rather than spend it.

“It’s all about money… if you haven’t got any you can’t do anything. The more you’ve got the more
fun you can have and the nicer stuff you can buy.”
Male worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

There are several potential implications of this generation’s tendency to focus on what money can
achieve. Firstly, it may be that the financial vehicle used to achieve an aim is of secondary
importance to the purchase itself. This means that there is no real engagement with the financial
underpinning of a purchase, with the product itself not fully considered or questioned – there is less
shopping around for the most appropriate financial product. Secondly, it implies a relatively short-
term, consumerist outlook towards financial services of this age group – as evidenced by the quote

4.1.2 Attitudes towards debt

On the whole, respondents were attitudinally debt averse. This did not mean that they did not have
any debt, as some had taken on debt out of necessity, but there was a general desire to clear this.

Interestingly for many respondents in this research, 0% interest on credit deals and balance
transferred credit cards was not considered debt. The way young people decide what is, and is not,
classed as debt was relatively consistent across the respondents. Debt was only felt to be
problematic when it involved a large amount of money that was growing out of control, and which
they would struggle to pay back either now or in the future. They were satisfied that if they could
afford the monthly payments, or knew they would be able to when the debt became due in the
future (for example, a student loan), then it was not of great concern.

“As long as I’m alright with my payments, that’s all I’m bothered about.”
Male worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

For many, debt was felt to be an acceptable part of life, and indeed may be the only way they can
lead the life they desire. It is no longer a taboo subject, and respondents, even in the mini groups,
were comfortable discussing exactly how much they owed. As more people they know take out loans
and credit cards, it becomes more acceptable; and for students, the norm.

Many debt situations are not considered to be debt by this age group. This includes student loans,
0% balance transfer deals, interest-free overdrafts, and ‘buy now, pay later’ deals. These fit with
the criteria of affordability, as the debt does not have to be repaid straight away and is not
‘growing out of control’.

The most extreme example relating to debt was a graduate with £27,000 of debt, which included a
student loan, overdraft, credit cards and debt to family members. He was in the process of buying a
£5,000 computer through more credit, not seeing this as an issue, as he felt he needed the
computer to earn a good living to enable him to pay off the debt.

The debt that respondents had taken on varied somewhat. Students, for the most part, had taken
out student loans. Some had taken them out through necessity, to pay their fees or their rent, and
saw the loan as crucial to allowing them to go to university. Others had taken them out because
they were entitled to them, rather than having a need for them. For example, one respondent who
was living at home and paying minimal rent, spent his loan on an expensive holiday abroad.

There was a sense of a student loan being ‘free money’ (coupled with the assumption of interest
free), partly because it was such an accepted thing to take out, but also because the time period
for repayment seems distant from the present time. Despite this lack of worry, figures released by
the BBC show that the average graduate debt has now reached £12,06910, and the report suggests
that the debt burden on students will increase further in coming years as university top-up fees are
introduced in 2006.

Those respondents in the sample who were working had varying types of debt depending on their
circumstances. Some were debt averse and had none at all; others had one or more credit cards,
loans, overdrafts or student loans. Despite the varying circumstances and types of debt, the
attitudes were, on the whole, similar. As long as they were able to meet the monthly repayments
for the debt, it was not of great concern.

The unemployed respondents could not obtain credit through official means due to their status. This
had not deterred them from trying to obtain credit cards though, even without any means of paying
them back. In addition to media scaremongering about debt, these respondents often had first-hand
experience of debt. They had seen bailiffs trying to take people’s goods, and were aware of the
ways you could try to prevent this from happening.

For extreme conservatives, or people who have struggled with debt in the past, all forms were seen
as dangerous, with mortgages being the only exception, as they are seen as a necessity in life.

4.2 Personal circumstances

4.2.1 Age

The difference between the personal circumstances of an 18 year old and a 24 year old is
considerably less than it has been in the past, with young adults living at home longer than before.
The Survey of English Housing11 states that 58% of English 20-24 year-old men are still living in their
parental home, as are 42% of women of the same age. We even see 65% of university graduates
returning to their parental home. Amongst the respondents interviewed in this study who were
living at home, most deferred all responsibility to their parents and continued living a carefree,
youthful lifestyle.

Survey of English Housing, Deputy Prime Minister’s Office

That is not to say that there are no differences between an 18 and a 24 year old. This is an age of
change and the beginnings of adult responsibility for some, with transitions from further education
to university and hopefully into the working environment, or alternatively directly to work (or
unemployment for some).

It is also an age where there is increasing financial independence from their parents, with incomes
either beginning or increasing, and also the possibility of student loans for those who study. For
those living at home, this often comes with little increase in housekeeping – a survey by Abbey
National indicates that the average paid is £40 per month, including food and essential shopping12.
In this research, we also found many examples of parents still providing financial assistance for both
day-to-day living as well as for big item purchases such as cars or holidays.

“My mum still gives me travel and lunch money for when I go to uni… it’s pretty good really. I’m
spending my student loan on going on holiday with my mates and my wages pay for going out at the
Male university student, 20, living with parents, C1, Haydock

Within our research sample we found that the touch-points with money vary between the ages.
Examples from our research can be seen in the table below.

18-20 year olds (and older) 21-24 year olds

• Saving for a GAP year or university – first • Student overdrafts

• Juggling costs of living (often without
• Opening a student account budgeting)

• Getting first credit card • Short-term saving for bigger purchases

• New account for first wages • Mortgages for limited few

• Access to large amounts of money via loans ( or • Credit card debts

student loans)
• Loan repayments
• Saving/loans for holidays or car purchases

Understanding these touch-points is important when formulating a strategy to develop financial

messages for young adults. In order to engage interest, the strategy needs to be relevant and
reflect the priorities and concerns of this target audience.

Abbey National Survey, 2004

4.2.2 Working situation

In our sample, respondents’ personal working circumstances had a great effect on their knowledge
of, and attitude towards, money.

Those with the most financial responsibility were the workers who had moved out of their parents’
home. They were often spending all of their wages each month/week but were generally living
within their means. Even for those with a mortgage, money and budgeting were not major concerns;
they paid the bills first and then the rest of their income was left for entertainment (again
reinforcing the generally short-term outlook of this generation). Some graduate workers felt that,
even if they were unable to pay off their debt at present, they would be able to do so in the future
due to their favourable employment prospects.

“I don’t worry about it really. I just pay out what I need to when I get paid and then see what’s
left for fun after that.”
Female worker, 22, living with parents, no further education, C1, London

Workers living at home were unsurprisingly often the most affluent group. They paid little or no
housekeeping to their parents, and used their income solely for personal entertainment and for
large purchases such as cars and holidays. In the groups, we did still, however, find examples of
young workers with credit cards and consolidation loans to cover their expensive lifestyles.

Students living away from home felt they had undergone a sudden jolt into the financial world.
They had learnt lessons early on in their first year at university, with many overspending greatly in
their first term, and had since made some attempt to budget with their money. Student loans were
seen as a necessity to live, and many knew that the welfare or hardship office could be used as a
fallback if they got into financial difficulties.

“I really messed up my first term at uni. I ended up borrowing money off my parents to cover my
rent and getting some cash from the welfare office… after that I tried but never quite got it
Male graduate worker, 24, living away from parents, C1, Manchester

Students living at home were the most cocooned of all, with many taking student loans because
they were entitled to them rather than needing them for study-related costs, meaning they could
lead an affluent lifestyle. They were potentially the least aware of the value of money, with little
development beyond the traditional pocket money transaction. The findings from this piece of work
are echoed in the Project Edge report on student life (see Appendix 9).

The report produced by Vegas entitled Geezerland (see Appendix 9) unearthed some interesting
overall attitudes to unemployment among young adults, and the results were backed up by this
research. The main findings indicate that unemployment is not a stigma for this generation, and is
rarely an enforced situation. They may have been temporarily unemployed between study and
work, or taken a break between jobs to simply enjoy themselves. Young people had little desire to
work in menial jobs and may have tried these and left because they found them too boring. There
was less pressure from their parents to earn a living, and many had a belief that they could organise
their finances in a few years’ time, deferring responsibility into the future. There was little sense of
urgency because at their current age they are still relatively carefree and living comfortably with
their parents. This attitude was echoed in our research by one respondent.

“I did have a job but it was boring so I just signed on for some extra cash. My mum gives me what I
need anyway but it’s nice to buy stuff… when college starts I’m gonna need to find some more
Female unemployed, 18-21, living with parents, no further education, E, London

Again, this study and the Geezerland report indicated that, for the long-term unemployed, there is
a high awareness of how to ‘work the system’. They know their rights and ways to get all the
benefits that they are entitled to, whilst avoiding debt collectors. During the time that they are
unemployed, they may put themselves on the list for council houses to secure one before they begin
working. For some, there is a feeling that starting work would actually be too expensive, because of
all the benefits that are available to them. As one of our respondents put it:

“I got myself put on the housing list a few weeks ago. It means I can get my own place before I get
a job and can’t afford it… yeah, it was my Dad’s idea.”
Male unemployed, 18-21, living with parents, no further education, E, London

Whatever the circumstances of unemployed respondents, this research has shown that they tend to
use cash on a day-to-day basis, have little use for banking and are unable to obtain credit. As a
result, they have very little interest in engaging with or understanding the world of finance.

4.2.3 Gender

Despite differing spending patterns and role models within the home, there was very little gender
difference between the respondents in our sample. Both male and female respondents fell into the
extreme hedonist and conservative typologies. Many recognised the varying roles parents had in
terms of influence, where their father was more likely to be responsible for the more complicated
commitments such as mortgages or pensions and their mother was more likely to be responsible for
the household budgeting.

Irrespective of their financial influencers/role models, in our sample both sexes are living a
relatively carefree existence (even those who have settled early), and these stereotypes are not
witnessed. It is not possible to predict whether they will develop in later life or whether this is a
larger societal trend, with the breakdown of traditional gender roles in the home.

“It’s not like with my parents where mum sorts it all out and stuff. We just split things and have
our own accounts and everything like that… seems to work okay.”
Female graduate worker, 23, living with boyfriend, C1, London

4.2.4 Social class

The work conducted by the Project Edge team has uncovered some interesting issues regarding
social class amongst this age group, and these were echoed by our sample in this project. In terms
of consumption behaviour and income, some of the more traditional means of dissecting society,
such as social class, are less relevant among young adults. Blue collar workers can earn more than
their white collar counterparts, such is the demand for their skills. However, social class may still
play a part in shaping individual respondents’ attitudes to money and their financial information
needs, thus there is a difference between the values held by respondents from a middle-class, as
opposed to a working-class, background.

Those from a middle-class background had grown up with more money in childhood, with aspirations
of discernment and quality. Parents were less likely to discuss personal finance, and thus these
respondents were less close to the value of money. However, they also had more certain financial
backing and typically their parents had greater financial knowledge and contacts to provide direct
information when required – this is important when we consider that most young adults defer to
their parents for financial advice. Also we witnessed greater conservative values being instilled by
middle-class parents.

“I didn’t have a clue when I got to uni. My parents never really discussed things like that, they just
told me to save and be careful.”
Male graduate worker, 24, living away from parents, C1, Manchester

Those from a working-class background had encountered less money in childhood but still aspired to
affluence, but in a slightly different way. They marked their status via their wealth, preferred overt
branding to indicate their affluence and were likely to be looking toward the media and celebrity
culture for influence. The groups reflected this desire to spend and an example of this may be the
four working-class 21-24 year olds that we interviewed in Manchester, all of whom had considerable
credit card debt and consolidation loans. Generally, however, their upbringing had made them
closer to an appreciation of the value of money than their middle-class counterparts, with some
having experienced the negative impact of extreme debt.

“I’ve been saving a bit for some cosmetic surgery. I haven’t had it yet. I keep spending the money
on more clothes and stuff, but I’m gonna get a new card to put it on.”
Female worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

Whatever their background, young adults trust the advice given to them by their parents –
irrespective of its quality.

4.3 Hedonists vs. conservatives

Within our sample we interviewed six respondents recruited to fit either a hedonist or conservative
profile (see Section 3.5). The rest of the sample was to hold a mix of hedonist and conservative
attitudes. These attitudes, instilled through parents and society, are key to young adults’
engagement with financial information, and this research corroborated the findings from earlier
research with younger adults.

For the extreme hedonist, the dominant force is their friends and the influence of society. They
love spending money and enjoy the pleasure of the purchase, often spending everything they have
and more, believing that in the future they will be able to pay it off. They were less likely to
engage with financial information and rarely shopped around for products.

“No, I never worry about it. I just put it on the card and sort it out later.”
Male non-university student, 20, living with parents, C1, Manchester

Conversely, the extreme conservative is influenced mainly by parents, and loves saving and dealing
with money. They are very debt averse, and enjoy money and finance to the extent that it becomes
almost a hobby. Some of these people are planning for the future, having taken out pensions. They
are experts in processing financial information and have many means of satisfying their information
needs, most commonly using the Internet or their bank as sources of information.

“I know it’s really weird but I like to see my money growing, I like the interest and even moving it
around on the Internet… I think I’m quite odd really.”
Female worker, 22, living away from parents, no further education, C2, London

Most of the respondents, rather than fitting neatly into either of these categories, fell somewhere
between the two, exhibiting behaviour that could see them classed as both conservative and

The typical respondent in our sample liked to spend money if they had it, usually from what they
had left after paying their regular outgoings, for example rent or mobile phone bill. They were
happy to spend money on certain things (their passions such as travel or music), while compromising
on more everyday items. They liked to save money if they could afford to in the short term, or if
they wanted to buy something bigger than they could afford with one wage packet, such as a car or
a holiday. They enjoyed the pleasure of the purchase when they knew it was something they could
afford, and were generally debt averse unless they knew they were in control - balance transfer 0%
deals and student loans were examples of this. For the majority, parents or personal networks were
providing nearly all financial information requirements, and if they needed information they were
willing to learn.

4.4 Ethnicity

Four triads were held with respondents from the largest ethnic minorities in the UK - black Afro-
Caribbean and Asian (both Muslim and Hindu). The purpose of these discussions was to examine any
difference in attitudes to personal finance that may exist amongst these communities. It should be
noted that these black and ethnic minority respondents were from urban backgrounds and so did not
reflect the full spectrum of the black and ethnic minority population.

All of these respondents were born and had grown up in London, and as such their attitudes towards
money were influenced as much by having grown up in urban London as they were by their parents
and wider family/community. Furthermore, these respondents appeared more materialistic and
status driven than other groups, and were very much influenced by urban music and the culture it
promotes in terms of the desire to show off wealth through what you have and what you can buy.

However, it is important to note that on the whole, these respondents’ attitudes were largely on a
par with the attitudes of all other respondents, with some subtle differences.

The main difference that emerged related to parental influence. Amongst the Asian respondents,
there was a much stronger influence in the form of family encouragement to save for the future.
Their parents had often come to the UK to ‘better’ themselves and thus there was a subtle pressure
for their children to do the same and not waste any opportunities. Their parents tended to openly
discuss finances and business with the family, and as such the respondents had a strong work ethic
and sense of financial responsibility, with many driven towards self-employment and

“My parents have been struggling to set up a new business recently so I have been helping out with
the grocery shopping from my wages and I like to take the whole family for a meal or to the
cinema once a month. It cheers us all up.”
Asian university student, 20, living with parents, C1, Manchester

For the black Afro-Caribbean respondents there was a much greater sense of responsibility in terms
of contributing to household income than seen among the general sample. All respondents were
regularly paying rent to their parents, contributing to bills and sharing grocery shopping, with an
overall sense of collective household financial responsibility.

Beyond this one main difference, however, they displayed very similar characteristics as the rest of
the respondents in terms of their overall attitude towards, and knowledge about, finance generally
and thus their information needs.

4.5 Project Edge: Societal trends

Overriding much of the variation found within the 18-24 age group, there are many societal factors
that shape the attitudes, lifestyle and financial landscape of this generation. The following section
combines the analysis of our research findings with previous learning from Project Edge to produce
an overall picture of attitudes and influences on this population and how it affects the Young Adults
Working Group strategy when approaching this audience.

4.5.1 Young adults are living in carefree times

The last 15 years have mainly been those of a positive economic climate. Growing up with this
backdrop to their life, the mainstream young adults that we interviewed had very few major
concerns or worries about finance. The Project Edge Generation Z report indicated that, over this
period of time, jobs have not been difficult to find and unemployment is rarely forced13. As already
mentioned, all of our unemployed respondents had chosen this as an option between studying or
between jobs.

University used to be a privilege for the few, but with the government keen to encourage 50% of
young people to participate in higher education14 and the growth in the number of universities
across the country, further education has become a realistic option for many who would not have
considered it in the past. The number of undergraduate students in the UK increased by 61%
between 1991/2 and 2003/415. This shows the extent to which young people’s circumstances and
financial situation have changed in recent years.

Synovate Vegas: Generation Z
DfES, Trends in Education and Skills, February 2005

The implication of this carefree attitude towards life tips over into money matters. Many
respondents were accumulating debt without concern, feeling that they would be in a position to
pay it in the future. They have not experienced economic downturns, and so the perceptions of the
value of money and the ease with which it can be obtained differs from the generations before
them. The implication of this is that traditional communication strategies and messages may not be
as relevant to this generation and may go some way to explaining why young people find it difficult
to engage with current financial information.

4.5.2 New rebellion

This research indicated that, to some extent, this age group is rebelling against the responsibilities
of adulthood, seeking the easiest route as far as is possible, which often involves staying at home
and living with parents, even whilst studying or after university.

There was general agreement across our sample that, below the age of 25 is deemed to be a
carefree age, with many not taking on any financial responsibility of their own before then,
expecting to do so at 25 (for school leavers), 30 (for graduates) or when they find their first
‘proper’ job.

“I’m not worrying about any of it now, why should I? I earn a bit of money, I live for nothing and
you are supposed to have fun when you are young. When I’m 25 or something like that I guess I’ll
have a job and sort it out then.”
Male worker, 18-21, living with parents, B, London

For the majority, the first big financial engagement they imagined taking on was a mortgage, and
with the average age of first time buyers in England and Wales being 3416, this was not something
they had considered yet.

This research reflected other work17 conducted amongst this age group by Vegas that 18-24 year
olds tend to live for the moment and there is little to no long-term planning. This was most
noticeable amongst the students who generally had little consideration of the debt they were taking
on with a student loan.

“Doing this interview has made me think about it and I suppose it [student loan] is quite a lot of
money. But then again everyone does it and you don’t pay any interest at all. I doubt I’ll notice the
repayments when I get a job anyway.”
Female non-university student, 20, living away from parents, C1, London

Synovate Vegas: Project Edge

“I really wished I had known what I was doing at the time… I’ve got the max and some emergency
loans. It’s about £15,000. I try not to think about it but the interest is noticeable now… I didn’t
even think there was any. It’s stopping me getting more loans now and I want to buy a computer.”
Male graduate worker, 24, living away from parents, C2, Manchester

This age group also like to feel they have ‘beaten the system’, whether that involves downloading
music illegally, buying fake DVDs, or from a financial point of view, balance transferring to avoid
paying interest or investing your student loan in a high interest account.

“As long as I keep moving it [credit card balance] it’s alright, I spread it out and move it and so I
pay no interest… it’s like free money.”
Male worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

There are implications here about when and what financial information is likely to be welcomed or
relevant at any time, and the way in which it is presented. Whilst there is obviously a need for
trying to improve clarity/understanding at the point of purchase, relying solely on this may be
unrealistic for this age group. The research findings seem to indicate that there may also be a role
for both education and support for people who have taken out products and later discovered
problems. Given that for most a mortgage is seen at the first major commitment, there may also be
an argument for trying to perceptually ‘reposition’ other financial products (such as a bank account
or loan) with this audience to increase the level of (re-)consideration or importance attached to the
products. A key area is student loans where more information is needed to ensure full appreciation
of the commitments being made. The style and tone of the messages could be changed to reflect
the desire to ‘beat the system’ – information presented as ‘being clever’ with your money (rather
than the more traditional ‘sensible with money’) may generate greater engagement. Underpinning
all of these comments is the basic requirement to create awareness and consideration of these
issues in the first place.

4.5.3 Consumer culture

The Vegas Youth Trends reports18 indicate that young people are under huge pressure to spend.
Arguably this has always been the case for this life stage, but nowadays it is more extreme. From a
younger age, there is pressure to ‘fit in’ through what you own or consume. We witness consumer
values being applied to many aspects of young adults’ lives, and young people approaching all
situations asking “what’s in it for me?”

Synovate Vegas: Youth Trends 2004

The world of finance is, however, different. Lacking interest and knowledge of the basics required
to engage in the financial information, the majority (with the exception of extreme conservatives)
rely on parents to help them out. Finance lacks ‘coolness’ among this age group and is not seen to
add to their image in itself – rather it is via what can be achieved through good money
management. This has implications for both content and style of communications, both in terms of
short-term attitudes and adopting a more ‘consumerist’ or benefit-led approach.

4.5.4 Virtual banking

In this research, for most respondents the reality of the bank was merely a cash card and a cash
point. Despite this, there was a surprisingly low uptake of Internet banking. For those inclined to
spend, banking did not appeal due to a lack of interest in, or fear of, their balance. For the more
conservative respondents, banking did hold appeal as it empowers them in the financial process, yet
they were overly concerned with fraud and Internet security issues. Thus the young generation is
significantly removed from the most accessible face of the world of finance.

“I never go to the bank. I just get money from wherever I am… I don’t even read the statements…
if there was a problem I’d phone them up.”
Female worker, 22, living with parents, no further education, C1, London

Despite this, many claim that they would to go to the bank if their parents were unable to help.

4.5.5 Celebrity influence

The Generation Z report produced by Vegas gives some interesting insights into the influence of
celebrity culture on young people. Mainstream young adults are highly influenced by lifestyles
portrayed by celebrity role models, many of whom have become famous through no particular
talent but the medium of reality TV. Further to this the dominant urban music scene celebrates
materialism further. Their music videos often contain expensive and high quality brands such as
Mercedes and i-Pod.

This has set a new benchmark for personal style and success, making significant wealth seem a
realistically obtainable goal. This has given rise to the belief that anyone can, and will, become
wealthy, regardless of their background, and a feeling that they ‘deserve’ to do so. It makes young
people believe that they will earn high incomes, with many keen to embrace entrepreneurialism
and live the lifestyle they desire without working in traditional jobs.

This attitude may be spilling over into their approach to finances, particularly debt. If young people
believe that they will gain a high income, accumulation of debt now ceases to be concerning as it
will be dealt with at some point in the future. Interestingly several other government departments
have recognised this trend, and are using it as the basis of communication campaigns, e.g. the
recent road safety advertising campaign.

4.5.6 Easily available credit

Credit is now available to almost anyone with a regular income. With the recent advent of 0%
balance transfers on credit cards it is also possible for large debts to be accrued without the worry
of the interest spiralling out of control. In this light, and in a consumerist culture, some people are
tempted into credit agreements as the monthly payments seem so affordable. There was some
evidence of this behaviour within the group, with examples of credit having been taken out for
cosmetic surgery, holidays and the use of balance transferred credit cards for simply having a good
time. Most respondents who had taken out credit had ensured that repayments were within their

4.5.7 Mobile phones

The mobile phone has had an important effect on this age group. This is an essential item for all
respondents and for young people; it is often their first regular outgoing and also their first
experience of overspending. They gain experience of budgeting and how to select the best deal.

“Your mobile phone is the thing with money… you always run out of credit and it makes you think
about it more.”
Male unemployed, 18, living with parents, no further education, E, London

Whilst not a traditional financial product, there are contractual similarities that cross over into the
financial world. Building on the inherent interest young adults express in mobile phones and using
this environment, or examples drawn from it, to begin to educate them to consider implications of
different contract types, usage, lock-ins and the benefits of shopping around may be a useful way of
engaging interest.

4.5.8 Media fear factor

Recent media coverage of identify theft and fraud meant that many of the respondents were fearful
of this happening to them. This manifested itself as a fear of using Internet banking or general
mistrust of companies that are seen as to be trying to ‘rip them off’.

There were various instances of respondents shredding documents, and even one extreme case of
statements being burnt in the kitchen sink. This shows that this generation does take on board
messages about financial matters when directly relevant to them and in their control.

4.5.9 Parental influence

As found in the previous research with younger age groups, parental influence has a huge impact on
this age group’s relationship to money. For respondents in this research, money and finance is one
of the few areas where children respect and listen to their parents’ views. They believe that their
parents have had more interaction with, and more experience of, financial matters.

“Your parents are the ones who know, aren’t they? I mean they’ve been there and done it and they
are still around so they must have done alright… of course you trust them.”
Female worker, 22, living with parents, no further education, C1, London

As the Stay at Home Youth report19 indicates, this influence is further fuelled by the fact that young
people of this age group are a ‘mothered’ generation, staying younger and responsibility free for
longer. As mentioned previously a great number of them choose to remain living with their parents,
with increasing numbers opting to live at home during university and many graduates returning
home after university to save money and pay off some of their student debt. The impact of this is
that they remain relatively distant from financial information, with parents running their home,
doing their shopping and in some cases paying for their credit cards.

“I do get it easy; my mum sorts pretty much everything out. She does all my shopping. She even
sorted out my savings account for my holiday… I gave her the money and she got the forms and
Male university student, 20, living with parents, C1, Haydock

Where they do need to make financial decisions, they often defer these to their parents or even let
their parents make transactions for them. We found many examples of parents opening bank
accounts, setting up standing orders, looking after savings, purchasing cars, finding loans (and filling
out the application forms) and even choosing mortgages.

“When I got my car I just told my mum and she went and got all the info and read it and then told
me which one. I just signed the piece of paper and that was it.”
Female worker, 22, living with parents, no further education, C1, London

Synovate Vegas: Project Edge Report – Stay at Home Youth

This study shows that the influence of parents seen in the FSA’s Young People and Financial Matters
report (March 2004) extends into young adults and is the primary source of information and advice
for this audience. Attitudes and behaviour are influenced by, discussed with or deferred to parents.
In considering how to engage young adults in the financial world, parental influence and
involvement must not be underestimated, and any strategy needs to use this to strengthen the
campaign and ensure its success.

4.6 Youth financial landscape: Trends and implications

Understanding young adults’ overall attitudes to their finances is important when thinking about
how to engage them in financial information. There are a number of key trends emerging from this
contextual information that help explain how and why young people are behaving in certain ways
when dealing with their finances.

• For most of our sample, money was seen as a means to an end, and it is the end purchase that
is of primary importance. This is reflected in the strong consumer culture and short-term
outlook which exists among this age group and was described by the people we spoke to.

• The young adults we interviewed felt that they were at a carefree stage of life, and this was
reflected in their attitude to debt and their unwillingness to engage in ‘serious’ or ‘adult’
financial matters.

• Parents continue to have a major impact on the finances and financial attitudes of this
generation – ranging from subsidising living expenses and giving advice about finances through
to taking on full responsibility for their children’s financial decisions.

There are clear implications here as to how any financial information can be made to be relevant to
this audience and the challenges faced in trying to encourage young adults to engage in this type of

5. Identifying financial information needs and gaps in
knowledge for financial transactions

5.1 Overview

Whilst the conservative minority was actively seeking information about products or budgeting and
did recognise that they have financial information needs, the majority of our respondents were
disengaged and reactive about financial matters (as opposed to spending money), and as such felt
they had no financial information needs. Examples of this attitude are given below. When the need
for financial guidance had arisen, the majority of questions were answered by parents or through
their personal network. In many cases parents could provide the solution - only when parents and
personal networks failed was further information sought from more traditional sources.

The financial arena is so far removed from their everyday life and experience that it can be an
intimidating place to begin. For those who had tried to look for information elsewhere, there was
not felt to be any independent place to go currently, and the information itself is often inaccessible
as they lack the basic understanding to enable them to engage with the material.

This is not to say that this group do not have financial information needs, but rather that these
needs are largely met by their parents and personal networks. When they do have needs beyond this
they currently struggle through as the information available is too intimidating or boring to engage

5.2 The basics

When discussing financial information generally, the sample demonstrated a very low level of
understanding of the basics of financial information. This made it extremely difficult for these
young adults to access any information that is provided either in the form of advice or advertising –
they simply did not have the tools in place to assess what they were being told and/or the level of
information provided was inappropriate (either in terms of interest or technicality). Many had no
desire to find out more detailed information – they either did not care, did not recognise the need
or were embarrassed that they did not know the basics of finance.

From the point of view of this research, the implications are that young adults do not know what
they don’t know and therefore found it difficult to talk with any specificity about their information
needs. In discussion during the interviews (when talking about specific issues) processes or product
decisions) areas of information need often arose; however, these were rarely spontaneously
mentioned or offered by respondents, but were as a result of the discussion itself. Thus, many of
the information gaps that we have identified here are essentially unrecognised by our participants
(and arose as a result of omission or after probing) rather than being overtly mentioned.

This has considerable implications for how to engage and approach young adults with financial
information. The fact that there is an information need per se needs to be established (as young
adults don’t know they need the information in the first place) before they are prepared to engage
in any financial information provided.

Whilst the conservatives had considerable knowledge and were eager to learn as money had become
an interest for them, the majority of our sample (and especially the hedonists) were struggling.
Across our sample we found examples of the following basic financial information and education
needs for young adults.

• Basic financial jargon and concepts

When mentioned during discussion, many people had no idea of the meaning of terms such as
net interest, gross interest, APR and percentages, and the implications of different financial
concepts on their decision making.

• How to open a bank account

From a process point of view, how an account became ‘live’ and what information needed to
be provided. At this level, comparison between different accounts was not on the agenda.

• Understanding the difference between a savings account over a current account, and the
benefits of using savings accounts
Several respondents had no idea as to the interest rates, accessibility or functionality of the
different account types and therefore were making uninformed decisions as to where to save

• Awareness of the range of financial products available and the different/best ways of using
Respondents showed a lack of understanding of, and interest in, how financial products work
and what the benefits of each are.

• Tax allowances, claims and employment rights

There was limited understanding of what these were and how they may affect finances.

• Awareness of the requirement to keep financial information (such as bank statements or
pay slips) for future reference or as financial references
A couple of respondents had been unable to provide this type of information when requested to
do so for bank references etc.

• Little understanding (and considerable fear) of financial advisers or ‘the Taxman’

Young adults do not know the role of these advisers, how they can be used to help organise
finances and they feel intimidated by them. This means that they are unwilling to approach
these sources of advice to help identify their financial needs or gain general financial

• Credit ratings
Awareness of credit ratings, how they work and how they can impact on an individual’s credit

Through omission or misunderstanding, the research identified that many of the respondents had
these (often unacknowledged) gaps in their knowledge. This especially held true for the respondents
who were still living with their parents or who had recently left home.

For example, one respondent had £4,000 in a current account, and only £40 in her savings account,
as she did not know how to transfer the funds between accounts, or the benefits of doing so.
Another respondent had taken out a credit card with her existing bank, because she believed you
have to pay a credit card bill over the counter of where you hold the account. One part-time worker
was paying full-time tax and not only did not know how to claim tax back, but also did not realise
he was even entitled to claim.

5.3 Specific information needs

The 18-24 age group seeks information on a ‘need-to-know’ basis and they generally only come into
contact with finance when they want something. The individuals we recruited had recently gone
through a financial decision process and as such these specific needs largely relate to the brief. The
research did however uncover additional specific areas of financial information need where lack of
understanding was obvious, and we have also included commentary on these.

This section is structured around the following specific needs.

• Buying a car

• Buying something they are unable to afford

• Getting a loan

• Getting a credit card

• Buying on hire purchase

• Moving out of the parental home

• Buying a house

• Saving some extra earnings/student loan/inheritance/gift

• Going to university

• What to do with a student loan

• Controlling debt

• Claiming back tax

• Saving for the future

Each area describes what sources of information the young adults within our sample were using, and
the knowledge gaps relating to the area.

It should be noted that, for the typical mainstream young adult covered in this study, the first
source of information was nearly always their parents. This is very much in line with the earlier
research conducted by the FSA20. Additionally, because the respondents had successfully completed
the transaction, often with help from their parents, they were unable to imagine what other
information they might have found useful, and/or consider an alternative approach. The exception
to this was where problems had arisen subsequent to purchase, and even here examples were very
specific (rather than a general discussion of information gaps).

5.3.1 Buying a car

The first step in getting a car is to ask parents for advice. Many of the respondents’ parents had
helped them financially through this and may even have bought them a car outright or given them
their old car and bought a new one for themselves. Parents also may have given their children a
loan and allowed slow payback, or guided them through the process of finding a loan for
themselves. They sometimes put them on their own insurance, or offered help in finding an
insurance provider.

FSA, Young People and Financial Matters, Consumer Research 25, March 2004

When buying a car, there was a general lack of patience among young people – they might go
straight to a dealership to arrange finance without considering other alternatives, especially if they
cannot wait to buy the car. The bank is a source they might consult, or they may have looked at
loans on company websites or at Which?. Some may buy the car outright using all their available

“I wasn’t bothered [about whether it was a good deal], I just wanted a car.”
Male worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

Among the sample there was a general lack of consideration beyond buying the car itself. The key
question asked by respondents was where to obtain the money to be able to buy the car. This focus
on the purchase (already mentioned earlier in this report) not only included the finance
underpinning the purchase, but also the ancillary costs of car ownership, such as the cost of
insurance, petrol or other repair costs they would have to face.

Because of the focus on the end goal (i.e. owning a car), our respondents showed a general lack of
awareness of all methods of financing available, or the wider costs that might be involved such as
running the car after purchase. They were unable to discuss (or even consider) alternatives and for
some, the ongoing running costs had been somewhat of a surprise. Beyond financing the purchase,
there were few other information needs identified that related to car buying because young people
did not fully realise the ongoing cost implications of ownership. Many were unaware of how to shop
for insurance as their parents had either arranged for them to be included on their policy or
arranged it on their behalf. Another area that became apparent was that of clever tricks to get
around the costs, e.g. buying a classic car to avoid tax and buying second-hand lease cars rather
than new.

5.3.2 Buying something they are unable to afford

The first port of call when respondents wanted to buy something beyond their immediate reach
(such as furniture or a holiday) was again to ask their parents, who may have loaned them the
money or advised them on the best credit option.

Some respondents had given money to their parents to keep for them to avoid the temptation of
spending. This involved a casual arrangement of simply handing cash to parents to keep in a safe

They might have paid for the item and then lived on little money until the debt was paid off, or
they might have saved up but spent the money on something else instead.

“I think, I’ll put it on my credit card and I’ll pay if off at the end of the month, but if I’ve got the
money in the bank I’ll just spend it instead.”
Female worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

A common occurrence amongst respondents was to open a savings account, save a certain amount
each month for a certain amount of time, and then empty the account to pay for a large purchase.
Some respondents also obtained a credit card or a loan.

From the research it became clear that young people are often unaware of the range of finance
arrangements available to fund purchases, as well as the pros and cons of loans, credit cards, hire
purchase and saving in comparison with each other. The principles and discipline of budgeting and
saving to fund big items were also not fully appreciated.

5.3.3 Getting a loan

Most respondents who had applied for loans had done so because they wanted to buy something
immediately without saving, although the item was not always a necessity. Respondents had taken
out loans for cosmetic surgery, cars or shopping, and had used student loans to pay for holidays.

Their first consideration was about which way was the easiest and quickest to obtain the money
they required – again the goal of the purchase was driving the decision. They asked their parents or
friends about which companies were reputable and where to get the best deals, and then
supplemented this knowledge by looking at adverts and websites of companies they had heard of, or
possibly simply going into their local bank or building society.

Respondents tended to learn about the products as they went along and also if they made any
mistakes rather than researching fully prior to the decision. One example of this is the respondent
who had taken out a loan for £6,500 for cosmetic dentistry. When she realised that the treatment
would cost a great deal more than that she tried to pay the loan back, at which point she
discovered that there would be a large early repayment charge. Some chose to borrow from family,
rather than through official sources, after having seen the effect of debt and bailiffs.

Respondents demonstrated a lack of basic knowledge surrounding loans and how they work. Many
were unable to say how percentage rates translate into actual payments. When choosing a loan, the
key factors taken into consideration are how much they will pay back in total and what the monthly
repayments will be. Students want to know how much they would actually be paying back each
month from their salary once they start working.

“I know there’s a number [APR]… the lower the number, the better it is.”
Female university student, 21-24, living in shared accommodation, C1, Manchester

This age group wanted to borrow smaller amounts, for example £2,000 for a car, and had so far
found loans a very expensive way to borrow at these levels. They wanted to know whether they
could borrow smaller amounts more cheaply.

The features of loans (such as repayment holidays and cooling-off periods) are not understood and
need to be explained, as do fees that can be incurred, such as penalties or late payment charges.
This lack of basic understanding of the pros and cons of a loan versus other forms of financing
means that respondents are ill equipped to compare alternative funding methods and to ensure that
it is the most efficient way of purchasing an item. Some graduates were concerned that they had
taken out loans as students simply because they could rather than considering whether they actually
needed one. They felt that they would have benefited from advice regarding this at the time.

5.3.4 Getting a credit card

The process of getting a credit card is very similar to that of a loan. The bank and parents were the
first places to seek information. Searching through company websites was common, either directly
at companies they knew or by searching through Google for 0% offers.

Flyers through the door had some effect, and had prompted one respondent to apply directly, but
there was some scepticism about the companies that sent out a lot of mail.

Again during the interviews it became clear that the main focus of credit cards was on the
purchasing power gained, rather than the terms and conditions surrounding card usage. Young
people were often unable to describe how to use credit cards to gain maximum benefit. Some were
unaware of how to maximise their interest-free period, how they could avoid paying interest by
paying off the balance each month, how to transfer a balance and what levels of interest rate are
competitive. There was a lack of knowledge about additional features available on cards such as
payment protection insurance, cash back and loyalty schemes.

“I had a store card but I missed payments and got sent reminder letters for £25 each. When I got it,
it seemed like free stuff.”
Female worker, 20, living with parents, no further education, C2, London

The application process and how to transfer money between accounts and make payments are also
not fully understood. They were also unaware of the extra charges that may be levied for things
such as late payments, drawing cash or using their card abroad.

5.3.5 Buying on hire purchase

The first port of call was again their parents, followed by the place where they were actually
purchasing an item. As described earlier, this age group like to feel they can ‘beat the system’, and
thus if they can pay off the amount while it is still at 0% interest they feel they have beaten the
company. However, many do not consider the long-term implications of the agreement, and do not
asses the overall value of the offer (such as how much it will actually cost them in real money terms
and what the total repayments will be if the 0% repayment date is missed). Generally companies
who offer these schemes are thought to make a lot of money out of them.

“I just bought it because I knew I could pay the monthly rate. I didn’t realise how much I was
Male worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

Hire purchase is not the current language for this age group, with terms such as ‘buy now, pay
later’, ‘interest-free credit’ and ‘0% purchase deals’ used more frequently. There was some fear
amongst the sample of not knowing what hire purchase was and thus feeling stupid.

The new language served to conceal the fact that these were hire purchase arrangements. Many did
not shop around and admitted that they would be unable to compare the pros and cons of different
purchase methods or deals.

5.3.6 Moving out of the parental home

Moving out of their parents’ house is an event that had affected many of the respondents. Yet
before they left they had no formal knowledge of the costs of running a home or budgeting and had
little desire to find out about it – again the desire to move out overshadowed the financial
implications. Generally speaking, respondents were aware of the various household areas of
expenditure (such as electricity, council tax etc), but not of the actual cost of paying for these

Most respondents had learnt by experience, paying each bill as it came in. Some had asked their
parents for guidance, but the costs they paid may have differed from those of their parents so this
might not always have been the best advice.

“I’m in a better position to budget now as I didn’t know what I would spend before [I moved out].”
Male university student, 19, living in halls of residence, C1, London

Generally, respondents paid for the essential aspects of running a home first, and then the rest of
their money was free to be spent, or if they had no money left they used credit cards. Interestingly,
essential costs were considered not to just be utilities and food, but also Internet subscriptions,
satellite television and gym membership.

For the unemployed, moving out of their parents’ house meant making sure their rent would be paid
for by the council.

Respondents felt that information surrounding bills and bill payments would be useful. Examples of
typical costs, ways to pay (including direct debit), when to pay and the effect non-payment can
have on your credit rating would all be welcomed. Additionally, finding the best deal, how to
change providers, and how to buy utilities as a package (with the related savings this can bring)
were also important for this age group.

5.3.7 Buying a house

Buying a house is a major financial commitment for any age group, but for the 18-24 age group,
many of whom had not really engaged with finances before, it is felt to be a particularly
intimidating and confusing process.

“I had to ask various people for advice because at the beginning I knew very little about
mortgages. The whole process seemed a bit daunting.”
Female graduate worker, 23, living away from parents, B, London

As with most information seeking, they consulted their parents. Whilst parents could explain some
aspects, their experience could be out of date, and it was common for parents to then recommend
an IFA or mortgage broker. Young people also asked people they knew that were currently or had
recently experienced this process.

However, this is the one area that the research started to show a greater level of engagement and
proactivity. Respondents were likely to conduct a general information search amongst banks,
building societies and estate agents to find out how much money they could borrow and from
whom, as well as what types of mortgage were available. Armed with this information, they then
went to look for a property, and then returned to the bank or IFA. For the minority, there was also
some use of online comparison tables.

This age group wants to know the ‘truth’ about the housing market: they want to know what the
risks are and they want reassurance on the steps to getting a good deal. All of the respondents who
had taken out a mortgage had paid costs such as administration fees for which they had not
budgeted. They were also unaware that when applying for a mortgage, all other debt and spending
needs to be declared.

This group finds the whole thought of buying their first home daunting and would welcome some
basic information or a step-by-step guide on how to get a mortgage, including a timetable and cost
plan. There were also other gaps in their knowledge, such as how to compare the pros and cons of
different types of mortgage, payment scenarios for each and any hidden costs that may exist. One
respondent had bought their home without budgeting for necessities such as furniture – a reminder
as to the set-up costs of a house beyond the purchase may have been useful for these people, for
example the costs of large items such as cookers or beds.

One respondent had used an IFA to help with the mortgage process. However, she felt that she was
faced with a plethora of choice of adviser and did not know the differences between the various
forms of advice on offer (IFA vs. mortgage broker vs. estate agent) or how to find or judge the
quality of the adviser appointed. This individual welcomed information which clarified the roles and
gave help to find one who is truly independent.

5.3.8 Saving some extra earnings/student loan/inheritance/gift

Respondents generally only saved on a short-term basis, or for certain goals such as paying for a
holiday. The pattern was saving for a short time, then emptying the account to pay for something,
and then saving again. The saving may be in a current account or savings account, but some
respondents gave money to their parents to look after so they could not access it themselves.

“I said to my mum, I’ll give this to you, don’t give it back to me… I just gave her my spare change,
a fiver or a tenner.”

Male unemployed, 18-21, living with parents, no further education, E, London

They might also economise on going out or clothes for a few weeks to achieve their desired amount.
Some graduates had also opened Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). Large amounts of inheritance or
student loans for the conservatives living at home had also been invested by parents into ISAs, and
for these people, general information about ISAs and other savings options for amounts between
£1,000 and £5,000 would be welcomed.

Respondents displayed a lack of knowledge on the best ways to save in the short term and how
different types of accounts work – instant access vs. notice/restricted accounts. For example, some
respondents had left their money in their current account as they believed it was more easily
accessible there.

5.3.9 Going to university

For this age group, this is often the first realisation of financial needs for the future. Again their
first port of call was to ask their parents how to fund themselves through university as many knew
that their parents were already saving for their children’s future. Some respondents had planned for
their financial needs at university - working and then saving some of this income towards university
by giving their money to parents, keeping it in their current account or opening a savings account.
Some respondents had spoken to a careers adviser at school whilst others looked into what extra
funding or grants they would be entitled to.

A key consideration was whether to live at home or move out, with respondents examining location
based on the cost of living and the prospect of being able to get a part-time job.

Some students felt they had taken on loans at the beginning of university without understanding the
implications or repayment terms. These individuals would have welcomed more information here,
including how interest and payback works and how to decide whether applying for one is really
necessary. Working part time and the tax implications of this is also something about which few
respondents were currently aware. Other information that young adults would have found useful
included advice on budgeting and saving before going to university and the impact of the various
financial options, such as living at home or applying for grants.

5.3.10 What to do with a student loan

When respondents started university, many of them opened new student bank accounts, making this
decision based upon proximity to campus, free offers and overdraft limits. Some upgraded an
existing current account to a student account with the same bank for the overdraft benefits.

Students living at home often took student loans because they are seen as ‘free money’. The
extreme conservatives would look to invest these, while many others spent this money on their

Living away from their parents was often their first taste of budgeting and often their first
experience of financial problems during their first term, with most overspending and experiencing
money shortages by Christmas. They had not taken into account how far their student loan could
reach and how to budget its use.

“My student loan covers accommodation and not much else – after that I tend to live off my
overdraft or credit cards.”

Male university student, 19, living in halls of residence, C1, London

In these circumstances, assistance was available through the welfare or hardship office and also via
a nightline service, which students mentioned already existed at university as a confidential advice
line. However, for most respondents these sources of information were seen as emergency solutions
only rather than a natural source of general information. Advice on how to manage a student loan
properly, including budgeting, would be useful for some, whilst others preferred to learn by trial
and error with it being difficult to budget before going to university as they were unaware of how
much money various essential items would cost.

5.3.11 Controlling debt

The realisation of debt was often when the interest amount became too much to pay back or
respondents were rejected for further credit occurs. Equally, the commencement of student loan
repayments can often be the first time a student really feels ‘in debt’.

The method of information seeking in this situation was speaking to friends in a similar situation or
to parents, who might have been able to suggest ways to solve their debt problem. They might also
have spoken to their bank (who they perceived to know their personal circumstances) or have
looked to further credit sources to consolidate their debt. During this process, young adults are
seeking down-to-earth advice as to their options and the implications (on the amount of debt and
repayments). There is some fear of consolidation loans due to stories heard in the media and the
type of daytime advertising that this type of company uses, and some reassurance here may be
useful to ensure that a potential solution is not rejected out of hand. During this process, they often
learned for the first time about credit ratings through being refused further credit (for most ratings
were something never considered previously), and advice as to what to do in these situations may
be helpful.

5.3.12 Claiming back tax

Claiming back tax often applied to students and those working part time. Those who knew they
were entitled to this were confused about how to go about it, feeling intimidated by ‘the Taxman’.
In some cases they were not even aware they were entitled to claim tax back.

“They stung me for £500, and I don’t even know how to get it back.”
Female worker, 21-24, living with parents, no further education, C2D, Manchester

Generally respondents asked parents for help, or asked at work. Some had been to the Inland
Revenue website or had telephoned them, whilst others had done nothing about it even though they
knew they were owed money.

Few are aware at this stage in their life as to how tax and National Insurance (NI) work – what they
should be paying, the implications of tax codes and NI numbers, and the role of the various
government offices in the process. Awareness that part-time workers can claim tax back is
relatively low, and the process is confusing.

5.3.13 Saving for the future

This is a rare occurrence except for the extreme conservative minority and Asian families. Saving is
done to provide security for the future, bearing in the mind the amount of money now required for
a house deposit. There is also some consideration of saving before going to university, but usually
only small amounts. There were three respondents who had pensions that were offered by their
companies. By no means had they sought these out, but rather had signed up because they were
advised to by colleagues and because they could afford the monthly payments. On occasions,
parents opened an ISA or savings account on their behalf to save inheritance money.

“I’ve got a pension but I only opened it because someone at work told me it was a good idea. I
don’t know anything about it.”
Female worker, 20, living with parents, no further education, C2, London

Young people expressed very little need for immediate information about saving for the future
because it is simply not something that most respondents were ready to do. However, this is not to
say young people were not aware that they would need to save for a pension in the future, but for
many it was some way off.

6. Current communication, provision and sources of
financial information

As discussed in Section 5, the typical 18-24 year old only seeks financial information when they are
in a spending context. They decide that they want something, and then look at the ways they can
obtain it. The primary goal is the purchase, with the financial implications being very much a
secondary consideration.

Those who had embarked on a search for financial information followed a very simple pattern,
regardless of whether they were hedonistic or conservative. This generally consisted of:

• asking parents first;

• then asking friends and their wider personal network;

• then asking at their bank or using the Internet, depending on personal preference (the majority
would opt for the Internet if available); and finally

• asking a financial adviser (used on very few occasions and only for a house purchase or a large

For students, the welfare office is seen as a trustworthy place to seek information, if they are in
financial difficulty. However, it is not somewhere that they think about getting general personal
finance information or somewhere that they would go outside of an emergency.

Beyond this simple route, many had come across financial information leaflets; however, the
barriers of jargon and lack of engagement means they are rarely a considered source of

6.1 Parents and the wider personal network

The first place respondents would go to for advice is, with few exceptions, parents. If parents are
unable to help, they will ask other people they know, such as family members, friends or their
partner. Parents are able to explain the basics so that if they then move on to other sources, they
are approaching these with at least some knowledge which prevents confusion or potential
embarrassment in front of others, for example bank staff.

6.2 The bank

Most respondents believed that the bank knew their situation and would provide them with a
solution – this was despite the fact that banks may not be trusted to be pursuing the customer’s
best interests. The bank was able to provide all of the details they were looking for and the
interactive face-to-face element meant they felt able to ask questions. Young adults’ lack of
understanding of the basics, or in some cases laziness, meant they were unwilling to read financial
materials, whatever the format, and so preferred speaking to someone in their branch. Despite the
fact that they felt themselves to have little knowledge of finance, they still believed they were able
to discriminate between factual information and someone trying to sell them something.

6.3 The Internet

Most respondents believed that the Internet holds the answers to any question they might have.
However, jargon and difficulty in finding exact answers mean that it is not always a reliable
solution. When searching, it was difficult to find websites that were truly independent and not
merely interested in selling something. The patterns exhibited by respondents using the Internet
were very similar. The most popular sites were:

• Google (and whatever appears);

• their own bank website;

• comparison sites - e.g. www.which.co.uk and moneysupermarket.com;

• commercial sites; and

• the student loans website (visited by students).

The credibility of websites differed slightly depending on the address. Addresses ending with .org,
.net, .gov and .ac (for students) offered more credibility than addresses ending in .co.uk or .com,
as the latter imply that they were selling something.

6.4 Financial advisers

A minority used financial advisers for events such as mortgage selection or to help with investing
large amounts of cash they may have gained or inherited. The adviser was often recommended by
parents and/or friends and young people did not know how to find an adviser or whether to trust
them. Importantly, in all cases, all decision-making responsibility was deferred to the adviser.

6.5 Student welfare office

The student welfare office was often seen as a general information source for the student
respondents. However, for finance, it was mainly perceived to be a place where you could obtain
more ‘free money’ or emergency help when in trouble, and very few had actually used it. Advice
that students had been given prior to university, at school or during freshers’ week had largely been
ignored due to a lack of interest.

7. Perceptions of current financial information

There is low awareness of any written financial information that is targeted specifically at young
people. The only exception is students, who find a plethora of information directed at them, both
financial and otherwise.

During the ethnographic discussions, respondents were shown a range of materials from banks,
direct mail and the Internet to gain their responses to the content, tone and format of the

7.1 Written material

For those that had attempted to seek information in the past, many had found it intimidating due to
their lack of understanding of the jargon and/or the basic concepts of interest or percentages.
Others found it a very dull task and as a result, even if it was picked up, the information was very
rarely used. Thus written material was largely rejected due to inaccessibility both in terms of
understanding of jargon and perceived relevance.

Our respondents showed preference to materials that followed the following rules.

• Simple layout and terminology

• Informal language (spoken word)

• Easy to navigate and well signposted

• Bullet points used rather than continuous prose

• Real money values, as opposed to percentages

• Simple tables rather than complex graphs

• Some photos or graphics to make the information accessible, but not overly simplified or

7.2 The Internet

Compared to written material, the Internet was often preferable as an information source. During
the ethnographic sessions, respondents were shown and encouraged to navigate through some
specific websites.

The websites shown to the respondents were chosen for specific reasons. Frank, a youth drug
information service was chosen at it highlights a topical issue affecting young people, and is aimed
specifically at this age group. The One Life website provided by Radio 1 was shown as it has a
specific financial section aimed at young people. The FSA’s own consumer website was also
examined as a comparison tool although it is not aimed at the 18-24 age group but is in fact
targeted more at adults.

7.2.1 Frank (www.talktofrank.com)

Frank is a drug information service and helpline for young people. Most respondents had heard of
Frank (although not used it) and considered it a good example of how to raise awareness of an issue
and provide an accessible, engaging solution. Frank had carried out a successful advertising
campaign using television, phone booths and club style flyers at colleges; thus it had captured the
attention of this age group.

As a brand, Frank was seen as approachable, youthful and simple, which is key to engaging this
audience. Respondents found the website easy to navigate and well structured. It has achieved the
task of making a serious subject light hearted, helped by the cartoons and interactive games,
achieving a friendlier and involving experience. It also has a direct helpline if you need further
information that the website can not provide.

7.2.2 Radio 1 – One Life (www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/onelife)

This is a website provided by Radio 1 which gives advice on a variety of subjects such as travel,
work, health and legal issues. It also has a dedicated section about finance which includes advice
about banking, debt, mortgages and tax for example. It is aimed at a youth audience, from school-
age children up to graduates and beyond.

There was a lack of awareness of this website, and some confusion over why Radio 1 would be
providing such a website. Despite this, it was felt to be a strong solution. Respondents felt that it
was aimed at them and that the tone and the language used talked directly to them without using
jargon. It is also unbiased, being from the BBC, and the layout was found to be easy to navigate.
However, for some, it was overly simplistic in its approach, whilst others thought it was confusing
the Radio 1 brand by diversifying into a different area.

The budgeting section was particularly successful, with the feeling that it displayed highly relevant
costs that people of this age group would incur, such as DVDs or gym membership. It is clearly
targeted at their age, whatever their circumstances, allowing for income such as salary, student
loan or jobseekers’ allowance.

7.2.3 FSA Consumer Information Site (www.fsa.gov.uk/consumer)

This website can also be reached by a link from the main FSA website. The website is not targeted
at any specific age group.

Most of the respondents had never heard of the FSA, and none had visited this website. As a brand it
is intimidating and overly corporate for this age group, and this is reflected in the website
approach. It was not felt to be suitable for young people, appearing serious, dull, and confusing,
and was heavy on its use of text. The search engine was not helpful, providing confusing results and
seemingly not answering queries. If accessing the consumer site via the main FSA site, it is difficult
to find the relevant link.

The website it was felt to be easy to navigate via the menu bar which is present on all of the pages.
The ‘question and answer’ and ‘do’s and don’ts’ styles used in some sections were useful, but in
reality young people would probably have not stayed in the site long enough to locate them.

The budgeting section was not felt to be as useful as the One Life budget calculator. The categories
were very generic and not felt to target young people at all in terms of the items listed and the
language used. There were also too few categories meaning it was quite complicated to use.

7.3 Intermediaries

The FSA and its partners are keen to use intermediaries to reach the 18-24 age group. This idea was
described to the respondents in the mini groups and triads. This would encapsulate youth clubs, the
Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), schools, higher education and further education institutes including
student services, and any other voluntary or community-based intermediaries.

Overall, these respondents, who were for the most part in the mainstream young-adult market, had
little to no engagement or experience with intermediaries. Indeed they felt that they would be
something that those excluded from society would use – thus, most respondents were unlikely to
approach these sources of advice unless in dire need.

Unemployed respondents that had been to a youth club when they were younger gave examples of
when they would misbehave during educational sessions. These are places associated with fun, and
are not a place that respondents would expect to find out about finance.

“[In youth clubs] you just want to mess about with friends.”
Male unemployed, 18-21, living with parents, no further education, E, London

One unemployed respondent had telephoned the CAB after a former employer withheld his wages
and he needed advice on how to get them back. He was too lazy, or possibly intimidated, to go to
the centre itself, preferring to telephone them. This experience echoes the general view by
respondents that the CAB is there to resolve legal issues rather than somewhere they would go to
seek financial information and advice.

Amongst students there was a high awareness of the existence of a student support or welfare
office. Many had never visited it, and those who had, had paid a quick visit to collect forms for an
emergency loan or to enquire what extra grants they may be entitled to – i.e. its role was on
‘rescue’ rather than prevention/education. Amongst all the students and graduates there was a
perception that the student support office was associated with gaining extra money, or for students
who were having serious financial problems. It, too, was not seen as somewhere to go for general
financial advice.

7.4 Respondent suggested communication

Respondents suggested spontaneously several ways that they thought were the most effective ways
to reach them.

A TV advertising campaign was the most frequent response from the respondents. Advertisements
using shock tactics (in the manner of the recent road safety campaign adverts) were suggested,
which could illustrate the consequences of getting into debt.

There was mention of Channel 4’s recent campaign related to the general election, which brought
politics to this age group, and reality TV shows such as BBC 1’s Bailiffs, which was consistently
mentioned as a way to learn about the consequences of debt.

While television is often mentioned by respondents when asked about how information might reach
them, there is often a need to assess carefully whether this would be a cost-effective approach.

Other ideas included a finance clinic, where you could drop in for advice within the community, and
a national youth finance day to try to capture the attention of this age group.

Universities could hold compulsory lectures providing handouts for students to take away. Key times
to do this would be at the beginning of university as students adjust, and towards the end, as
students consider taking on financial responsibilities. Respondents also spontaneously suggested
that advice might be better received from other students, thus the idea arose of ‘student IFAs’.
These would be students educated to provide advice for other students, making the subject more
approachable. However uptake of this idea might be low due to student apathy.

7.5 Levels of understanding, relevance and usefulness of financial

In the sample interviewed for this research, it was clear that individuals were not engaging in
financial information currently provided to them, almost irrespective of source. The main reason for
this was that they did not recognise any need to consider this information in the first place (with
the possible exception of mortgages). Thus the material and approaches being made are failing to
establish relevance or meaning with this audience and so are immediately dismissed (before the
content is even considered).

This is a major issue when communicating this type of information to this audience, and is
something that requires a lot of consideration. The initial approach must immediately establish a
‘connection’ with young adults. Perhaps the most obvious way of doing this is focusing on the end
goal (i.e. the purchase) and/or reflecting their priorities and key financial touch-points more closely
with the material, taking a benefit-led approach to generate interest (i.e. highlighting what can be
gained rather than simply relying on an educational or a need-to-know approach).

When individuals were encouraged to read the information currently provided by institutions, none
of it was felt to be targeted specifically at young adults. Rather it takes a more ‘adult’ tone and
uses terminology and jargon which is unfamiliar to young people. This situation may change over
time with the introduction of financial education in schools, but this is likely to be a slow process.
As a result young adults felt disenfranchised, and were unlikely to make the effort to decipher the
information given. In terms of tone and style, the Frank and Radio 1 websites are good role models
for the approach that is acceptable for this audience. Interestingly, whilst the Radio 1 approach was
liked, the site was felt to be rather obscure (subsumed in the bigger Radio 1 brand) and therefore
many were unlikely to spontaneously find their way to the information. This again underlines the
need to establish prominence in young adults minds of the benefits to them of this type of
information and then provide avenues which are obvious and easily accessible (i.e. akin to the
awareness of the Frank website).

As a result of the lack of perceived relevance, compounded by the difficulty in understanding the
material, usefulness of current information was inevitably felt to be low.

8. Barriers when delivering financial messages to this

There are several key barriers when providing this audience with financial messages which underpin
responses and behaviour towards this area. These are discussed at various points throughout this
report and have far-reaching effect across financial information needs, engagement and decisions.
We have pulled together the main underlying issues that need to be addressed in this section.

• Parents and personal networks dominate as key information sources

With a large proportion of this age group living at home, the main source of information is their
parents from whom they seek advice or even defer to them any decisions which seem overly
complicated. The people in this age group, with their carefree attitude, take the easiest path
to their end goal via these informal information sources. This creates a barrier in providing
information directly to young people themselves. Beyond parents, most young adults are
somewhat at a loss and lack a natural financial reference point – the bank is probably the
default option.

Other potential places or channels which could be used to offer financial information have
specific barriers relating to them, often centring on their perceptions of those places.
Students, for example, see the welfare or finance office not as somewhere to gain advice, but
as somewhere for ‘free’ money or when in dire straits. The CAB is not somewhere young people
would consider going as a rule, but if they did it would be for particular job-related or legal
advice, not for financial information. Any messages provided through these intermediaries
would need to be carefully targeted or they risk being missed.

• Lack of recognition of need

The main difficulty is that this target group lacks the desire to receive, or engage with, these
messages. This attitude is driven by that fact that many do not think that they need any
financial information and so do not actively seek information nor engage with any messages
aimed at them.

Few have any ‘real’ financial responsibility and feel that they are living in carefree times and
so often believe that financial information is not useful for them. They think the first major
financial engagement they will take on is a mortgage and for many this is several years away,
leaving them with a relatively carefree attitude towards finance. For example, in the case of
those with debt, although young people know that this is something they will have to sort out
in the future it is not something they worry about yet, making it difficult to make them

• End-focused, consumerist attitude
Closely linked with the lack of recognition of need is the focus of these individuals on the end
purchase. Their primary goal is in achieving ownership, and the financial underpinning is
secondary to this. This means that often the financing arrangements are given cursory
attention at best at the point of purchase, seen purely as a means to an end. This is evidenced
by the lack of concern shown about the finances, the absence of any shopping around for the
best deals and the lack of interrogation of the information provided. It is not until something
happens to bring attention to the finances that the respondent begins to question exactly what
it is they have bought.

• Information is unfamiliar and intimidating

As evidenced by comments throughout the research, young adults do not engage in traditional
financial information currently provided by companies. The material often uses industry jargon
and terminology which is unfamiliar and outside of the experience of this audience; they are
simply unable to interpret the information as they do not have the basic tools in place to do so.

• Information does not engage

The material produced by financial institutions is not specifically targeted at this audience.
Tonally the material is too ‘adult’ – it is considered to be lengthy, conservative, over wordy
and boring. The approach adopted does not tap into the preoccupations and concerns of this
age group – the need to spend and to be seen to be ‘clever’ with money. Instead, material
should take a more benefit-led approach, focusing on the advantages that young people can
gain as a result of a little preparation, and moving away from the currently perceived style of
giving information for information’s sake.

These barriers underline the importance of providing information that is relevant and that
establishes the need for information before trying to educate. It needs to reflect the priorities and
concerns of this age group in order for them to pay attention.

9. Developing financial messages for young adults

It is clear from this research that, in general, mainstream youth have a lack of basic financial
knowledge. They therefore find the area intimidating and somewhat boring, and as a result fail to
engage with financial information. When thinking how to overcome these barriers, a number of
considerations need to be borne in mind.

The key barrier to current engagement with financial messages is the lack of appreciation of the
need to know and therefore lack of desire to engage. Young people are short-termist, see
themselves as carefree and are focused on the end goal/purchase - the financial vehicle used to
achieve this is of secondary importance. The challenge here is not what to provide but how to
provide it, in order to reach the 18-24 age group and to make them begin to seek this information
for themselves and, importantly, recognise the need in the first place.

Repositioning the way in which financial messages are delivered to focus on a benefit-led approach,
highlighting what young adults can gain, both practically (e.g. choosing the right financial product
will cost you less which means you can spend more) and emotionally (being clever with your money
and beat the system) will help to raise the profile of finances generally with this audience. Within
this, highlighting that even relatively minor financial decisions can have an impact on lifestyle will
help to encourage greater consideration of decisions which are currently perceived as unimportant.

In itself this indicates that a new approach to the style and tone of messages needs to be adopted.
Current ‘sensible’ material is not working and is not seen as being targeted at this audience.
Something closer to the informal style of Frank and/or the One Life website is required. Lessons can
be learned from the branding and communication of the Frank website to raise awareness of any
solution. Interactivity is more personalised and enjoyable, thus websites and helplines are key. The
tone should not be patronising, hence the appeal of the One Life website for its down-to-earth

Visually, the material needs to be simple and well signposted, with information presented in short,
bite-sized chunks (i.e. bullet points rather than prose), so that young adults are not put off by the
material itself. Avoiding even basic jargon is essential. In terms of type of information, the
respondents appeared to engage with financial information for several reasons beyond a basic
product need: those who are having difficulties and need help; those who want to be ‘smart’ with
their money; and those starting their own business. Beyond this, there is little to suggest that
mainstream youth requires specific communication. For example, the first time house buyer has
similar requirements, whatever their age.

Timing of communication is a very difficult issue. The key need is for the provision of information
surrounding the basics of finance and financial products in an easily accessible form. However, at
the moment this age group seeks information when they have a specific requirement, so making
them engage with other financial information at other times is a challenge. This probably needs a
multi-pronged approach – pre, at and post purchase. However the nature of information will be
different – pre and during purchase will be more ‘educational’ in nature, whereas post purchase
could focus more on troubleshooting.

One of the major barriers to imparting financial information to this audience is actually reaching
them. Most people defer to their parents and personal networks before using any formal sources of
help and advice, and any strategy needs to take this into account. Beyond this, most mainstream
young adults would then approach their bank (they are accessible and offer face-to-face advice)
and/or conduct an Internet search. Many intermediaries dealing with adults of this age are centred
on a specific issue and so, inevitably, will only be able to reach a proportion of the total audience.
Therefore, direct communication to raise awareness of this information is essential. Advertising or
communication via schools, universities or banks would reach this age group directly, and beyond
this a website and helpline provide the most potential to engage this audience, providing that the
website uses an appropriate tone and language. Such areas are stated because they form gathering
points for young people; however, getting them to access and engage with the information is the

A range of subjects such as maths, PSHE, citizenship, business studies and careers education all
offer good opportunities and contexts for exploring and improving young people's understanding of
financial issues21. Whilst evidence suggests that few respondents listened to information such as this
at school, they may remember the messages and recall them at a later date.

Further or higher education establishments offer contact points through welfare or hardship offices,
but the perception of these currently is of a source for more money rather than for education. Many
graduate respondents said they would have valued a compulsory lecture before they were granted a
student loan to enable them to consider the true need for it.

Workers are a more difficult category to reach. Many are discussing issues with parents rather than
engaging with any other particular sources. An alternative strategy could be to target parents with
information with which to educate their children. This could include basic information and advice
for parents on how to make this information engaging for their children, and could be achieved by
accessible articles in the mainstream press or bank leaflets. Whatever the information is, it needs
to be related to young people's spending need and their desire to be ‘clever’ with money.

DfES, 14-19 Education and Skills White Paper, February 2005, Chapter 5. This applies to England

Appendix 1: Discussion guide for ethnographic sessions

Key objectives

• To understand the financial information needs of young adults

By this we mean what financial knowledge and information are they looking for in general
terms, and also specific information relating to any financial decisions they have to make
during this lifestage.

• To understand the best way to communicate this information to young adults

This could be directly via print, radio, TV and the web; via other people though the formal
channels of banks, advice centres, the workplace and schools; or via informal channels such as
family, friends or youth workers.

Research approach

The interview is structured to understand the respondents’ current financial situation and to
explore the above objectives within this framework, using recent experiences or near future plans
to explore information needs and gaps.

During the session you should aim to explore current examples of communication that the
respondent has collected and also from the stimulus provided. Spend time exploring respondent
lifestyle to get a picture of them, and draw financial discussions back to real life situations.

Where relevant, conduct an accompanied web-surf to explore online options. Also, where
appropriate (couples, houseshare or parents), include other members of the household to get a
bigger picture. Interview couples separately and together to explore the dynamics of the financial

Filming instructions

Filming should be kept to a minimum during the sessions – film key quotes and key activities. Key
areas to film include:

• respondent introduction;

• summaries of key areas;

• tour of the house including areas where financial information is stored;

• reporting back on homework areas; and

• conclusions.


Introduce yourself. Explain that you will be with them for three hours, during which time you hope
to get to know a bit about them and to have time to explore a bit about their financial information.
Explain the reason for three hours is to have a more informal conversation and to cover lots of
ground. Explain that during the three hours there will be conversation and a chance to look through
the project pack we sent to them to complete. Tell them that you may use the Internet whilst you
are there to have a look at some information and you may also interview their housemates or
parents. Tell them you will also film bits of the interview and that the clips may be used in our final
presentation to the client. Reassure concerning confidentiality especially concerning financial

Ask respondent to introduce themselves.

• Who are they? What do they do? What things are they into?

• Where do they live? How long have they lived there?

− Get them to show you round the house. Explore where they spend time and what they do.

• Who do they live there with?

− Explore details of their housemates/family. What does each of them do? Where? Why? What
is their relationship with that person?

• What is the area they live in like?

− Where do they go regularly? What do they do when they are out and about? Who do they
spend time with in the area? Explore details of key friends? What is their relationship and
activities with each like?

• Explore a typical week.

− Weekdays (daytimes, lunch hours, evenings) and weekends.

• Explore all hobbies, interests and activities.

− What? Why? How long have they been doing that? How often?

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

Their financial situation

Aim to get an overview of their attitudes, income and expenditure. Explore budgeting, banks and
credit cards and relevant information.

Explain that we are going to discuss their financial situation – their income, expenditure, etc. Ask
them if they have anywhere that they keep/get financial information, and if so to show you
(including web-surf?) FILM - ask them to keep the information to hand if they like to explain/show
you relevant information when having discussions.

Explore all income sources.

• How much income do they have each week/month?

− Explore all sources.

• Where do they keep this money?

− Why? How did they go about choosing to do this?

• Do they save?
− How long have they saved for? What are they saving towards? If banking, explore all
accounts (current, savings, etc). How long had? When opened? How chose that account? Why
made that decision? Who helped? What information did they need? Where from? Is there
information they now wish they had had?

− If forced to change bank, what would they look for? Interest rates, online banking, cool
card, freebies?

• Where would they look for advice and help? What would they want to know?

• How would they help a friend without a bank account choose an account? Explore current vs.
savings vs. other accounts (e.g. ISAs)

• Explore relationship with bank.

− How happy are they? How decide? What contact do they have? How do they do this? How
describe relationship?

− Personify bank. What information does their bank supply? Do they read it? What do they
think of it? Do they have examples?

− Explore understanding. Accessibility? Communication style? Explore pros, cons and


What do they spend their money on?

• Explore all expenditure.

− Living costs, day-to-day expenditure, weekly items, monthly things, big things they bought
(get them to show you). Note each item to discus financing of purchasing later on.

• Explore means of spending.

− Cash, debit cards, credit cards, hire purchase. For each ask: do they use? What for? How do
they decide? Where do they get info about these things? Explore attitude to each.

− If they use credit cards, get them to show you. Why did they get it? Why did they choose
that particular one? Who helped? What information did they need? Where from? Is there
information they now wish they had had?

− What advice would they give to someone thinking of getting a credit card? Where else would
they recommend someone looking?

Explore budgeting and financial planning.

• Do they plan or budget around expenditure?

− If yes, how do they plan finances? Explore daily, weekly, monthly, annually.

• How do they decide what they can and can’t afford?

• How did they learn to budget?

− Who do they discuss it with/where did they learn from? Discuss all sources: school, college,
work, parents, friends etc.

• What information have they been told/received that has help them with budgeting? What other
information do they need?

• If they were going to teach a friend how to budget what would they tell them?
− Golden Rules/Do’s and Don’ts lists.

− How long would they recommend budgeting for?

− What things should they take into account?

− To whom/where would you send them for information?

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

Attitudes to money

• How would they describe their general attitude towards money? Are they spenders, savers, easy
going, worriers, etc?
− Where does this come from? Influencers? Personal history? Etc.

• Timeline of changes in attitude. Get them to draw this out (refer to pre-placement). Find out
what key markers have prompted their attitudes to change.

• Who do they discuss money matters with? And who do they avoid talking money with?

• Who and what do they think have had the biggest impacts on shaping their money attitudes and
− Explore role of family. What is their parents’ attitude to money? Is their attitude the same
as their parents’, or in opposition?

− Explore details of similarities and differences? Prompt for differing information they have
received. Where did it come from? Impact? How does their generation differ to previous
generations in terms of attitudes to money? What would/wouldn’t older people approve of?

• What about the impact of their friends?

− Amongst their friends is there a norm of money behaviour? Do they discuss? If so, what do
they discuss? Role of different friends?

• What are the money trends set by society at large/role models/celebrities/school?

− Whose attitude do they respect? Who do they aspire to be like?

• What would they describe as a bad attitude to money? Why?

• What is their level of contentment with their relationship with money?

− What attitudes do they want to change?

• What do they think about debt?

− Something to be proud of or ashamed? Do they know people who have debt? Are they/can
they imagine going into debt? Are there different types of debt – overdraft vs. loan vs.
credit card vs. mortgage?

− If they developed debt problems in the future, or they already have debt problems, what
would/did they do about it? Where would/did they look for information on how to solve the
problems? What would/did they want to know? Who would/did they trust? Etc.

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

Their financial future

• What are their hopes for their future generally?

− What role does money play within this? Do they worry about money and their future?

• What are the key points when they think money attitudes will change? Draw out timeline into
the future. Why?

• Explore information sources relating to areas that they mention.

− What are they specifically looking for? Where can they look? Who can they trust? Etc.

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

Financial information points and sources

• What do they think are the big financial decisions/actions that are relevant for young people as
they get older? Probe from leaving school until mid twenties. Record all answers. For each
explore their experience vs. expectations if not arisen.

• What are the key things they need to know around the area? Where will/did they turn for this
(all sources)? How would they best like to receive the information?

• If an event has happened, discuss the experience, learning from it and further information they
would have liked.

• If not mentioned probe around renting or buying a home, running a home, getting a loan, taking
out a hire purchase agreement, buying a car, managing debt, and planning for the future (short-
term saving vs. long-term retirement/kids)

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

Information sources

• Discuss information services mentioned throughout interview (people and institutions media
channels). For each discuss: why have they used that source? What did they think of it? What
makes them trust an information source? Get examples of trusted sources.

Explain that you are there on behalf of the FSA. They are an independent organisation looking to
provide information to young adults in the best way possible, so we are looking for learning to help
them to do this. We have discussed lots about the information and now you are going to look at
some information to try and get a good understanding of what they should and shouldn’t do.

• Top of mind thoughts… what should the FSA do?
− What channels? TV, radio, press, work, school, college, banks, web, printed handouts?

− What key topics?

− Explore how the information would be given.

• Probe using stimulus collected by them or by Synovate.

− Leaflets from NatWest and Lloyds TSB banks.

− Alliance & Leicester loans, Prudential Health private medical insurance, Egg credit card.

• If possible, probe using a selection from the following websites:

− www.aimhigher.ac.uk/student_finance/index.cfm

− www.studentmoney.org/

− www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/onelife/finance

− www.fsa.gov.uk/consumer

− www.phamoney.com/youngppl.html

• What do they think of it?

− How useful? Why? Positives/negatives/improvements?

− Explore style, tone, etc. Would they use it? Why not? Learning for the FSA?

• Explore general communication. What examples of good communication have they collected?
− Why good? Specifics/examples? Positives/negatives/improvements?

− Explore style, tone, etc. Relevance of this learning to financial information and the FSA?

• Explore other information providers e.g. Stop Smoking Service, HIV and STD leaflets.

• If possible, probe using a selection from the following websites:

− www.drinkaware.co.uk

− www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/onelife

− www.thesite.org/

− www.connexions-direct.com (N.B. for 13-19 year olds)

− www.playingsafely.co.uk

− www.givingupsmoking.co.uk/Young_people__smoking

− www.talktofrank.com

• Explore what can be learnt from the way other information is presented, and how this could be
applied to the financial world and topics discussed.

Summarise area and capture to film, prompt respondent to summarise key insights generated.

And finally

Film this section.

• If they were bringing kids up in this world, what advice would they pass on? What behaviour
would they encourage?

• To summarise, what information should be available and how should it be best presented?

• Thank and close interview.

Appendix 2: Discussion guide for mini groups and triads

Introductions (5 minutes)

• Name

• Age

• Living situation

• Job/study

• Interests

• Highlights of the year so far

• How they know each other

• What they get up to together

• Explore relationship of the group

Financial attitudes overview (10 minutes)

• What does money mean to them?

− How important is it? What do they spend their money on?

• How would they describe their general attitude towards money? Are they spenders, savers, easy
going, worriers, etc?
− Where does this come from? What influences them? Who do they discuss money matters
with? And who do they avoid talking about money with? What are the money trends set by
society at large/role models/celebrities/school?

• Do they plan or budget around expenditure?

− If yes, how do they plan finances?

• Do they save/have they saved?

− Why? What for? How did they go about it?

• What means do they use to spend?

− Cash vs. debit card vs. credit card. Why? Which do they use for different situations? Explore
attitudes towards borrowing – credit cards vs. loans vs. hire purchase.

• What does debt mean to them?
− What is debt? Have they been or do they know people in debt? How do they feel about it?

Financial information sources (10 minutes)

• Have they looked for information about money or finance in the past?
− What information? Where did they look? Why did they go there?

• What other information can they imagine looking for in the future?
− Where do they imagine looking? Why?

• Probe around differences between sources: parents, banks, friends, college (who at college?) or
other intermediary (who?).
− When would they use different sources? What information would they expect from each?

• Explore engagement point and messages.

− What makes them engage with information? Why?

Financial information specifics (25 minutes)

• Explore list of relevant “I want xxxx” situations (below), and for each ask: what have they
done/what would they do (projection)? What information would they need? Where might this
come from?

− I want to buy a car

− I want to buy something I can’t afford (holiday/furniture)

− I want to get a credit card

− I want to move out of my parents’ home (budgeting for a house)

− I want to buy a house

− I want to save some extra earnings/student loan

− I want to know what to do with inheritance/cash payouts/presents

− I want to go to university

− I need somewhere to put my student loan

− I want to be in control of debt (get out of debt)

− I want to claim back tax

Role of the FSA (10 minutes)

Explain that you are there on behalf of the FSA. They are an independent organisation looking to
provide financial information to young adults in the in the best way possible, so we are looking for
learning to help them to do this.

• Top of mind thoughts… what would they do if they worked at the FSA?
− What sort of information would they try to communicate to people like them?

− How would they get this information to them: TV, radio, press, work, school, college,
banks, web, printed handouts? Other intermediaries (who would this be?)

− What key topic areas? How would they make people like them engage/take interest in the

And finally

• If they were bringing kids up in this world, what advice would they pass on? What behaviour
would they encourage?

• Thank and close interview.

Appendix 3: Sample structure

Working Lives Central

1. 18-20 Male C2D Hedonist
(no further education) out London

Working Lives at Suburban

2. 18-20 Female C2D Conservative
(no further education) home London

3. 21-24 Couple C2D (post further education Undefined Surrey
non-university course)
Lives at
4. 21-24 Female BC1 (post further education Hedonist Croydon
non-university course)
5. 21-24 Male BC1 (post further education Undefined Haydock
university course)
Lives Central
6. 21-24 Couple BC1 (post further education Undefined
out London
university course)

Unemployed Lives at Suburban

7. 18-20 Male E Undefined
(never worked) home London

Unemployed Lives at Central

8. 21-24 Female E Undefined
(worked in past) home London

Studying Lives at Suburban

9. 18-20 Male Conservative
(non-university course) home London

Studying Lives
10. 18-20 Female Undefined Reading
(non-university course) out

Studying Lives at
11. 18-20 Female Undefined Manchester
(university 1st year) home

Studying Lives in Central

12. 18-20 Male Hedonist
(university 1st year) halls London

Studying Lives at
13. 19-24 Male Undefined town near
(university subsequent years) home

Studying Lives Central

14. 19-24 Female Conservative
(university subsequent years) out London

Appendix 4: Ethnographic sessions recruitment questionnaire

Recruitment was carried initially using the Internet screener below. Those who fitted the criteria
were then contacted by a recruiter who asked various questions to ensure the respondents fitted
the required quota.

Internet screener

Thank you for your interest in this Saros project. The following is the screener for our forthcoming
finance research. Please use it to register your interest in the consumer interviews taking place in-
home in various locations around the UK between Tuesday 29 March and Tuesday 12 April 2005.

Please note: you should only apply if you are able to definitely commit the time to attend. A lot of
effort has been invested in this project and to have people cancel or not show up is costly to all
parties involved, and may result in your no longer receiving invitations from Saros.

1. Please could you confirm your name and age.

2. I confirm that neither I nor any of my close family or friends works in advertising, market
research, marketing, public relations, journalism, banking or any other financial institutions also
that I aged between 18-24, and that I am either a British national or long-term resident (more
than eight years)?

• Yes

• No

If you cannot answer yes to these questions, please reply to the invitation email and let us know,
so that we no longer send you inappropriate invitations. We may need to amend your record on
the Saros database.

3. Into which of the following lifestage categories do you fall? Please tick as many as apply.

• I am single and have never/not yet had children.

• I am married or living as part of a couple, and have never/not yet had children.

• I have one or more pre-school-aged children living at home with me.

• I have one or more school-aged children living at home with me.

4. Please indicate below your current living arrangements.

• I live with my parents.

• I live in university halls of residence.

• I am currently renting a property on my own/with a partner or friend(s).

• I own my own home and live with a partner/friend(s).

• Other - please state.

5. What is your current working/studying situation?

• I work full time.

• I work part time.

• I am a student on a college/non-university course.

• I am a student in my first year of my university course.

• I am a student in a subsequent (not first) year of a university course.

• I am currently unemployed.

• Other - please state.

6. If you are working full time, please indicate your level of final education.

• I went straight into work from school and did not complete any form of further/higher
education before starting full-time work.

• I completed a further-education course (not a university course) before starting full-time


• I completed a university course and now work full time.

• Other - please state.

7. With regards to your personal finances and financial decisions, who is responsible for deciding
about them?

• I am solely responsible for my financial decisions.

• Someone else makes the decisions about my finances.

8. When dealing with your finances on a day-to-day basis, which of the statements below would you
say applies to you? [You can choose more than one].

• I like to look ahead and plan for the future financially.

• I am cautious with my money and try to avoid getting into debt as much as possible.

• I am present-focused and financially like to live for today.

• I find it very easy to spend my money.

• I like to save money and I would say that the phrase ‘save for a rainy day’ applies to me.

• ‘Spend, spend, spend’ is a phrase that applies to me.

9. And are you....

• the Saros member to whom this invitation was sent;

• a Saros member to whom this has been forwarded (i.e. not sent an invitation directly); or

• a friend/colleague/relative (not registered with Saros) to whom this has been forwarded.

Please answer as accurately as possible so we can trace your Registration ID, especially if you
were not sent the invitation directly.

10. Please give us the best daytime phone number(s) to reach you on, and if you are new to Saros
(i.e. this has been forwarded to you), then please let us have an email address as well. The
easier it is to get hold of you, the greater your chances of selection for the next stage! We look
forward to talking to you soon.

Please do not press return to separate your details or they cannot be retrieved and we will be
unable to contact you!

I state that the above information is factually correct and that I wish to be contacted regarding
further research on this subject. I understand that the research I participate in may be video and
audio recorded, for use in research purposes only and without identifying me, in accordance with
the Market Research Society code of conduct. Submission of this form indicates my consent to
this process.

Additional questions

• What is your occupation (if working) or subject (if a student)?

• What are your present living arrangements?

• What is your final level of education?

• Are you in the process of doing any of the following?

− Managing money/budgeting.

− Buying a home.

− Renting a home.

− Running a home.

− Buying a car.

− Managing debt.

• At present, are you saving for anything in particular (short term/long term)?

• What is your address?

Respondents were also asked to agree or disagree with statements to discover if they were a
hedonist or a conservative, and it was checked that they were happy to complete the pre-task and
were prepared to discuss finances.

Appendix 5: Mini-groups recruitment questionnaire

Recruitment questionnaire


QA. Which member of your household (either yourself A .............................. V RECRUIT

or related to you) would you say is the CHIEF INCOME B .............................. X AS
EARNER? That is the person with the largest income, C1............................. 0 QUOTA
whether from employment, pensions, state benefits, C2............................. 1
investments or any other source. D .............................. 2
E .............................. 3
Self ‰ Spouse/partner ‰
Other adult (specify): ‰ ___________ MARITAL STATUS

QB. Which of the following is the CHIEF INCOME EARNER? Single ......................... V
(24) Married/living together ... X
Other ......................... 0
Working (either full or part time) ............. 1
Retired/not working with PRIVATE SEX
PENSION/MEANS ...................................2 ASK QC
Unemployed less than six months ............. 3 Male .......................... V RECRUIT
Female ....................... X A MIX

Unemployed more than six months.............4 CODE

Retired with STATE BENEFIT/PENSION ONLY..5 SOC. GDE AGE last birthday (WRITE IN) ____________
Not working with STATE BENEFIT ONLY........6 AS ‘E’
18 - 21........................ V RECRUIT
22 - 24 ....................... X AS QUOTA
A student ...........................................7 CODE
AS ‘C1’
QC. OCCUPATION OF CHIEF INCOME EARNER 25 or over ................... 0 CLOSE C

Job title:.............................................................
Job description: ....................................................
Industry: ............................................................. WORKING STATUS
Size of company: ...................................................
Qualifications: ...................................................... Full time (30+ hrs/wk)..... V RECRUIT
If manager/supervisor/self-employed, Part time (8-29 hrs/wk) ... X AS
number of people responsible for: .............................. Not working ................. 0 QUOTA
Student....................... 1 (see Q3)

QD. What is your own occupation? ..............................

SIGNED: ____________________________________ (project manager) DATED: _____/_____/_____

QA. I am conducting a market-research survey on behalf of Synovate, and have to find people in
certain trades and professions. Do you or any of your close family work or have worked in the
recent past in any of the following professions? SHOWCARD A (see page 72 for showcard).

No X Go to QB

QB. Have you EVER attended a group discussion or depth interview before?

Yes V Go to QC
No X Go to Q1

QC. Have you been to a group discussion or depth interview in the last six months?

No X Go to QD

QD. How many group discussions/depth interviews have you been to in the last two years (i.e. six
months to two years ago)?

None V Go to QE
1 or 2 X Go to QF
3 0 Go to QF
More than 3 1 CLOSE

QE. Did you go to any groups/depths between two and seven years ago?

Yes V Go to QF
No X Go to Q1

QF. What was the subject of the discussion group/depths you took part in the past?







(NB: If you have any queries at all, please call your Regional Manager)

• At least one-third of each group/set of depths must be brand new recruits.

• The remaining two-thirds can have attended up to a maximum of three groups/depths in the
last two years (i.e. six months to two years ago).
• Those who have been to three groups/depths in the last two years must have had a five-year
gap before that.
• None to have attended any group/depths in last six months.
• None ever to have attended any group/depths on the same subject matter.
• None to work in our have family or close friends who work in any of the excluded occupations
listed on showcard A.

Q1. Are you the main financial decision maker with regard to being responsible yourself for your
own money and money decisions?


Q2. Have you recently purchased, or do you currently have a need for, a financial
product/situation relating to the following list?

Managing money/budgeting V
Buying a home X
Renting a home 0
Running a home 1 RECRUIT A
Buying a car 2 SPREAD
Managing debt 3
Planning for the future (short term, e.g. saving for a large purchase) 4
Planning for the future (long term, e.g. retirement) 5

Q3. What is the highest level of education you have completed?

A-level X
HND/GNVQ/vocational 0
Degree 1
Masters 2
Phd or higher 3
None of these 4

Q4. How would you describe your living arrangements?

Live at home with parents V

Living in university halls/shared accommodation X
Live away from parental home 0

Youth mini groups

• 60 minutes
• Mixed gender
• Friendship cells
• Four respondents in each
• Recruiter’s home/viewing

Mixed Live with 11.05.05 –
1. 18-21 C1C2 (further education – Manchester
gender parents 6.30pm
non uni/not A-levels)

Live in
Mixed 11.05.05 –
4. 21-24 BC1 Studying at university halls/shared Manchester
gender 7.30pm

Mixed Working Live with 11.05.05 –

5. 21-24 C2D Manchester
gender (no further education) parents 8.30pm

Mixed Working Live away from 12.05.05 –
2. 18-21 C2D London
gender (no further education) parental home 6.30pm

Mixed: at home Central

Mixed 12.05.05 –
3. 18-21 E Unemployed and away from London
gender 7.30pm
home (viewed)

Working Central
Mixed Live away from 12.05.05 –
6. 21-24 BC1 (post further London
gender parental home 8.30pm
education – university) (viewed)

All respondents to:

• be the main financial decision maker in terms of being responsible themselves for their own
money and money decisions; and

• have recently made a financial product purchase or have a current need for a financial product
relating to the following list (ideally a spread across the sample): managing money/budgeting,
buying/renting a home, running a home, buying a car, managing debt, or planning for the
future (short term, e.g. saving for a large purchase or long term, e.g. retirement).

FULL NAME OF RESPONDENT: _______________________________________________

HOME ADDRESS: __________________________________________________________


__________________________________________ POST CODE: __________________



SIGNATURE OF PARENT/GUARDIAN: _____________________________________

TEL NO. (HOME): ________________________ (WORK): _________________________

BEST TIME TO CONTACT (HOME): ____________AM/PM (WORK): ______________AM/PM

HOW RECRUITED (E.G. STREET/TELEPHONE ETC): _______________________________

DAY, DATE AND TIME OF GROUP/DEPTH: ______________________________________


Please PRINT CLEARLY this information onto your contact sheets and send the top copy
to your Regional Manager with your pay claim.

I declare that I have carried out the interview in full, face to face with the person
named above and/or according to your instructions, the interviewer's manual and the
MRS Code of Conduct.

Signed: ______________________________________ Date: _____________________

Interviewer’s name (please print name in full): _________________________________

SHOWCARD A - job no

• Publicity/advertising agencies

• Creative and design agencies/consultancies

• Direct marketing consultancies

• Media independents

• Outdoor specialists (i.e. poster advertising)

• Public relations

• Journalism (TV/press/radio)

• Marketing/market research

• Sales promotion agencies

• Corporate identity companies

• Financial services

• Banking

Appendix 6: Triad recruitment questionnaire

Recruitment questionnaire


QA. Which member of your household (either yourself A .............................. V RECRUIT

or related to you) would you say is the CHIEF INCOME B .............................. X AS
EARNER? That is the person with the largest income, C1............................. 0 QUOTA
whether from employment, pensions, state benefits, C2............................. 1
investments or any other source. D .............................. 2
E .............................. 3
Self ‰ Spouse/partner ‰
Other adult (specify): ‰ ___________ MARITAL STATUS

QB. Which of the following is the CHIEF INCOME EARNER? Single ......................... V
(24) Married/living together ... X
Other ......................... 0
Working (either full or part time) ............. 1
Retired/not working with PRIVATE SEX
PENSION/MEANS ...................................2 ASK QC
Unemployed less than six months ............. 3 Male .......................... V
Female ....................... X

Unemployed more than six months.............4 CODE

Retired with STATE BENEFIT/PENSION ONLY..5 SOC. GDE AGE last birthday (WRITE IN) ____________
Not working with STATE BENEFIT ONLY........6 AS ‘E’
18 - 21........................ V RECRUIT
22 - 24 ....................... X AS QUOTA
A student ...........................................7 CODE
AS ‘C1’
QC. OCCUPATION OF CHIEF INCOME EARNER 25 or over ................... 0 CLOSE C

Job title:.............................................................
Job description: ....................................................
Industry: ............................................................. WORKING STATUS
Size of company: ...................................................
Qualifications: ...................................................... Full time (30+ hrs/wk)..... V CONTINUE
If manager/supervisor/self-employed,
number of people responsible for: ..............................
Part time (8-29 hrs/wk) ... X
Student....................... 1(see Q3)
QD. What is your own occupation? ..............................

SIGNED: ____________________________________ (project manager) DATED: _____/_____/_____

QA. I am conducting a market-research survey on behalf of Synovate, and have to find people in
certain trades and professions. Do you or any of your close family work or have worked in the
recent past in any of the following professions? SHOWCARD A (see page 78 for showcard).

No X Go to QB

QB. Have you EVER attended a group discussion or depth interview before?

Yes V Go to QC
No X Go to Q1

QC. Have you been to a group discussion or depth interview in the last six months?

No X Go to QD

QD. How many group discussions/depth interviews have you been to in the last two years (i.e. six
months to two years ago)?

None V Go to QE
1 or 2 X Go to QF
3 0 Go to QF
More than 3 1 CLOSE

QE. Did you go to any groups/depths between two and seven years ago?

Yes V Go to QF
No X Go to Q1

QF. What was the subject of the discussion group/depths you took part in the past?







(NB: If you have any queries at all, please call your Regional Manager)

• At least one-third of each group/set of depths must be brand new recruits.

• The remaining two-thirds can have attended up to a maximum of three groups/depths in the
last two years (i.e. six months to two years ago).
• Those who have been to three groups/depths in the last two years must have had a five-year
gap before that.
• None to have attended any group/depths in last six months.
• None ever to have attended any group/depths on the same subject matter.
• None to work in our have family or close friends who work in any of the excluded occupations
listed on showcard A.

Q1. Are you the main financial decision maker with regard to being responsible yourself for your
own money and money decisions?


Q2. Have you recently purchased, or do you currently have a need for, a financial
product/situation relating to the following list?

Managing money/budgeting V
Buying a home X
Renting a home 0
Running a home 1 RECRUIT A
Buying a car 2 SPREAD
Managing debt 3
Planning for the future (short term, e.g. saving for a large purchase) 4
Planning for the future (long term, e.g. retirement) 5


Q3. Do you originate from the Caribbean or Africa?

Africa 1 CLOSE
Caribbean 2 RECRUIT


Q4. Do you originate from Asia or the Indian Subcontinent?


Q5. How would you describe your religious affiliation?


Sikh 3 CLOSE
Christian 4 CLOSE
Jewish 5 CLOSE
Other 6 CLOSE

Asian FEMALES must be MUSLIM. Asian MALES must be HINDU.

Future contact: All recruits MUST be asked the following: may we contact you again within the next
12 months for further questions on this or similar research?

Yes V
No X

Ethnic triads

• 60 minutes
• Single gender
• Friendship cells
• Three respondents in each
• Socio-economic group to fall out (NB both groups on each evening to be different socio-
economic groups)
• In recruiter’s home

Black Afro-Caribbean
1. 18-21 Male Employed London 10.05.05 – 6.30pm
Black Afro-Caribbean
2. 21-24 Female Employed London 10.05.05 – 7.30pm

3. 18-21 Female Asian Muslim Employed London 11.05.05 – 6.30pm

4. 21-24 Male Asian Hindu Employed London 11.05.05 – 7.30pm

FULL NAME OF RESPONDENT: _______________________________________________

HOME ADDRESS: __________________________________________________________


__________________________________________ POST CODE: __________________



SIGNATURE OF PARENT/GUARDIAN: _____________________________________

TEL NO. (HOME): ________________________ (WORK): _________________________

BEST TIME TO CONTACT (HOME): ____________AM/PM (WORK): ______________AM/PM

HOW RECRUITED (E.G. STREET/TELEPHONE ETC): _______________________________

DAY, DATE AND TIME OF GROUP/DEPTH: ______________________________________


Please PRINT CLEARLY this information onto your contact sheets and send the top copy
to your Regional Manager with your pay claim.

I declare that I have carried out the interview in full, face to face with the person
named above and/or according to your instructions, the interviewer's manual and the
MRS Code of Conduct.

Signed: ______________________________________ Date: _____________________

Interviewer’s name (please print name in full): _________________________________

SHOWCARD A - job no

• Publicity/advertising agencies

• Creative and design agencies/consultancies

• Direct marketing consultancies

• Media independents

• Outdoor specialists (i.e. poster advertising)

• Public relations

• Journalism (TV/press/radio)

• Marketing/market research

• Sales promotion agencies

• Corporate identity companies

• Financial services

• Banking

Appendix 7: Pre-task

Financial matters project pack

Name: _____________________________________________________ Age: __________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________________



Firstly thank you very much for agreeing to take part in this research project about money and
finance. In this research project we are really interested in finding out more about you, your
lifestyle and how money and finance fit into your life.

Before we meet you we would like you to spend some time answering a few questions each day for
three days. We will talk around these questions when we come to see you, so it is really important
that you spend a little bit of time each day completing the tasks.

Each day we would like you to spend a little time thinking about certain things and recording your
thoughts in this booklet. Please fill in your answers so we can discuss them with you when we come
to see you. Please be as honest as possible, and please feel free to write more than the space we
have allowed on extra paper if you have more to say. We are really interested in all of your
thoughts, so don’t hold back.

Don’t worry too much about how neat your writing is or your spelling; it isn’t a test of any kind.
There are only a few tasks each day so it shouldn’t take too long to complete.

As well as answering the questions in the booklet we would like you to collect any marketing
materials (advertising, direct mail, etc) relating to money or financial issues that you receive
between now and the interview. In addition to this, we would like to you to select two or three
items of marketing information that you think engages you and gives you information in a good

If you have any questions about what you have to do, please give me a call on 07880 483 048 and I
will be more than happy to help.

Many thanks,


Day one

• Please write a description of yourself. Think about what type of person you are, what things are
important to you and what things you do on a regular basis. If you have a picture of yourself you
could stick it in too.

• What are the three most important things in your life? And why?

• What makes you happy? And why?

• What makes you sad? And why?

• What makes you angry? And why?

• What are your biggest concerns at the moment? And why?

• Describe the role that money plays in your life.

• How much income do you have a week/month? Where from? Please include all sources.


• If anything, how much do you save a week/month? Why do you save?



• What are your fixed outgoings each week/month? How much is each?

Tomorrow before you fill out the questions, we would like you to think about who are the
biggest influencers in your life in terms of money. What role do different people/institutions
play? How you deal with money yourself? What you want from your future financially?

Day two:

• From whom or where would you say you have learned the most about money and financial
matters? What types of things have you learned? Please give examples of learning.

• What else influences you concerning money and financial matters? What information have they
given you? Again please include examples.

• If you needed advice about money or a financial matter, where would you look/who would you
talk to? Please list all the places/people you would go to, and why them?

• How would you describe your attitude to money? Please think about saving, spending, future
planning, etc.

• How would you describe your parents’ attitude towards money? How is your attitude
similar/different? Why? What else has influenced you to be different?

• Do you plan for your financial future? What/when are you planning for? How do you go about it?
If you don’t plan, why not?

• What are your hopes and fears about your financial future? How are you going to achieve your
ambitions? How are you going to avoid problems?

• What information will you need to help you do this? Where will you get it from?

Tomorrow we would like you to spend the day thinking about how your attitude to money has
changed over time; big purchases you have made or want to make; financial mistakes and
financial successes you have made; and the financial information you currently receive.

Day three

• Can you think about how your attitude to money has changed over time? List below key
points/times in your life when your attitude changed, what the change was and what it made
you do.

• Do you think your attitude will change in the future? What key things may change your attitude
and why?

• If you were to make a big purchase (e.g. car, kitchen, etc), what information would you need to
make the right financial decision? Where would you find this information? If you have made a
purchase, please describe the process.

• If you were to choose a credit card (or recently have), how would/did you go about making the

• How would you describe your attitude towards debt?

• What would you say is the biggest financial mistake you have made? What did you learn from
this? What extra information would have helped at the time? If you were to go through the same
process again what would you do differently?

• What would you say are your biggest financial achievements? What made them a success? What
information was important in this? Where did you get it from?

• What are the key pieces of advice you would offer to others regarding money or financial
matters? Why? Where did you get this information?


Thank you for your time in completing this questionnaire. We look forward to meeting with you soon
and discussing your answers with you.

Before we arrive please make sure you have also collected the financial marketing material and
other marketing stuff we have asked for.

Appendix 8: Respondent profiles

Student, 19, Manchester

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Psychology student, living with large • £3,000 in NatWest student current

working class family account

• Religious (Muslim) and family orientated • £40 in NatWest savings account

• Ambition to become a primary school • £3,000 in cash mini-ISA (parent arranged)

teacher • Tax problems
• Likes volunteering, mentoring and • New car purchase
works in a play scheme
• Getting financial help with studies
• Loves to spend time at home, reading,
• Student loan (maximum)
being with family and bettering self

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Highly conservative, yet highly naive • Does not understanding benefit of savings

• Very spending adverse, anti-labels, account

anti-fashion • Does not know how to move money

• However little to no understanding of around

financial world. All money in current • Car purchase made by mother and paid
account opened by parents for mainly by parents. She then pays

• Relies on mother or cousins for all instalments to them

financial information. Would imagine • University influenced decision to save,

going to ask bank manager if they could and the expense meant staying at home
not help • No understanding of tax system

• Aware of how to work the system for all

benefits and grants for students

Student, 19, South Kensington

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• In first year of Physics degree at • Income £5,000 a year, student loan and
Imperial College £200 per week from IT company

• Lives in university halls • In a week spends: rent £100, food £50,

• Company Director for an IT company alcohol/chocolate £30, “spoil myself”

with friends from home. Spends a great £30, health and beauty £10, travel £10

deal of spare time on this, in both • Student account with NatWest with large
London and Devon overdraft, and NatWest Mastercard

• Very ambitious • Has recently opened an Alliance &

• Rest of time spent doing normal student Leicester Direct ISA. Interested in getting

things – going out, working, shopping an index-linked tracker

and watching TV

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Describes himself accurately as a • Overspent massively in first term.

spender, but in control and not getting Learned from his mistakes and more
into further debt e.g. knows how much careful now
in his head he can spend a month • Recently looked in to getting a loan for
• Comes from comfortable background. the business, via word of mouth and
More like father who is a spender, e.g. Internet
coming home from work with new car • School gave a talk about budgeting at
• Very savvy about money, mostly due to university but he ignored it
the IT business • Currently looking into getting an index-
linked tracker

Student, 18, East Ham

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives at home with mother and sister, • Allowance of around £40 per week from
parents divorced mother

• Finishing A-levels and planning for • Occasional random handouts from father
university • Saved money from part-time work
• From a working class background but • Money left from birthdays
has done well at school
• Around £600 in a current account
• Views education as being the best way
to better himself

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Single-parent family • No real idea about how to budget for

• Aware of the value of money and how university

much things cost • Knows cost of rent but doesn’t know how

• Mother has always been on a tight much it costs to live

budget and has passed on a sensible • Has looked around online and had
attitude struggled to find advice

• Already starting to plan how he will

afford university

Student, 22, Fulham

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Student of Audio Technology and Music • Income (monthly) £500-600 parents, work
Industry Studies at Kingston University £300-400

• Lives with boyfriend (also student) in • Parents lent money for tuition fees by
Fulham taking out their own loan

• Works part time at an architect’s doing • Rent and car biggest expenses. After bills
general office admin has £400 left over for social costs and

• Worked for two years before deciding to credit cards

go to university • Has Egg and Capital One credit cards

• Has Barclays non-student account

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Describes herself as quite sensible • Has learnt how credit cards work through

• Conservative and cautious, bit of a trial and error. Would have liked to have

worrier (e.g. looking into pensions and known to start with

worrying about it as surprised at how • Attitude changes came when first moved
much she will need to live comfortably) out of home and became a student, as

• Parents are a great influence. They had had to cut back

debt when younger and warned her of it • Uses the Internet for pretty much
everything e.g. looking up latest 0% deals
out of interest

Student, 18, Surrey

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Living in family home in Surbiton • Earns £56 per week from job, plus

• Just about to take A-levels, planning to occasional money from christmas and

go to Liverpool University in September birthdays and for doing chores for elderly
• Part-time job in local Superdrug “to
have money for the weekend” • All money stored in draw in bedroom (as
spent within a week or two)
• Spends a lot of time with friends, very
interested in fashion (clothes, hair, • Spends on socialising, hair (£100 every six

make up), and downloading music weeks!) and clothes. Currently saving for
summer holiday spending money

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Currently anti-debt, but realises will • Thinking seriously about funding study at
need loan/credit card when goes to university, expecting to work a lot during
university (sister currently studying and summer and get part time job at
has run up huge debts) university

• Sensible with money, lives within • Not really looked into loans/credit cards
current means and saves for larger yet, although had some talks at school
items • Would like info on budgeting when living
• Influenced by mother (parents divorced) away from home, so doesn’t make sister’s
and older sister mistakes

Student, 20, Haydock

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives with his mother and father in • Full student loan £3,000 a year
Haydock • Part-time earnings of £60-90 per week
• A full time student at Liverpool • Only outgoings are £30 per month for a
University mobile and £20 per month for a gym
• Has a part-time job near home to help • Parents funding all living costs
fund his social life
• Spends student loan on holidays - £500
• Lives in a close family with close friends plus £1,000 spending money for Magaluf in
• Loves socialising with friends a few summer
nights a week, supporting St. Helens
rugby team and going to the gym

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Spends whatever money he has but no • Lack of knowledge about student loans –
more assumption of no interest: “free money”

• In reality he had sensible approach – • Despite potential for future conservatism,

debt adverse, knows he’ll need to save currently living hedonistically due to age
in the long term and priorities

• Current priorities on having a good time • Friends in similar situation share advice
outweigh concerns for the future, • Financing university by living at home
though his parents have told him to with parental support (even gets
think forwards travel/lunch money)
• Parents, family and friends all advise • No trust at all in financial companies –
him family and friends only

Mobile phone manager, 24, Manchester

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives with girlfriend and friend in a two- • £16,000 student loans (full and
bedroom flat in Hulme emergency)

• Reluctantly working as a manager for T- • £3,100 credit card debt

Mobile at Manchester Airport • £1,500 debt to parents and £700 to
• Frustrated creative. Film and girlfriend
photography the desired career but a • £1,600 overdraft on student account
hobby for now
• 3 or 4 other bank accounts with no money
• Still clutching onto student lifestyle of
• Just bought £3,000 computer on
squat parties, gigs and protests
girlfriend’s credit card with intention of
• Eco/humanitarian protests social scene balance transferring onto his own

• Dealing with Experian due to loan refusals

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Hedonist, although on the point of • Lack of realisation of debt until loan

change due to realisation since rejections (and student loan interest)
university that he might be in trouble • Not realising had credit rating and
• Believes will be able to sort out in later tracking
life, once he has got into film/ • Belief that all is okay even when
photography struggling
• Rebellion against rich parent • Lack of remorse. Believes he would do the
background and capitalist society as a same again
• Lack of desire to engage especially as a
• Still talks to parents about finance and student
they have helped him out when he
• Ways to get money beyond loans e.g.
balance transfer from girlfriend

Nursery worker, 20, South East London

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives in a church commission flat in • Income is £1,150 per month net

Walworth with her mother, father, two • Spends mostly at beginning of month on
brothers and a sister shopping, sunbeds, fake tans, nails etc
• Nursery assistant and after-school-club • Halifax current account (opened because
helper wanted “extra” but unimpressed)
• Likes shopping, watching TV, beauty, • Abbey savings account for holidays
going out with friends, modifying
• Main outgoings - £340 loan, £300 savings
clothes and photography
for holidays, £100 housekeeping

• Keeps a monthly record in her diary of

what she’ll have left after outgoings

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Spender who went off the rails • Took out a loan to pay for cosmetic
financially in the past, still spends quite dentistry (without telling anyone). Instead
a lot but is trying to be more careful she used it for shopping and is now paying
(especially as paying back loan) the price

• Mother is main influence. She was a • Knew absolutely nothing about loans.
spender until her father started giving Didn’t realise that early repayment and
her an allowance instead lump sum charges would apply

• Boyfriend, father, brothers and sister • Gives her debit card to her mum at the
are careful and savers end of the month when money is tight.

• Hedonist Has a pension but knows nothing about it

and did not open it herself

Waitress, 22, Sutton

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives in a new house with mother and • Has monthly income £600 plus £400 tips
stepfather • Spends most on clothes (£200-300 per
• Waitress in a nightclub three nights a month), going out (£80 a time), mobile
week phone (£80) and gym membership (£60)

• Also does occasional modelling work • Has Barclays current account, Halifax

• Has a great deal of spare time, spent savings account and Nationwide high-

with boyfriend, in gym, sleeping and interest savings account

doing a lot of shopping

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Spender and saver. Spends a lot on • Relies on her mother for everything. She
shopping but likes sense of money searched for and chose the best savings
growing in savings account account and Lara just signed up for it. She

• Is a sensible spender. Spends a lot but couldn’t understand the information on

it’s within her means. Dislikes debt her own – “mum explains better”

• Mother is main influence and source of • Prefers to speak to someone face to face

information for everything if needs something explaining

• Parents have always saved • Only uses branch. Would not know how to
manage a product with no relation to

Travel agent and groundsman, 23 and 24, Surrey

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Gemma has a degree in travel and • Monthly income: Gemma £1,200 and Will
tourism, now working in local travel £1,600. Goes into separate bank accounts
agent • Outgoings are mortgage (£500 each), car,
• Will left school at 16 and works as a bills, loan payments, food and socialising
groundsman for Premiership football • Gemma has a loan and a student loan
clubs (paying both back), and credit cards,
• Just bought two-bedroom flat together which she has balance transferred
in Wallington • Financed flat deposit from Will’s
• Enjoy sport, going out, shopping, inheritance money and received a lot of
watching TV furniture from family

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Gemma is a spender, expects to be • Deliberately chose flat/mortgage that

earning a much better salary in future would enable them to maintain their
and be able to clear debts then lifestyle

• Will is a saver, very careful, anti-debt • Chose mortgage by speaking to family

• Go to Will’s parents for money advice friend

(Gemma doesn’t want her parents to • Didn’t do information search/research

know her level of debt) themselves

• Both sets of parents have strong saving • Decision made by IFA

mentality • Learning how to run a home as they go

Admin assistant and youth worker, 22, Putney

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Renting mother’s house • Jemma’s wages (£1,200 per month),

• Admin assistant and student/youth Dan’s student loan, plus £64,000 from

worker pyramid schemes

• A pretty “settled” and sensible couple • All kept in current account but exploring
• Main passion is travelling and working
abroad • Save a varying amount each month

• Live quite a middle-aged lifestyle • Spend on rent, bills, car and holidays. Not
much on socialising

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Money is “not having to worry” • Extreme conservatives but have their

• Jemma is an extreme saver. Checks her weak spot - travel

balance every day and has different jars • Acquiring/saving/playing with money is a
for loose change hobby

• Rubbed off on Dan. He used to be more • House buying not necessarily seen as best
hedonistic, now much more sensible thing to do

• But questioning why they should go

down the buying property route

Barman, 19, Sidcup

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Just returned from a year travelling • Works as a barman in local pub

• Recently left family home to move in • Paid about £200 per week, more with tips
with his boyfriend • Contributes sporadically to bills, council
• Boyfriend owns their house tax, food

• Vague plans to study at some point but • Rest of money spent on socialising
not really sure what he wants to do • No plans to save other than small amount
for next year’s holiday

• Wants to get a car

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• No real responsibility • No real engagement with money and

• His boyfriend has replaced his parents finance beyond what he spends on

as being the person who takes care of socialising

“that stuff” • Some interest in saving

• Typical middle class, money never been • No idea what is the best way to finance
an issue so assumes it never will be his car

• Imagines that he will need to earn

£30,000 to have a “nice life”

Unemployed, 19, West Kensington

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Lives at home with mother and sister • Jobseekers’ allowance (£80 per fortnight)

• No contact with father • Paid into current account which also

• Was excluded from school at 15 includes leftover birthday money

• Has never worked legally • Also alluded to getting cash from illegal
• Still seems to have plenty of disposable
cash • Occasional handouts from mother

• Vague plan to study or get a retail job • No interest in saving

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Even though he has never worked does • No real engagement with money and
not see money as an “issue” finance beyond the cash in his hand

• Very savvy about his rights • Feels he has a good knowledge about how

• Has name down for his own flat to play the system, learned from mother

• Has worked out it is cheaper for him • Mistrust in traditional financial

potentially not to work institutions

• Wants to always keep his money close to


Unemployed, 21, North London

Home and lifestyle Financial situation

• Living in family home in Mill Hill • Given £50 per week by parents. No other

• Unemployed since left “boring” job at income or savings

Marks & Spencer in January • Abbey bank account (17p). Currently

• Thinking about going back to college in stores all money in bedroom

September and doing “something to do • No financial commitments. All money

with travel and tourism” spent on clothes and socialising (parents

• Spends time sleeping, window shopping, pay gym membership and mobile

going to gym and seeing friends contract)

• Wants to learn to drive and get a car

Attitudes towards money Key insights

• Very against debt, but has always spent • Never thinks about money beyond having
everything she earned enough for the next weekend

• Finding it hard to budget within £50 • No idea how to find out about funding
limit. Knows should get a job, but not further study, likely costs, or how to buy
sure what to do. Wants something with a car
more prospects. Assuming it will all • Will probably ask parents, and if they
work itself out can’t help, then go to local Abbey branch
• Turns to parents for all financially
related questions and support

Appendix 9: Project edge

Project Edge is a syndicated report published quarterly by Vegas, the youth specialist research
division of Synovate. Project Edge has been running for five years and is now available for the UK,
USA and Canada.

Each report focuses on a different aspect of youth culture, from “Shifting Sands: The Impact of
9/11” to “The Health Report”. Alongside the quarterly reports, monthly articles are published by
leading experts in youth marketing, and a bank of leading edge trends is maintained.

The quarterly reports are the result of formal research. Each report follows its own methodology
devised to best suit the study at hand. All reports are, however, based on desk research, expert
interviews with academics/professionals in relevant fields and qualitative research with young
people (some reports contain quantitative data where applicable).

For the purposes of this report we reviewed the following Project Edge reports.

Stay At Home Generation: November 2004 (Exploring the trend for living at home longer)


• Twenty in-depth immersions with parents who had children aged 18-30 living at home

• Locations:

− Glasgow

− London (centre and suburbs)

− Bristol

− Nottingham

• Expert interviews:

− Frank Furedi - Professor of Sociology, University of Kent in Canterbury

− Dr Helen Barrett - Senior Research Fellow, National Family and Parenting Institute

Geezerland: September 2003 (Exploring the new working class ideal)


• Six x two-hour paired depth interviews (18-24 male/female respondents)

• Four creative immersion sessions in Leeds, Watford, Croydon and Plymouth

• Internet chat room discussions

Black Britain: March 2004 (Exploring the black youth market and its impact on the mainstream)


• Group discussions:

− Six x African mixed 18–22 year olds

− Six x Afro–Caribbean males 18–22 year olds

− Six x Afro-Caribbean females 18-22 year olds

− Six x urban white mixed 17–22 year olds

• Expert interviews:

− Shurwin Beckford – Channel Manager, MTV Base

− Amina Taylor – Editor, Pride Magazine

− Jane Webber – Designer, Nine Magazine

− Professor Tim Connell – Director, Language Studies at City University, London

− Nikki Miller – Diageo, Guinness Foreign Extra Stout

− Terna Heuston Jibo – Freelance black-youth specialist

Studentlife: June 2004


• Five extended student immersion sessions:

− Two mini groups for initial discussion followed by ethnographic immersion for a

• Locations:

− Leeds University

− Liverpool University

− Sussex University

− Carshalton FE College, Surrey

− Edge Hill HE College, Ormskirk

• Expert interviews:

− Penny Hollings – National Secretary, NUS

− Dr John Fry – Head of Physics, Liverpool University

− Hannah Charnock – President, NUS, Liverpool University

− Andy Medhurst – Dean of Cultural Studies, Sussex University

− Jenny Barrett – Tutor, Film Studies, Edge Hill HE College, Ormskirk

− Anna Fazackerly – Journalist, Times Higher

− Sarah Knapton – Virginstudent.com

− Trevor Bottomley - Personal Advisor, Connexions

− Hannah Quinn - Student Welfare Officer, Swansea

− Assorted bar managers

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