\r\n\r\n\u201cLooking at finances isn\u2019t something that young people do at the best of times, and this definitely isn't the best of times,\u201d says Emma Douglas, managing director of Workplace Savings and Retirement business at Aviva.\r\n\r\nAccording to new findings from Aviva\u2019s \u2018Age of Ambiguity\u2019 study, over half (54%) of UK employees feel anxious when dealing with their finances, even without the added economic and political uncertainty and pressure that has emerged in recent weeks.\r\n\r\nFeelings of anxiety are leading people, especially younger generations, to avoid looking at their finances at all, with 60% of Generation Z and millennials (aged 18-41) adopting this approach as they feel this is often out of their control.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are living in a time of great social, economic, political change, all of which cause uncertainty for people and the younger generations. This is probably the first time they've had to deal with this kind of crisis,\u201d Douglas says. \u201cWhen times are in flux, it's really easy to not feel very confident about your finances because finances can be intimidating to people.\u201d\r\n\r\nParticularly, financial avoidance is playing out against a backdrop of persistent, general anxiety for many working people, with one in four (27%) employees in the UK\u2019s largest businesses (with 1,000+ staff) feeling very anxious from day to day.\r\n\r\nAcross businesses of all sizes, Generation Z and millennials report the highest level of financial anxiety (69% and 73% respectively), leading to people avoiding looking at money matters out of fear of what they will find. This is substantially higher than older cohorts, with around half of Generation X (aged 42-57) feeling anxious when dealing with their finances and just over a third (36%) of baby boomers feeling the same.\r\n\r\nRyan Hancock, associate partner at Hazlewoods, says: \u201cThe property ladder has become less accessible, with house prices increasing at an exponential rate.\u201d He explains that young adults are coming out of university with a substantial amount of student debt which they have no immediate plans or ability to repay, taking away some of their ability to get on the housing ladder and putting them in a place where saving is either \u201cdifficult or impossible\u201d.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere is also a whole host of technological advances which have meant that access to day-to-day credit and student debt is more accessible than ever before,\u201d Hancock adds. \u201cTherefore, the illusion of almost free money to support a lifestyle that young people enjoy is more prominent in their mind.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe highlights that financial anxiety is always there due to an accumulation of debt. \u201cThe avoidance comes in as young adults don't see the light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon. All of those factors were there pre-Covid, and prior to the cost-of-living crisis and overseas conflict. These have been gradually increasing for quite a number of years, and recent circumstances have just added exponential pressure,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nDouglas highlights: \u201cThere's not an awful lot of knowledge that people have to fall back on in these times.\u201d According to Aviva\u2019s research, predictions that the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis will affect younger generations disproportionately in the years to come, has meant nearly half (49%) of working parents say their top concern is their children\u2019s financial future.\r\n\r\nAccording to Hancock, these economic challenges have all accelerated some of the difficulties that might have taken another three to five years to present themselves. He says: \u201cSome of these things might settle down and these problems will start to alleviate, but I don't think they will ever go away completely. There'll be something else coming along around the corner, which we haven't predicted yet.\u201d\r\n\r\nHow can accountants protect young clients?\u00a0\r\n\r\n\u201cIt's all about communication; we try to keep in touch with our clients regularly to ensure we're up to date and that we're doing the right things for them,\u201d Hancock emphasises. \u201cIt\u2019s all about understanding the personalities involved and identifying those that are more likely to take risks than others, those that are more entrepreneurial.\u201d\r\n\r\nHe adds: \u201cThe more interesting question is how to capture those that slip through the gaps that don't have professional advisors looking at them and don't have access to appropriate advice.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cUnless there's a market for firms to target those individuals, it's almost a vicious circle.\u201d He explains that young people tend to own small businesses with little investment and want to save what they have to progress their businesses. \u201cThere's a two way street to be thought about: there's the advisors looking and having an appetite for dealing with those sorts of businesses, as well as those businesses themselves looking for the right advice.\u201d\r\n\r\nFrom a business advisory perspective, firms can aid businesses in providing young employees with resources around basic budgeting, credit scores, and managing debt. \u201cThe workplace is a great place for people to access information and employers are key to help. They can signpost and launch seminars, online tools and financial check ins,\u201d Douglas says.\r\n\r\nShe adds: \u201cThey can also launch employee benefits, assistance programs, and financial debt advice.\u201d It's important to provide a different variety of options for employees, Douglas reveals, because each individual is in a different financial situation.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere's a chance this crisis continues for a while longer so we need to help people engage more with their finances, give them the knowledge that they need to plan and manage so they\u2019re not frightened about what the future may hold,\u201d Douglas concludes.