15 million Britons wish they had received financial education

• Over 15 million Britons say they never received any formal financial education but wished they had.
• Over 4 million Britons feel out of their depth when it comes to managing money on a day-to-day basis and for the future
• Just over a third of the British public turn to family for their financial advice; just under a quarter would seek help from a professional financial adviser.

New research from NS&I reveals that over 15 million Britons were never formally taught about managing their money but wished they had been.

The study into Britain’s financial education and capability shows that over half (52%) of those who feel out of their depth when it comes to managing money on a day-to-day basis, and for the future, have never received formal financial education of any kind but would like to have done – this equates to over 2 million Britons.

Around a third (36%) of those who feel confident managing their money day-to-day but not for the long term also never received financial education of any kind but wished they had.

Over 7 million Britons confessed to not having any savings at all and 52% of these say they never received any formal financial education, as well as 58% of those who do not save any money month on month.

Of those who have received formal financial education only just over a third (36%) say they got advice about the importance of saving money.

Jill Waters, NS&I Retail Director said;

“Our research illustrates millions of us may be struggling without a basic knowledge of money, savings and how to plan for different life stages. Getting a good understanding of personal finance will help people make more informed decisions.”

“We’d always suggest to people to do their research when it comes to making a financial decision, speak to a trusted adviser if appropriate and choose a product that best suits your needs. Having a savings pot easily accessible is a good way to cope financially should an emergency occur.”

What we need to learn

Encouragingly, it’s budgeting, saving, and planning for retirement that the public believe are the most important aspects of financial management. At the other end of the scale, however, it appears that most Britons think that handling redundancy, understanding benefits entitlements and making a will are the least important aspects of financial education.

Top three financial topics Britons think are the most important to learn Bottom three financial topics Britons think are the least important to learn
1 Making a budget (55%) Making a will (13%)
2 The importance of saving (33%) Understanding the benefits you might be entitled to (9%)
3 How to plan or save for retirement (31%) Handling redundancy (4%)


Regardless of any financial education received or not, over a quarter (27%) of Britons identify investing in stocks and shares as the most complex aspect of personal finance, while one in ten (11%) said they struggled to get their heads around planning and saving for retirement. It’s not all bad news; just over a third of Britons (34%) said that they didn’t find any financial matter too difficult to understand.

A quarter of Britons (25%) think that if they had received any, formal financial education would have helped them save, while just over one in ten (12%) believe that the formal financial education they received has helped them on their way to becoming smart savers.

Financial education: At home, in the classroom or at all?

While only 15% received financial education for the first time at secondary school, the overwhelming majority (43 million, 87%) support the principle that children of school age should receive some form of financial education during their formative years,

Over 40% of people believe it should be down to school teachers to provide children with a sound financial springboard for their future lives while just under a quarter (24%) think it should be something instilled in the young by parents or other family members.

Just over a fifth (21%) believes that advice should be given from an expert in the industry and think children would gain more from learning about financial matters that will affect them from professionals.

Just under half of Britons (45%) revealed that they have never received formal financial education at any point in their lives, nearly a third (31%) suggesting they would have liked to have done and 14% stating they would have been uninterested.

Family fortunes

When Britons are confronted with a financial issue they don’t understand the survey showed that over a third (36%) – or around 18 million people – would speak to a member of their family for advice. And fitting with the stereotype of men not liking to ask for directions, it’s women (40%) who are more likely to ask for assistance from a member of the family compared to men (33%).

Some are willing to take their financial issues beyond their family, with just under a quarter of people (24%) seeking professional advice.

Notes to Editors

The Financial Education section of the NS&I Savings Survey was conducted by TNS among 2,473 British adults aged 16+ between 30 July and 3 August 2015. The sample has been weighted to represent the adult population of Britain.

About NS&I

NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments products. All products offer 100% security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.