Last week the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), published the results from the latest wave of the Financial Lives Survey, their flagship tracking survey of consumers’ attitudes about money and financial products and services in the UK. It’s been incredibly rewarding to be part of the team delivering this hugely ambitious work, not just because of the rigor and scale but because the findings produce a genuine change for people who most need it.
There were challenges along the way. Interviewing finished just as the country went into its first lockdown, and soon after many people became adversely affected by the ongoing situation. So we designed and ran research to gather the views of a further 22,000 people to better understand the impact of the unprecedented economic slowdown.
Many struggled – and continue to struggle. The FCA was able to drive through payment holidays and other initiatives to ease the burden, and Financial Lives was an important feed into those decisions.
In some respects, it seems like no time at all, but when I think about what has been done over the last 18 months, it’s a huge achievement to get the survey published last week, together with all the supporting materials including 19 volumes of data tables. If you think of the survey as really 25 smaller surveys all run consecutively that might give you an idea of the scale. And the complexity is magnified by running so much simultaneously.
I am very proud to have been involved right from the outset of Financial Lives several years ago. Critical Research has helped at all stages of the programme, including conducting depth interviews with people who have suffered hardship. This was some of the toughest interviewing, and tears were involved – on both sides.
My primary focus has been data analysis of the quantitative elements. I supported the questionnaire design process, the data collection, and provided intensive data-checking and analysis. And as well as the main volumes of data tables, we’ve produced sets of ‘tracker tables’ which provide statistical tests for year-on-year differences, to detect the direction of travel.
I worked closely with the report writers ‘behind the scenes’ to generate supporting analysis, some charting, and other content. During the various lockdowns I really didn’t mind crunching the numbers on Saturdays and late into the evenings.
The FCA has assembled an excellent team both internally and from specialist suppliers, without exception, it’s been a pleasure to work with. A massive thank-you to everyone involved, not least the nearly 40,000 people who took the trouble to answer the surveys and give their candid views.
And now it all starts again, preparing the next wave. Knowing that this research has a genuine impact on policy and goes a long way to improving the situations of many, provides the enthusiasm to go again for wave 3.
If you would like to talk to me about this type of research, you can email me at [email protected]
Please find links to further reading below.
FCA website links