Financial services providers should design and offer more products to people on lower incomes to encourage saving and build financial resilience among this underserved group, Beyond Age and Income, Encouraging Saving Behaviours finds.
The myth that people on lower incomes are not active savers is conclusively disproved by a new report from Toynbee Hall, the lead partner of Debt Free London, supported by the Building Societies Association today.
Beyond Age and Income: Encouraging saving behaviours, written by Toynbee Hall with support from The Building Societies Association, explores people’s actual savings patterns and considers how to help more people save. It finds that it is not our income or our age which predicts how much we save, but instead our attitude to saving which is key. The research also shows that people on low incomes are just as likely to have positive attitudes to saving as those on higher incomes.
The Report used consumer surveys and interviews, as well as input from financial institutions, to co-produce a set of recommendations for financial service providers aimed at supporting more people start saving.
The findings challenge the common assumption that people naturally save proportionally more as they get older and earn more. In fact, the research finds that an individual’s attitudes and behaviours are the most important factors in predicting how much of their income they save, not their actual income or age.
While people on higher incomes who save do indeed tend to have higher absolute sums in savings, once adjusted for income, there is no clear pattern that people with higher incomes are saving a higher percentage of their earnings. These findings suggests that people with lower incomes can be equally active in saving, once their essential needs have been met.
The report shows that people often have multiple motivations to save at any one time. They might be simultaneously saving for two competing goals, such as an unspecified rainy day and to pay for a specific items, such as a car or a holiday. So savings product design should also factor in that individuals often have multiple motivations to save. Importantly, the most common motivator – saving for unexpected emergencies or life events – could provide the path of least resistance to encourage non-savers to begin saving, since the majority of people are likely to identify with this universal need.
Report: Beyond Age and Income - Encouraging saving behaviours