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Financial apathy costs Brits thousands each year

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

British consumers are missing out on thousands of pounds each year because of financial apathy, according to new research.

The study of 1,000 UK adults by peer to peer platform Crowdstacker found that 55 per cent of people have never changed utility provider, 40 per cent have never changed pension provider, and 21 per cent have never changed bank.

It also found that a third of investors who hold stocks and shares have never modified their portfolio in any way.

Even those who make adjustments miss out on opportunities to grow savings and maximise investments by only making changes an average of once every five years, the report said.

The costs of “financial apathy” could break down over a decade as follows:

  • £7,365 in pension losses

Official figures show the average UK pension fund fell by 0.1 per cent in value every year between 2001 and 2010, while the FTSE 100 index rose 13 per cent over the same period. A pension pot of £53,000 could have turned into £59,890 over this period simply by tracking the FTSE 100 index.

  • £2,500 in savings losses

Switching banks to take advantage of better interest rates could net consumers hundreds of extra pounds a year.  Cash ISAs ere the most popular form of savings and investment across all age groups surveyed by Crowdstacker, with 50 per cent of savers holding the product.  But 40 per cent of those savers said they monitor the performance of their savings less than once a year, while 34 per cent had never changed banks. The difference between the current best-buy cash ISA rate (1.51 per cent), and market low (0.1 per cent per cent currently offered by Santander), means the average UK household saving £16,400 could be earning £16.40 per year or £247.61 per year on the same savings. Over 10 years, the compound interest lost with the poorer product amounts to £2,500.

  • £3,299 by avoiding peer-to-peer lending

If the average British household put just 10 per cent of its savings pot, or £1,640, into a peer-to-peer lending product targeting a 5.5 per cent annual return, and kept the rest in a better performing cash ISA, it could make £3,299 in interest over 10 years, or an additional 32% extra.

  • £5,120 by sticking with expensive utilities

Government figures suggest people could save up to £512 a year by switching their gas and electricity provider.

  • Thousands of pounds in investment losses

Those who have invested in stocks and shares and then failed to monitor performance may have missed out the worst. For example, the top performing FTSE 100 stock between 2002 and 2012, African-focused gold mining and exploration company Randgold Resources, returned more than 2,000 per cent, while the worst-performer, Royal Bank of Scotland, lost 96 per cent of its value. Likewise, the best performing investment fund over the last ten years has returned more than 600 per cent, while the worst performers have lost money.

“British savers need to consider becoming more financially agile, or they could continue to miss out on thousands of pounds a year because they aren’t paying enough attention to their money,” said Crowdstacker CEO Karteek Patel.

“These numbers are a call to arms, particularly for a new generation looking for adequate income in their retirement.”