Wealthy Brits are delaying major life decisions due to the cost of living crisis

by | May 13, 2024

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89% of people with assets of over £250k have delayed a ‘major life decision’ according to the fifth Saltus Wealth Index Report

  • Saltus Wealth Index Report finds 15% of respondents aged 35-44s have delayed having their first child, or adding to their family as official figures show the birth rate continues to fall
  • 9% have delayed divorce plans as divorce rates declines to lowest rate since 1971
  • 20% say they have put plans to start their own business on hold, as the number of businesses in the UK falls for the first time in over a decade

Almost nine in ten of the UK’s high net worth individuals say they have delayed major life decisions including having children, getting divorced, starting a business, and retiring as a result of the current financial climate, according to the latest research from wealth management firm Saltus.

For its fifth Wealth Index Report, Saltus surveyed 2,000 people with assets of more than £250,000 and 89% said they had delayed a major life decision, while 84% said their adult children or grandchildren had.


Wealthier Brits putting on hold family plans 

According to the research, almost one in eight (13%) respondents say they have delayed either having their first child, or adding to their family, rising to 15% amongst those aged 35-44. 

Furthermore, almost one in ten (9%) older respondents said their adult children or grandchildren have delayed their family plans as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.


The numbers are supported by ONS data, which shows that birth rates are continuing to fall, particularly amongst women in their 30s and 40s, and are now at their lowest rate since 2002.

ONS data2 also shows that the divorce rate has declined29.5% to the lowest rate since 1971, and Saltus’ research supports this data, with 9% of respondents saying they have delayed divorce, while 6% say ‘being able to afford a divorce/alimony’ is their single ‘biggest worry’.

UK’s wealth creators are putting entrepreneurial plans on hold 


The Saltus research suggests that wealthier Brits are changing their plans when it comes to work too; 11% have delayed their retirement plans (backed by the fact the average retirement age has increased to 66 from 643), while one in five (20%) have delayed starting their own business.

The fact that some of the UK’s future wealth creators are holding back may also be having a knock-on effect on the economy. Official data4 shows that the number of Value Added Tax (VAT) and/or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) businesses in the UK is down 1.5%, marking the first fall since 2011.

Mike Stimpson, Partner at Saltus, said: Our research shows that the current economic climate has had an impact on the thinking of many high net worth individuals when it comes to major life decisions. 


“The vast majority say they have delayed plans, and while many are not life changing – such as delaying a holiday or the purchase of a car – others are hugely significant, such as putting off a divorce, delaying retirement and even putting off starting or adding to the family. The impact of the current climate on HNWIs additionally has some significant wider impacts, most notably those delaying starting a business. 

“For the UK economy to thrive we need these entrepreneurs to be applying their skill and creativity, investing in and growing the businesses which will offer the jobs of the future and support wider economic growth. But short-term worries are causing understandable hesitation with the clients I speak to, and this should be a concern to us all.”

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