FCA reveals the financial experiences of people in the UK: Northern Irish attitudes towards finance are more downbeat than rest of UK

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today published the latest analysis of its Financial Lives survey. Today’s report puts the spotlight on the financial situation of people across the UK and highlights where in the UK people may be more vulnerable.

Today’s report finds that attitudes towards finance in Northern Ireland are somewhat more downbeat than the rest of the UK. A higher proportion of people in Northern Ireland feel they have low financial capability (24% vs. the UK average of 17%). Lower proportions view themselves as a confident and savvy consumer (43% vs. the UK average of 52%), as highly confident managing their money (26% vs. the UK average of 37%) or as highly knowledgeable in financial matters (10% vs. the UK average of 16%).

Financial Lives is the FCA’s survey of nearly 13,000 adults and is the largest tracking survey in the UK specifically looking at consumers and their use of financial services.

The report shows a number of differences in how people in different areas of the UK, including Northern Ireland, experience financial services, such as:

  • Average mortgage debts for those people with a mortgage are lower in Northern Ireland than the UK overall (£117,000 vs. the UK average of £126,000).
  • A lower proportion of people in Northern Ireland are renting the property they current live in compared to the UK average (23% vs. the UK average of 29%).
  • 56% of adults in Northern Ireland show characteristics of potential vulnerability. This compares to the UK average of 50%.
  • 10% of adults in Northern Ireland are ‘in difficulty.’ This is similar to the UK average.
  • Two thirds of adults in Northern Ireland (67%) have no cash savings or savings of less than £5,000. This compares to 57% of adults across the UK.
  • People in Northern Ireland have the highest levels of over-indebtedness across the UK (20% vs. UK average of 15%). On average, adults in Northern Ireland owe £3,990 in unsecured debt which is the highest owed by adults in any part of the UK.

Andrew Bailey, FCA Chief Executive, said: 'This survey shows just how different the experience of financial services is for consumers across the country. That’s important for us, as we shape financial services policy. But it is also important for firms, as they decide how best to serve their customers.'

The FCA has released weighted data tables which provide details of the survey findings so that local decision-makers and other organisations can use the information to consider what they can do to help support people who may be struggling financially. The FCA’s previous Financial Lives report told the financial story for six different age groups to show key themes at each life stage.

Notes to editors

  1. Read the FCA’s June 2018 report, The financial lives of consumers across the UK
  2. Read the Financial Lives 2017 report, Understanding the financial lives of UK adults
  3. Potential vulnerability refers to those adults who may suffer disproportionately if things go wrong because they have low financial resilience. It also covers those who may be less able to engage with their finances or with financial services. The reasons for this can vary from suffering a recent life event (such as redundancy, bereavement or divorce), low financial capability, or a health‑related problem that affects a person’s day‑to‑day activities a lot. Being defined as potentially vulnerable does not mean someone will necessarily suffer harm.
  4. ‘In difficulty’ refers to adults who are the least financially resilient, as they have already missed paying domestic bills or meeting credit commitments in at least three of the last six months.
  5. Over-indebtedness is defined as considering a heavy burden keeping up with domestic bills and credit commitments, or missing any credit commitments and/ or any domestic bills in any three or more of the last six months.
  6. On 1 April 2013, the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
  7. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  8. Find out more information about the FCA.