Half of High-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) admit they have been victims of a financial scam, rising to almost two thirds of those with assets of more than £2m, according to the inaugural Saltus Wealth Index.
The Saltus Wealth Index surveyed more than 1,000 people in the UK with investable assets over £250,000 to gain insight into their thoughts, feelings and experiences, financially and personally.
When asked if they had ever been a victim of a financial scam, 49% of all respondents said they had, with wealthier respondents more likely to have reported being targeted.
Amongst those with assets of between £250,000 and half a million, just over a third (36%) said they had been a victim of financial crime, and this figure rose steadily with wealth, up to 41% for those with assets of between half and million and £1m, and to more than half (53%) of those with between £1m and £2m.
However, the level of reported crime is even higher among people with the greatest assets, standing at 66% of those with assets of between £2m and £3m, and 65% – for those with £3m or more.
The research also found that women are slightly more likely to say they have been victims of a financial scam than men – 52% said yes compared to 48% of men.
Gen X reports the highest level of scamming
In terms of age groups, those aged 35-44 were the most likely to report that they had been targeted – 57% said they had compared to 48% of millennials, 51% of 25-34s, 31% of 55-64s and just 18% of over 65s.
While overall, just under half (49%) of respondents said that they have been a victim of a financial scam or cybercrime, this figure rises to three in five in Yorkshire and the Humber. Other regions where the number of HNWIs that say they have been a victim of financial crime is higher than the national average are the North East and West, the East Midlands, Northern Ireland and the South East. In comparison, just a quarter of HNWIs in the South West and less than a third in Wales say their wealth has been threatened by a scam.
Commenting on the data, Mike Stimpson, Partner at Saltus, said:
“We all know that professional advice can help you achieve your financial goals, but one of the lesser known – but hugely important – benefits of having a financial adviser is that they can also help protect you from falling victim to financial crime.
“We can see that people aged between 35 and 44 are most likely to have reported being scammed. While this study focuses on reported crime and so we cannot definitively conclude that this age group is actively targeted by criminals, logic suggests that those starting to think about what they might do when they can access their pension (at age 55) could be more at risk as fraudsters see an opportunity to scam people out of their pension pot.”
Stimpson added: “As a general rule, it is best to ignore – or ideally, report – any unsolicited contact as a genuine financial adviser would not cold call about a specific investment opportunity. Any unconventional commission arrangements should also raise a red flag.
“Having a long-term relationship with a financial adviser can give you real peace of mind, not only that they are making your money work for you, but also that they have your back when it comes to protecting your wealth.
“Financial advisers know the markets, they know when something is too good to be true and they have your best interests at heart and ultimately, this means they are your best line of defence when it comes to financial scams.”