£50bn cost to the economy of workers’ worries over money

Money worries among workers are resulting in a £50bn productivity loss to the British economy, one of the region’s leading financial bosses has claimed.

Mike Regnier, pictured, chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, used his first speech as the chairman of the Building Societies Association (BSA) to issue an impassioned plea for more to be done at corporate level to encourage staff pools to have greater financial resilience to ensure their personal and professional lives are less prone to stress from lack of funds.

Mr Regnier, who will hold the position at the BSA for two years, plans to use his time in the role to promote the agenda of better personal finance management to a wider audience.

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Speaking to BSA members as he took on the role, he said: “We also know that people worry more about money than their health, relationships or career problems.

“And that this lack of financial well-being has an adverse effect on productivity – something that is of huge interest to UK PLC and public policy-makers.

“UK productivity has remained stubbornly flat for years.

“Money worries and a lack of individual financial resilience currently cost the economy around £50bn a year in lost productivity – which is bad for everyone.

“In our sector part of our focus is on helping people to save.

“So let me leave you with a question – given this backdrop, isn’t there more that our sector, whether individually or in partnership with others, can do to help improve individual financial resilience?”

The society boss has already rolled out the programme within Yorkshire Building Society and was inspired to do so after data showed the UK to be among the weakest nations in Europe for saving money.

Just 4.5 per cent of gross household income in the UK is saved as compared with 17.3 per cent in Germany and 17.6 per cent in Sweden.

Some 11 million people in the UK aged between 16 and 64 do not save, 7.5m of whom are in work.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post before taking up the role, Mr Regnier said: “It is a fundamental issue. We have to get education concerning numeracy to be better and there is loads of stuff we can do.

“Literacy rates have improved well in recent years but numeracy rates have become worse.

“And in today’s economy that is just so important. Financial worries can contribute so much in terms of stress and absences.

“It is a massive problem but there is also a big opportunity out there.

“We must encourage employers to help employees develop better financial resilience.”

Mr Regnier, who took on the reins at Bradford-based Yorkshire Building Society back in 2017, said that he was delighted to be taking on the BSA chair role and that he was particularly gratified to have it back in Yorkshire.

“I want to champion the sector and its members,” he said.

“We are good about helping people build greater financial resilience and have a roof over their heads, but I want us to become more relevant, have more members and build a greater market share.

“The mutual ownership model has never been more relevant.”

Mr Regnier joined YBS as chief commercial officer in 2014 before taking on the organisation’s senior leadership role.

Prior to this he had a decade-long career in strategic management consulting in the banking and food sectors.