Talking about money? It’s a generational thing

Would you happily chat to your colleagues – or your boss – about money? For many of us, the “m” word’s a taboo subject.

To make the best decisions about our future it’s crucial we’re able to talk about finances and understand the options. I’m therefore pleased to see that employers are starting to view financial wellbeing and retirement planning as part of their responsibility towards staff. It’s great news for creating a more open culture. But it seems there are some big differences between the generations when it comes to discussing money.

Employers step up to the plate

In my work for The People’s Pension, I speak to employers up and down the country. I’m seeing something of a groundswell of companies understanding the importance of financial education. Many are keen to go beyond simply enrolling their staff into pensions and making sure they’re aware of their pension (although that’s a great start of course). They’re encouraging their staff to actively engage with their retirement planning and think about the bigger financial picture.

How they do this varies, with employers taking a whole range of different approaches to turn the tables on apathy. Some are investing in late-life planning and communication programmes at various stages, providing life skills as well as paying salaries. Others don’t do much for people earlier on in their careers.

Preparing for retirement is seen not just as an issue for individuals but also for the wider business and jobs market. Some affluent older employees may be “rich” thanks to defined benefit pension schemes but this picture’s likely to change for future generations. Some workers face more challenging circumstances and end up in a position where they can’t afford to retire. If older employees stay forever and a day because they have no other choice, it can cause problems for businesses if it limits new talent coming through or leads to health issues.

Older but not wiser?

During a recent enlightening discussion with employers, they talked about the polarised attitudes of older and younger generations. Millennials are apparently happier to air their “dirty laundry” and have a different, more open attitude towards money than many of their older colleagues. I was pleasantly surprised to hear how younger staff at one company had loved financial awareness training and debt consolidation courses!

Millennials are also more interested in where their money is invested – something we should be mindful of as an industry when we consider things like Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. For the majority of people thinking about their pensions, return on investment remains king but perhaps this perspective will evolve with future generations.

Stopping taboo by simply talking  

The importance of planning for a comfortable retirement is firmly entrenched in my mind. As an organisation, The People’s Pension is dedicated to creating simplicity for our customers and making sure both employers and employees understand how their pensions work and what all the sometimes scary jargon around financial products means for them. We want our customers to be as actively engaged with their pensions and retirement savings as possible. It’s great to see that many employers want the same for their staff.

I’ll do all I can to support this movement so more of us think about the future and are able to afford to retire or reduce our workloads when we choose to. Talking about money is a good place to start.