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EDITIONS
 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 04:37 GMT
One in five 'suffers banking phobia'
Woman and bills
Up to nine million Britons have 'financialphobia'
One in five Britons suffers from financialphobia, a recognisable condition rendering them unable to handle their personal finances, according to research.

Sufferers are often left feeling anxious, bored or guilty when they are faced with routine money matters like opening a bank account or checking their balance.

Despite efforts to persuade them to take responsibility for their affairs many will avoid doing so at all costs.

The study, by a Cambridge University academic and finance group Egg, found almost half of the British population displayed some symptoms of the condition.

The symptoms
Under 35s most likely to suffer
More women than men affected
54% of sufferers feel apprehension
38% have no interest in finances
45% suffer racing heart
12% feel physically ill
11% feel dizzy
15% become immobilised

"Financialphobes can be intelligent people who are high achievers in most areas of their lives - they are not irresponsible, feckless or spendthrift," said Dr Brendan Burchell, of Cambridge University's faculty of social and political sciences.

"They have become entwined in this psychological syndrome which makes it very difficult for them to deal efficiently with their personal finances."

He said up to nine million people suffer from the psychological and physiological condition.

It is found among people of all ages and classes and usually occurs after people experience some kind of financial upset, Dr Burchell added.

Causes among the 1,300 people questioned were being mis-sold a financial package, dissatisfaction about the amount of time taken up by money matters and confusion over complex information.

Patrick Muir, marketing director at Egg UK, said: "The complexity of some financial products, combined with an individual's lack of confidence in dealing with financial material is a recipe for financial phobia."

'Unsustainable rate'

The report was published less than a week after city watchdog the Financial Services Authority (FSA) said UK consumers were taking on too much debt.

It said borrowing was at an "unsustainable rate", and consumers were not being prudent enough.

According to the FSA's research, 20% of families now owe an average of more than 2,000 on credit cards.

And six million of the 30 million families in Britain are have some problems meeting interest payments.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Marcia Hughes
"They are petrified about discovering what state their finances are in"
  Dr Brendan Burchell
"Some people felt ill at the thought of dealing with their finances"
BBC News Online is running a week-long series on dealing with personal debt


Debt busting

Analysis

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See also:

22 Jan 03 | Business
28 Nov 02 | Business
16 Jan 03 | Business
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