Two minutes with…. Sophie Robson, MRM
Following the launch of MRM’s new report “Generation Austerity: Brexit and beyond”, we put MRM Consultant and author of the report, Sophie Robson, under the spotlight.
MRM has just released its fourth Young Money report, “Generation Austerity: Brexit and Beyond”. What is the report about and what is it about this particular demographic that fascinates you so much?
MRM’s fourth annual Young Money Report, “Generation Austerity: Brexit and Beyond” looks at the attitudes to finance of 1,000 18-25 year olds. The study considers the views of young people on a range of topics including pensions and benefits, advice and access, saving and spending and investing and the economy, as well as featuring contributions from key industry experts across the financial services industry.
This is a really interesting demographic: most have spent the majority of their working lives and education in the shadow of austerity, and this has inevitably coloured their outlook. As a result, many in this age group are very conservative when it comes to finance, to the point of being risk averse. However, they face a number of challenges that their parents didn’t – stretched wages, high house prices and historically low interest rates mean many are struggling to gain any meaningful assets which would go a long way to achieving financial independence in their later years. But they are also a switched-on, digitally savvy and engaged age group and many in the industry are starting to recognise the need to engage with Generation A and understand their needs as they begin their working lives to avoid losing them altogether.
What struck you most about the findings in the report?
Most of the research and writing took place in or around the aftermath of Brexit and as a result, much focus centred on the UK’s vote to leave the EU. It was clear the result had had a direct impact on Generation A: nearly 48% expected to be left financially worse off by the result, while 13% said they were putting off saving altogether. Despite the fact that in practice little has really changed since the vote, it shows how much the media can influence opinions, particularly of young people.
Advice and access also unveiled some worrying results. Generation A was prepared to pay just £28.50 per hour for financial advice (compared with the industry average of around £150), with 51% not prepared to pay anything at all for advice. The advice industry clearly has work to do to demonstrate the value of its services to this age group – or there is a real risk that they could lose out to cheaper, automated services such as robo-advice.
How have you been promoting the report?
We’ve been promoting it heavily through our social media channels, including Twitter and LinkedIn and we’ve had some great engagement from both those in our community and those who contributed to the report. Alongside this, we’ve been posting vox pops, featuring some of our contributors. We’ve also generated some great media coverage so far, including Professional Adviser, International Adviser, Money Observer and Financial Planning Today.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
Twitter is fast becoming my go-to site – apart from the real-time news updates it gives you, there are very few other sites where you can get access to such a diverse range of opinions and curated articles. Saying that though, I do find myself following some fairly random accounts, just to avoid seeing the same points of view over and over again. Apart from that, I start my mornings reading the daily bulletin emails from The Telegraph and The Atlantic – the latter is particularly interesting at the moment as the US looks to digest the implications of Trump’s election victory.
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
Trains would have to be up there. I commute daily from Reading, and for the amount of money I pay, the almost daily delays and constant overcrowding represent extremely poor value for money.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
The correct answer here would be to put it towards a deposit for a house: while it wouldn’t be enough to get me on the ladder, it would be a good starting point and would certainly give me the boost I needed to begin a regular savings regime.