Universal worries: Finance edition

Anyone can find themselves affected by financial worries – for all manner of reasons. The best way to tackle this is to take advantage of the support available and open up about your concerns.


  • Financial worries can be caused by a wide range of situations and factors, not just income and debt.
  • Some of the biggest financial challenges we face occur just once or twice in a lifetime, meaning we don’t always have the skills or experience to navigate them solo.
  • Financial well-being support is widely available, including in the workplace. The sooner worries are expressed, the easier they can be dealt with.

More than money 

Financial stress doesn’t just happen for one reason, or to certain groups of people. Anyone can be affected for a number of reasons. Talking about financial well-being and taking advantage of the help available is nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, it’s the best way to maintain confidence in your finances.

As diverse as employees may be, if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s the experience of worrying about money. Whether these worries are in the past, present or future, everyone will almost certainly go through periods of poor financial well-being. This is because it’s about more than simply how much money you have – it’s also about how secure, confident and empowered you feel financially.

Harriet Shepherd, Workplace Financial Well-being Manager at St. James’s Place Wealth Management, says this is partly because financial decisions usually have an emotional aspect attached.

“Everything that might be a money worry is linked to something else in your personal life. For example, wanting to buy a house might be linked to a personal relationship or to a desire to feel secure, so it’s a financial decision that isn’t just about finances.”

Income and life events

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had a big impact on financial well-being. People in higher income brackets were more likely to report that the pandemic was negatively impacting their working life and working relationships than those in lower brackets, according to recent findings by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).1

Those in lower income brackets, however, were more likely to report negative impacts on their personal well-being – a separate ONS study showed that 35% of UK adults who reported being unable to afford an unexpected expense of £850 experienced depressive symptoms in early 2021, compared with 13% of adults who were able to afford this expense.2

“Those people are the most financially vulnerable, and it’s hard to get out of,” says Shepherd. “Trying to navigate the financial implications of a decrease in household income, perhaps due to redundancy, illness, bereavement or injury, especially if you don’t have protection, is very difficult.”

Matters of circumstance 

Family circumstances, such as where others are dependent on you, can also undermine your financial well-being. Those in the so-called ‘sandwich generation’, who find themselves having to support elderly parents as well as their children, can be particularly affected. “That can be a huge cause of stress, especially when it comes to matters such as care for elderly parents. There’s a big emotional aspect that you’re having to deal with,” says Shepherd. “These circumstances are often so massive that you’ll only go through them once or twice, so it’s not like you’ll have learned how to deal with it before.”

Decisions made in relation to retirement fall into this category, such as the challenge of making pensions savings last for however long you need them. “The first worry is trying to define what you need, and the second is working out how and if you’re going to achieve it,” says Shepherd. “That’s a big concern for a lot of people, as well as the worry that you might run out.”

A helping hand 

When you consider the combination of financial concerns coming from debt, unstable incomes, housing costs and unexpected bills, mixed with life-changing events such as redundancy, bereavement and global pandemics, it’s little wonder that financial well-being is as universal as it is.

When it comes to employers, it’s in their best interests to help their employees with their financial challenges. Of the 94% of employees who admit they worry about money, more than 75% say these concerns affect them at work – inevitably also impacting performance and productivity.3

“With all of these financial challenges, it’s important to realise that someone is there to provide support,” says Shepherd. “We help our clients navigate their finances through the different life events and circumstances, with a view to ensuring they are in the best position they can be.”

Free support such as the Money Advice Service and the StepChange Debt Charity are also at the disposal of those dealing with debt. “The sooner you consider any of these possible financial situations, the easier it will be to deal with it,” Shepherd concludes.

Take advantage of our Personal Advice Service if you’d like to learn more or become more confident in your financial well-being.


1 Office for National Statistics, Personal and economic well-being in Great Britain: May 2021 (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey – sample size: 4,000 to 4,500 individuals per week achieved)

2 Office for National Statistics, Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: January to March 2021 (Opinions and Lifestyle Survey – sample size: 4,000 – 4,500 individuals per week achieved)

3 Close Brothers, Financial Wellbeing Index, 2019 (Reproduced with permission from Close Brothers (based on surveys conducted among 1,003 employers with 200 or more employees, and 5,003 employees from companies with 200 or more employees.))

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