Family Financial Tree leaves families cold

Nia Williams

November 8, 2013

This is according to a new survey from Standard Life which shows that parents with children under five are much more likely to ask the family for money (79%) or for financial advice (75%).

The Family Financial Tree looks at the family money tree over four generations and identifies three distinct family types: the ‘talkers’, the ‘gifters’ and those that are least likely to benefit as a family, the ‘avoiders’.

Developed with personal finance expert Sarah Willingham, The Family Financial Tree reveals how families collectively manage and talk about personal finances. The findings, based on survey data of over 4,000 adults in Great Britain, draw compelling conclusions about what is effectively one of the last taboo subjects for families – the uncomfortable discussions around money, inheritance and retirement.

The research tracks how money can flow across four generations of a family and also establishes how this flow of cash is reliant on families having some tricky conversations.

The report finds that many of us remain typically British and private about our finances. While we might involve our spouse or partner in discussions and future planning, few people say they communicate freely with others in their family about their finances.

Despite sharing day to day and long term financial commitments with up to four generations in the family, many of us are unlikely to sit down and discuss important financial planning issues together. When conversations do take place, they focus more on immediate needs and less on planning for the future.

Commenting, Julie Hutchison, Standard Life family financial expert, said: “The Family Financial Tree has revealed the staggering amount of money that is shared within families every year.

“Grandparents and parents help younger generations with their financial needs and vice versa. But, despite so many people being on the family payroll, there often seems to be a barrier when it comes to having certain conversations about money. But if some of the trickier discussions do take place, around such things as inheritance or retirement, they can help to remove uncertainty and make it much easier for everyone in the family to plan ahead and make the most of their money.

“If you really feel you can’t have these tricky conversations with your family, then turning to a third party like a financial adviser could be the solution. That said, a financial adviser will still seek to understand some key things about your family, like future goals and future commitments. So certain conversations will always be important in a family.”

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