Press release: Four in ten Welsh adults do not know their bank balance

Wednesday 18 November

The Money Advice Service and the UK Financial Capability Board today issue findings of research into Wales’ ability to manage money*. Among the key findings are:

  • 15% of people in Wales cannot read a bank balance
  • 38% of adults do not know their bank balance within £50
  • Almost of quarter of people (23%) are reliant on credit
  • 1 in 5 people in Wales are over indebted**
  • 3 in 10 people have a financial goal and a plan to help them achieve it

The survey, conducted amongst nearly 800 people across Wales, shows that Welsh money management skills remain stubbornly low. Overall the findings indicate that people in Wales, like the rest of the UK, have a ‘live for today’ attitude when it comes to money rather than saving for tomorrow. Almost a quarter of people are reliant on credit and a worrying number of people are unaware of how much money is in their current account.

Financial education has been high on the agenda for the national curriculum in Wales. In some aspects that is reflected in the findings of our survey; 85 per cent of people in Wales can read a bank balance compared to just 78 per cent across the UK.

Findings from today’s research will be used to support the Financial Capability Strategy for Wales and we are working closely with Welsh Government to ensure all of our work informs the Welsh Government’s refreshed Financial Inclusion Strategy that is out now for consultation.

Commenting on the findings, Lee Phillips, Wales Manager, Money Advice Service, said: “It’s great to see that in some ways financial literacy in Wales exceeds that of the rest of the country, but overall these findings still show a worrying trend. Almost a quarter of us in Wales are relying on revolving credit and half of us are prioritising our wants and needs today at the expense of long-term saving.

“We are making good progress in Wales through education in schools and with schemes like the Big Lottery’s Talk, Learn, Do: Parents, Kids and Money starting soon, we are empowering parents to teach their children about Money as well. We’re thrilled that today’s findings will play a crucial role in informing the refreshed Wales Financial Inclusion Strategy and we look forward to supporting the Welsh Government’s effort to get the nation talking and thinking about money.”

Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, said: “While I am pleased this report shows people in Wales outperform the rest of the UK in some key aspects of financial literacy, we know there is still work to do. Tackling financial exclusion is especially important during these challenging economic times, and the Welsh Government is committed to helping people across Wales get the skills and support they need to manage their finances well.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in developing the Financial Capability Strategy for Wales, which will support our refreshed Financial Inclusion Strategy. I look forward to continuing to work with the Money Advice Service and our other partners for the benefit of everyone in Wales.”

Information about the Financial Capability research can be found at


Notes to Editors

*****Financial Capability Survey 2015 was conducted by GfK for the Money Advice Service. Interviews conducted online and face-to-face in-home between April and July 2015. Wales data based on 795 interviews. UK data based on 3,461 interviews.

**Based on modelling work by CACI for Money Advice Service, October 2015

About the Financial Capability Board The Financial Capability Board’s membership includes senior and influential representatives from government, regulators, the financial sector and key charities from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who together can deliver maximum impact. The Financial Capability Board is chaired by Andy Briscoe and the Money Advice Service acts as the Board’s secretariat.


  1. Andy Briscoe, Chair, the Money Advice Service (Chair of the Board)
  2. Jasper Berens, Head of UK Funds, JP Morgan
  3. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Senior Advisor, HSBC and Chair of the Financial Inclusion Commission
  4. Benny Higgins, Chief Executive Officer, Tesco Bank
  5. Professor Elaine Kempson, Emeritus Professor, University of Bristol
  6. Lily Lapenna, Founder & Co-Chief Executive Officer, MyBnk
  7. Phil Loney, Group Chief Executive Officer, Royal London
  8. Eleanor Marks, Deputy Director Communities Division, Welsh Government
  9. Louise Macdonald, OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Young Scot
  10. Gwyneth Nurse, Director of Financial Services, HM Treasury
  11. Steve Pateman, Executive Director, Head of UK Banking, Santander
  12. Caroline Rookes CBE, Chief Executive Officer, the Money Advice Service
  13. Roger Sanders OBE, Managing Director, Lighthouse Group
  14. Sir Hector Sants, Chair, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group and StepChange Debt Charity
  15. Otto Thoresen, Chair, National Employment Savings Trust
  16. Sian Williams, Head of National Services, Toynbee Hall
  17. Chris Woolard, Director of Strategy and Competition, Financial Conduct Authority
  18. Tom Wright CBE, Group Chief Executive Officer, Age UK

For more information please contact:

Money Advice Service Press Office

020 7947 5315 /