Despite sharing a life together, many couples are reluctant to lay their financial cards on the table. Around 25% keep their current accounts entirely separate, 30% hold savings in separate accounts and 23% maintain separate investments, according to new research from the Prudential.

The research findings also indicate that one in five (19%) couples over the age of 40 have avoided discussing their retirement plans in the last five years, while one in 10 couples (11%) have never discussed them. The lack of retirement conversations extends to whether or not they have professional financial advice together. In the Prudential survey only one in 10 couples over the age of 40 had seen a financial adviser jointly in the past five years to discuss their retirement plans, while 14% admitted that they or their partner had seen a financial adviser on their own, to discuss retirement planning.

The research results also show that avoiding discussions around retirement can lead to a mismatch in how much money each half of a couple expects to live on in retirement. When asked separately to estimate the couple’s expected joint retirement income, men who responded said £35,100 on average, while women respondents said £32,000.

It’s also not just retirement planning that couples avoid discussing – Prudential’s research found that they avoid discussing their finances in general. Six per cent of couples admitted that they had never discussed their finances together and a further 12 per cent had not discussed money for over a year. One in four couples (25%) stated that they keep their current accounts separate and the research records that respondents indicated that money is the third most likely topic to cause arguments among couples.

What might be behind this evidenced lack of financial sharing and communication? Is it just down to traditional gender related culture and behaviour? Is there evidence of a movement towards greater individual independence within relationships, with mutual trust and respect declining alongside a growing expectation that being together may not last? Has our concern for things material and wealth, combined with a growing trend for litigation, led away from couples keeping their savings stuffed under the same mattress?!

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