One in four Brits don’t have a confident understanding of their personal finances

Posted by: Lowell|May 24 2021


  • Over half of Brits don’t understand the meaning of arrears (52%), ISAs (53%), or CCJs (65%) whilst 44% of Brits don’t know what an overdraft is

  • However, 84% of Brits believe that being taught about finances at school could help prevent financial issues in the future

  • One in five young people (aged 16-24) now use social media to access financial advice (20%)

With the last year throwing many people into financial turmoil, the importance of having a firm grip on your personal finances was highlighted more than ever. However, a new study has found that more than one in four (28%) people in the UK don’t feel confident when it comes to handling their personal finances.

The research, from debt management company Lowell, has found that just a third of people (34%) claim to feel “very confident” when handling their finances. This then falls to just 19% of young people (aged 16-25).

The research also found that a significant number of Brits don’t understand key financial terms such as ‘overdraft’ (44%), ‘mortgage’ (46%), and ‘arrears’ (52%).

Financial education from a young age could be the key to helping young people better prepare themselves financially, as 84% of Brits believe that being taught about finances at school could help prevent financial issues in the future.

Where do we get our financial advice from?

Confusion over personal finances could be linked to the varied sources from where Brits look for financial advice.

When looking for financial advice, over a third (36%) of Brits say they would go to their bank whilst 35% would see a financial advisor. However, a quarter (27%) rely on family and friends for advice, and 9% use social media.


Sources of financial advice % of UK
Your local bank 36%
Financial advisor 35%
Google 30%
Family / friends 27%
Newspapers 9%
Social media money influencers, eg TikTok, Instagram etc 9%


Personal finances in young people

Young people seem to be struggling when it comes to understanding their personal finances. A huge 44% wouldn’t say they were confident with their finances, and one in 10 (11%) claim to have no confidence at all in their own understanding of personal finance.

Just a fifth (20%) of those aged 16-24 knew what an overdraft was, and only 5% claimed to know the meaning of arrears.

As well as this, young people are more likely to use social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to access financial advice than go to a bank (19% Vs 17%).

Hannah Cribb, 22, from Liverpool, agrees that she lacks confidence when it comes to her finances. She said:

"I have a bank account and a student overdraft, and I know my wages get paid into my bank account, but that’s about it. I don’t have any loans or credit cards, and I wouldn’t even know where to start looking if I wanted one. I would feel stupid going into my bank as I would have no idea what to ask for!

“I sometimes watch TikToks about financial advice but it’s more about money-saving tips and that kind of thing. If I needed a loan or anything I’d probably just ask my mum where she would go and do the same.

“I do think financial education is really important – I’d love to have to confidence to do more with my money, but I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

Commenting on the findings, John Pears, UK CEO of Lowell, says: “It’s worrying to see how one in four people just don’t feel confident with their personal finances, given how critical this is to be able to manage your money well.

“We really want to encourage people to get some help in order understand their finances better, through trusted, regulated channels that ensure all advice is in the individuals’ best interests.

“We believe it is so important for consumers to feel empowered and in control of their finances, here at Lowell we are talking to consumers daily and directing them for advice where it is needed. A range of independent and impartial support is available for anyone who is struggling with their finances. A helpful list is available at our website




  • Survey conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Lowell, 04/05/21 - 07/05/21. 1,001 general respondents in the UK
  • When asked ‘How confident do you feel when it comes to handling and understanding your personal finances?’ 28% of respondents answered either ‘Not at all confident’, ‘Not very confident’ or ‘Neither confident nor unconfident’

About Lowell

Lowell is one of Europe’s largest credit management companies with a mission to make credit work better for all. It operates in the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Lowell’s unparalleled combination of data analytics insight and robust risk management provides clients with expert solutions in debt purchasing, third party collections and business process outsourcing. With its ethical approach to debt management, Lowell always looks for the most appropriate, sustainable and fair outcome for each customer’s specific circumstances. Lowell was formed in 2015 following the merger of the UK and German market leaders: the Lowell Group and the GFKL Group. In 2018, Lowell completed the acquisition of the Carve-out Business from Intrum, which has market leading positions in the Nordic region. It is backed by global private equity firm Permira and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. For more information on Lowell, please visit our customer website: or our investor website:


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