Add to filing cabinet

Financial Wellbeing – Taking a Closer Look at Behaviours and Attitudes

Posted on 19th Sep 2017
Financial Wellbeing – Taking a Closer Look at Behaviours and Attitudes

Bristol University’s Elaine Kempson explains how new research into financial wellbeing could inform future education and advice.

The debt advice sector is always looking for new and better ways to help people out of financial instability. And while for a long time agencies have used income and expenditure models and focused on budgeting as the main way of supporting clients, some experts are asking, ‘is it time for a more behaviour-based approach?’

Professor Elaine Kempson, Director of the Personal Finance Research Centre at Bristol University, co-authored a report in July, ‘Financial Well-Being A Conceptual Model and Preliminary Analysis’. It takes a closer look at the behaviours behind financial well-being.

Here, Professor Kemspon talks about its implications for those delivering and receiving debt advice. She says:

“We were looking at financial well-being in detail and found three measures of current and future financial well-being, all of which shared three key behaviours as their main drivers: ‘active saving’, exerting ‘spending restraint’ and ‘not borrowing for daily expenses’.

The three key drivers of these behaviours are attitudes to spending, saving and borrowing and personality traits, such as time orientation and impulsivity control. But setting this in context, income and income instability are both very important.

Interestingly, researchers in America, working completely independently to us, have drawn similar conclusions so these findings could well be universal. It’s important to know ‘what drives financial well-being?’ so we can help people find new ways to achieve that – and build these findings into financial education, debt prevention and debt advice.

In summary, financial education needs to focus on these core behaviours and attitudes towards money, ahead of knowledge and skills.  Consequently it  needs to look at new formats such as social marketing edutainment, apps and computer games and move away from a focus on workshops.

People who are receiving debt advice will frequently draw low scores on all three key behaviours. In extreme cases this will call for one-to-one interventions, which could use a self-assessment tool derived from the survey, to help people to identify where they have been going wrong.”

Find out more and read the full report here:


Please note UKAR does not directly endorse the contributors.  The views expressed in this article are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of UKAR.