Managing money online may not be as effective as we think

February 2015

New research reveals managing money online may not be as effective as we think

A major new behavioural study has revealed that people are able to manage and improve their finances better when they receive bank statements through the post rather than online.

The study by London Economics on behalf of the Keep Me Posted campaign which is thought to be the biggest study of its kind, looked at the effectiveness of paper versus online statements.

The study found that people are twice as likely to remember their bank balance if they receive statements by post (82% vs 32% who receive statements online).

The results also showed that 75% of those who received a paper statement were able to correctly assess the financial health of their account compared to 48% who received an online statement.

In addition, those who received paper statements were also better able to spot ways in which to improve their finances, such as reducing spending (90% compared to 77%) or switching to an alternative account which offered a better deal (90% compared to 85%).

Perception versus Reality
The behavioural tests found that there is a disconnect between people’s perception and reality when it comes to the effectiveness of online statements versus paper statements. While many respondents said receiving information in an electronic format helped them manage their finances better, the result of the behavioural experiment found the opposite was true.
Results from the behavioural tests showed that consumers who received statements and other financial information by post were better able to:

  • Understand the information given
  • Act on that information, and
  • Make better financial decisions as a result than those who receive the same information electronically

In recent years, service providers such as banks and utility companies have increasingly migrated customers to online only statements and in some cases have reduced the frequency of paper bills and statements. However, this research, conducted by London Economics on behalf of Keep Me Posted, demonstrates that traditional paper bills and statements are of great benefit to an individual’s ability to manage their finances and may help people avoid detrimental situations, such as going overdrawn inadvertently or spending beyond their means.

Furthermore, these findings have important implications for organisations – such as governments and companies – that wish to promote positive behavioural changes among the public or their customers. In particular, the results indicate that providing information by post may be more likely to encourage individuals to take action and make better decisions.

Judith Donovan CBE, Chair of the Keep Me Posted campaign, urged consumers to take greater care when managing finances online.
She said: “People’s understanding of the information they receive has important implications on their ability to manage their money effectively. The findings confirm that receiving paper correspondence may help people manage their finances better. It can help them avoid going overdrawn inadvertently or spending beyond their means.”

The full report can be found on the Keep Me Posted website.

About the campaign:
The Keep Me Posted campaign is chaired by Judith Donovan CBE and is a partnership of representatives from more than 70 concerned organisations such as mental health charity Mind, DementiaUK, The Money Charity, and the National Consumer Federation.

Keep Me Posted campaign partners, including Whistl believe that it is every consumer’s right to choose, without disadvantage, how they are contacted by banks, utility companies and other service providers in the face of an increasing trend of businesses switching their customers to mainly digital communication, which isn’t always preferable or suitable for a large proportion of UK consumers. For more information on the Keep Me Posted campaign, please e-mail  

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