No money talk please - we're British

Article date: 25 November 2002

Older parents and children unwilling to discuss finance andgrowing old

Parents and children are shying away from the taboos of money,getting old and death - despite the growing need for families totalk about financial planning for the future, according to newresearch.

Tricky issues such as how parents will manage financially asthey get older, where they will live, who will look after them andwho will inherit their money can have a major affect on the entirefamily.

Yet a study by the leading equity release provider, NorwichUnion shows that UK families have a problem talking about finance:as few as 14 per cent of older parents have discussed financialconcerns with their grown-up children - and while nearly 90 percent of older parents felt it was their responsibility to raise thetopic, just under half of grown-up children agreed.

Leading psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, who has teamed up withNorwich Union’s equity release division to offer advice onbroaching the subject, says: “Sex has in many ways beensurpassed by money as THE difficult, or taboo, subject todiscuss.”

The Norwich Union research, carried out nationwide among olderparents aged 55-70, and their children in the 30-45 age group, alsoreveals:

  • The biggest worry among 55-70 year olds is losing theirpartner, with nearly a third naming ‘ill health’, and18 per cent ‘financing their retirement’, as theirchief concern
  • Four out of five are planning to use their pension to fund oldage, while nearly half will use their savings. One in 10 islooking upon Equity Release - unlocking cash from the home - as away to fund old age
  • Women find it easier than men to talk to their children aboutfinancial matters connected to getting older
  • The Granny Flat is likely to be left behind in the 21stCentury, as fewer and fewer people are keen to have their olderparents living with them

Dr Sigman added: “Money still retains a secretive qualitybecause it represents fundamental issues such as security, freedomand status - so a discussion about money isn't just about poundsand pence, it really opens up a whole range of importantissues.

“Families don't just have emotional histories and dynamics- they also have emotional attitudes to money, especially in theway it affects them. We tend to deal with financial issues more orless secretively, with different family members playing differentroles.

“The problem is that although families need to talk aboutthese new retirement years more than ever, a new embarrassment hasset in - a case of ‘No money talk please… we'reBritish’."

The survey also reveals that while seven out of 10 older parentsare ‘holding back’ to provide an inheritance, 87 percent of grown-up children would rather their parents enjoyed theirmoney and had a comfortable retirement. And yet although childrenare not expecting an inheritance from their parents, they are stillplanning on leaving one for their own children.

Buying any retirement product, such as Equity Release, is amajor financial decision and Norwich Union recommends that olderpeople first discuss it with their family and financial advisor,whether it’s an IFA or solicitor.

Paul Stokes, of Norwich Union, said: “No-one likes toacknowledge that they’re getting old - but change can besudden, and it’s important to embrace the subject,particularly as talking about these things helps you to prepare forthe future.

“And while some may feel perfectly well-equipped to broachpotentially sensitive discussions with loved ones, our survey alsofound that over one in three adults wish there was more informationavailable to help families have difficult conversations.”

For more information see attached tip sheet at the end of therelease.

Press contact:
Jo Misson, Howard Bowden or Matthew Buchanan at QBO on 020 73790304.

Notes to editors

  • More information is available
  • Norwich Union commissioned independent nationwide marketresearch amongst 254 adults aged 55-70 years old and 249 adultsaged 30 to 45 years old in October 2002.
  • The plans provide a lifetime loan secured on property. Fullwritten terms and conditions are available on request.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is theUK’s largest provider of life, pensions and investmentproducts and one of the leading IFA providers. IFAs provide around75% of the company’s long-term savings business.
  • Norwich Union has strategic alliances with over 20 buildingsocieties and other leading UK brand names including TescoPersonal Finance and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on theinternet at
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio-quality interviews.Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68.

For all life and pensions media enquiries, call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

Members of the General Insurance Standards Council
Members of the Aviva group

Talking money tip sheet

Norwich Union has teamed up with leading psychologist andbroadcaster Dr Aric Sigman to offer the following helpful advice onhow to discuss tricky issues with your family:

  • Don’t be an ostrich and put your head in the sand.Decide that you need to talk about financial arrangements afterretirement and make a firm commitment to put the topic on theagenda
  • Remember you’re all grown-ups. It’s understandablethat parents seek to protect their children and hence want toavoid ‘burdening’ them by involving them in grown-updiscussions about money, health and future vulnerability. Butchildren want to be involved and are affected by the well- beingof their parents.
  • Setting the agenda. Talking about an important family issueoften involves a mix of persuading, discussing, telling, enquiringand reassuring. Ultimately parents will have to ask themselvesdifficult questions and need the help of their children to answer:
    • What are our needs going to be?
    • What do we want?
    • What do we have?
    • What do we need?
    • What solutions are available to us?
    • Enlist the help of your grown-up children to answer keyquestions regarding your future.
  • Choose your moment. It may be a casual chat over dinner, aweekend family get-together or a more formal meeting.
  • Don’t treat the conversation as a grim and deadlyserious business. This can make things worse, so treat the subjectwith a lightness of touch.
  • It’s important for older parents not to feel patronisedby their children. Parents never loose the feeling ofresponsibility for their children and the nature of your chatshould always assume it’s the parents who are ultimately incharge of the situation. When it comes to touchy subjects,‘asking’ and ‘suggesting’ are better than‘telling’.
  • Discussing technical arrangements for a will can be a good wayto ease into the subject of inheritance. It’s relativelysimple to cover off arrangements made with your solicitor about awill – and it can help raise the more emotional topic ofinheritance. You should also pass on full details about yoursolicitor, IFA or accountant, as well as details on otherinvestments… and where all your paperwork is stored.
  • Women tend to confront the issue while men may hide from it.You might find it’s easier for mothers and daughters tobroach the topic first - and then include the rest of the familyin the debate.
  • Consider using an independent financial or other advisor tohelp you have the conversation. Your IFA is ideally placed to helpfacilitate a more formal meeting, and it might be an ideal way tointroduce other members of your family who might need somedirection in their financial affairs.

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