Personal finance, wealth and money seem to be some of the most difficult topics to talk about. Surveys across the pond found that 44% of Americans find conversations on personal finance the most challenging.1 Whilst in Britain, a nation famed for its prudishness, individuals are happier talking to a stranger about their sex life than their income.2
The money taboo started in Britain, it was terribly crude to talk about finances. Those with money did not need to talk about it as it was visible from the number of houses you owned, to the cars you drove. A lot of the taboo comes from the old class system where knowledge was power, if the lower classes knew the value of things there would be movement among the classes so you had to be careful of what you said.
The problem is if we do not talk about money how are we supposed to learn what to do with it? When you hit working age you need a plan and a budget that you stick to, if you do not talk about it how are you supposed to know what to do with it. It is all too easy for an individual to spend all of their earnings without saving a penny.
Money is held up as something that enables happiness and power, if money is short that individual could be deemed as doing something wrong, but when there is an abundance an individual could be badged as greedy. There does not seem to be a positive way of looking at wealth.
It does not help that scandals such as the panama papers and banker bonuses are so widely documented in the press; wealth suddenly becomes a dirty word. But wealth is not a dirty word, greed is, but wealth, when worked hard for, is something that should be taken care of and taking care of something often means talking about it.
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If you were to have a health issue you would not think twice of consulting a doctor or seeking advice from family and friends. But when it comes to money many doors are closed to us, social taboos make it difficult to get that advice from family and friends and if you want professional advice you have to pay for it.
We are facing a financial advice gap and a wealth appreciation gap. The state pension is decreasing, the defined benefit pension has all but disappeared, house prices have sky rocketed and rent is famously high. We all need to be saving but in order to save ‘enough’ for the lifestyle many expect saving will not cover it, that money needs to grow. We need to be investing.
Investing historically was the preserve of the wealthy but with the introduction of the digital wealth manager the last barrier has come down. A level of advice is available to anyone and an investment is available to everyone regardless of their wealth.
It is time to stop thinking of wealth as negative and to start thinking about the wealth you need to enable your livelihood and planning how to get there.
1 Wells Fargo, 2014
2 UCL, 2015