21 September 2021

UK missing out financially as a result of ‘want it now’ attitude

New research* by HSBC UK has revealed that nearly half of Brits (49 per cent) say the modern world has made them develop a ‘want it now’ attitude and almost two in five (38 per cent) Brits confess to feeling impatient in life.

Slow walkers, public transport delays and having to wait for the internet to load were among the top factors likely to ignite our impatience. The average adult is willing just wait a maximum of 15 minutes on hold on the phone before hanging up, showing we really are an impatient-nation.

When it comes to finances, four in ten (40 per cent) people admit to spending more money to get what they want quicker, rather than waiting and making savings that could add up over time.

The study also found that despite saving an average of £1,279 over the last year – likely to be due to lockdown – almost two in five (38 per cent) of young adults aged 18-34 have never considered investing it. Almost one in five (19 per cent) say that the time it takes to see returns would put them off investing.

This need for instant gratification is hampering people’s ability to plan for their financial future, whether that’s short term goals such as saving for a holiday or emergency repairs, medium term such as a house purchase or wedding, or long term including building a pot for a child’s education or planning for a comfortable retirement.

Of those that were considering how to grow their money in the long-run, turning to unusual investments in the hope of making a quick financial gain was commonplace among 32 per cent of 18-34-year olds, with investments in things like sports memorabilia (21 per cent), classic cars (23 per cent) and instruments (20 per cent) and even vintage stamps (14 per cent) are all favoured over long term investment options.

The survey found that 57 per cent of this age group blame the rise of technologies like smartphones for them being left with no patience and this unwillingness to wait also applies to people’s finances.

HSBC UK reveals that instant gratification is costing them. Four in 10 are willing to spend more money to get the things they want sooner.

To help impatient Brits take control of their longer term finances, HSBC UK has partnered with psychologist Jo Hemmings to help people conquer their short-term outlooks and set themselves up for longer term success.

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist, said: “Our brains are naturally wired up to enjoy the dopamine hit that comes with achieving instant gratification and this can come from anything in life, including our finances.

“With the amount of technology we have at our fingertips nowadays, it can often feel easy to chase instant fixes in the hope of a quick reward. But there are a few easy things we can all do in these situations that can help us retrain our brains to focus on self-control and prolong our anticipation so we can achieve a longer term, potentially safer, gain.”

James Hewitston, Head of Wealth Management at HSBC UK, said: “While most of us have goals for the future, it can seem a long way off so it’s easy to focus on what we want now and worry about the future later.

“The need for instant gratification is hampering people’s ability to plan for their financial future, whether that’s short term goals such as saving for a holiday or emergency repairs, medium term such as a house purchase or wedding, or long term including building a pot for a child’s education or planning for a comfortable retirement.

Jo Hemmings,
Behavioral Psychologist

“While investments are recommended for a minimum of five years, customers can access their money at any point if they need funds unexpectedly and they don’t need to clear out their savings account to invest. ”

Jo Hemmings’ top tips to train your mind to play the long game and understand instant gratification:

Firstly, we need to understand instant gratification. When we go for instant gratification, sometimes known as the pleasure principle, we get a hit of dopamine, a chemical in our brains that is associated with short-term reward. In regards to finances, these can often be purchasing things we don’t necessarily need.

Social media, online shopping and FOMO have all encouraged our brains to rewire, so that instant gratification becomes an everyday way of life, but you can train yourself to delay that gratification to reap longer term rewards… this relates to all parts of life, including your finances.

  1. Resist temptation. The ability to resist temptation and stick to our long-term goals is often referred to as willpower or self-control and delaying gratification is a central part of this behaviour. Practicing self-control enables us, like any skill, to get better at it and studies have shown that people who do manage to control their behaviour are happier both in the short and the long-term.
  2. Write down goals and break them down into smaller goals. This way you’re protecting yourself from instant gratification by making some decisions for yourself beforehand. This is very useful when trying to hit financial goals, such as saving to buy a house, or a wedding.
  3. Actions have consequences. Remind yourself of these. Just like self-control can help you achieve your goals and improve your physical and mental health, a lack of self-control can have adverse effects on your self-esteem, education, career, finances, relationships, and overall health and well-being.
  4. Set realistic deadlines. Work out what you can definitely afford, without unrealistic sacrifices that you may not be able to keep to. Perhaps look at a few extras that you can do without, and you are much more likely to succeed.
  5. Celebrate small gains. While you don’t want to be extravagant with your hard saved cash, when you hit some of those smaller goals – like saving to a figure that ends in a couple of 00’s for example – treat yourself to an evening out or a ‘gift’ to yourself like a takeaway, or the clothes you’ve wanted for a while!

HSBC My Investment is an online investment service available to the bank’s UK customers that allows people to invest with a starting amount of £50 per month, a lump sum of £1,000, or both, after completing a risk tolerance questionnaire. Internal data from HSBC UK can confirm that, since the tool launched in December 2018, 60% of new investors have been recommended into a high risk fund to help protect their capital and customers have started investing with an average lump sum of around 19 per cent of their savings, so there is no requirement to use them all at once.

HSBC UK customers can currently get up to £100 cashback when they start investing with HSBC UK with a minimum of £4,000 of capital or more. Capital is at risk and eligibility criteria and terms and conditions apply.

The value of investments and any income they generate can go down as well as up, so there’s a risk you may get back less than you invest. Investing is a long term commitment and should be for at least 5 years.

For more information, go to https://www.hsbc.co.uk/investments/products-and-services/my-investment/.

Other findings:

  • Women are more likely to play the long game in a relationship than when it comes to investing their moneyi
  • Just over one in 10 will play the long game when it comes to a healthier diet and taking additional qualifications to grow their career
  • Four in ten (41 per cent) Brits are willing to spend more money to get the things they want faster
  • 18-34-year olds are more likely to play the long game with their relationships (15 per cent) vs investing their money to grow their wealth (14 per cent)

Top 30 things Brits have no patience for:

  1. Being put on hold
  2. People who stand too close to you in the queue
  3. People who cannot keep time/are always late
  4. Sitting in traffic
  5. Slow walkers
  6. Delays on public transport
  7. Shrill noises (e.g. forks scratching on a plate)
  8. Calling to book a doctor’s appointment
  9. Waiting for the internet to load
  10. Waiting for a refund
  11. Loud noises
  12. Waiting for luggage to arrive at the airport
  13. Waiting for a bus
  14. Building flat pack furniture
  15. Calling your internet provider
  16. Waiting for a train
  17. Waiting in the queue for a cash point
  18. Selling/buying a house
  19. Waiting for a text message/email to arrive
  20. Waiting for an online delivery
  21. Eating at a busy restaurant
  22. Waiting for a cheque to be processed
  23. Waiting for your friends/family to arrive
  24. A film to start at the cinema
  25. Waiting for furniture to be delivered
  26. Waiting for a film to load
  27. Thinking of a gift for someone
  28. Ordering food at a restaurant
  29. Waiting for dinner to cook in the oven
  30. Going on multiple dates to find the right partner

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Langston, HSBC UK | hannah.langston@hsbc.com | 0787 080 9313
Email: UKPressOffice@hsbc.co.uk

For the latest news and updates, visit the HSBC UK newsroom:

*Survey commissioned by OnePoll. Sample size was 2000 UK adults ranging from 18-55+. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11-14 June 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

i – 20% vs 18%


Jo Hemmings’ biography
Jo Hemmings is a Behavioural Psychologist and a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She is also an Accredited and Organisational Coach with the Association of Coaching (AOC). She specialises in media and news analysis as well as a being a dating and relationship coach and TV and radio personality.

HSBC UK serves around 14.5 million customers across the UK, supported by 32,000 colleagues. HSBC UK offers a complete range of retail banking and wealth management to personal and private banking customers, as well as commercial banking for small to medium businesses and large corporates.

HSBC Holdings plc
HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of HSBC, is headquartered in London. HSBC serves customers worldwide from offices in 64 countries and territories in its geographical regions: Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, and Middle East and North Africa. With assets of $2,956bn at 30 September 2020, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations.