We live in a world full of choice. By most measures this has to be a good thing. Having options is a signifier of the opportunities we’ve created for ourselves and it gives us a sense of satisfaction that we’re in control of our lives.

But what happens in our hectic schedules when we have too many options to choose between – from the foam we get in our morning coffee to the lender we pick for our 25-year mortgage – does making decisions start to overwhelm us?

This modern phenomenon is called decision fatigue – the effect of having too many decisions causes apathy and can paralyse us from making any decision at all.

Barack Obama summed up the problem during his time in office: “You’ll see I wear only grey or blue suits – I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

As the former President recognises, fatigue isn’t so much of an issue when it comes to what we wear or eat. But if it’s affecting our capacity to make significant decisions about our life that will stretch far into the future, with consequences not just for us but the future generations of our family, then it’s something we need to address.

Epidemic of Indecision

Research carried out earlier this year indicated that up to four million of us in the UK are putting off engaging with our financial planning due to decision fatigue.

The analysis, carried out by Scottish Widows and YouGov, painted a picture of a society where many of us (an estimated 6.4 million in the UK) complain that we simply don’t have the mental space to devote to making the right choices over key life decisions. The report threw up some further startling headline numbers:


  • 47% of people have never thought about making changes to their pension
  • Only 29% are happy that they are making the best possible choice when it comes to their pension arrangements

Insurance cover:

  • 51% have not decided whether or not to purchase critical illness cover
  • 38% are undecided about buying life insurance

When the respondents were asked why they weren’t engaging with these decisions, 19% said they found them too time-consuming while 17% believed them to be too stressful. Even those who did get around to addressing their financial planning often didn’t devote their full attention to it:

  • 11% dealt with their financial admin at work
  • 44% sorted theirs at home sitting on the sofa
  • 52% did it while ‘dual-screening’ with the TV or a film on in the background

The Opposite of Decision Fatigue

It goes without saying that deferring or dithering over financial decisions is not the best way to build a secure financial future. Put in the simplest of terms, the later you make a decision, the less time your investments or pensions have to increase in value.

That said, we know that much rides on these choices so we completely understand the very human instinct to avoid what can often be big, complicated decisions affecting the lives and wellbeing of you and your loved ones.

Everyone is different, and we all have our own set of circumstances, our personal fears and ambitions. Many of our clients have highly complex professional and personal situations to address. I’m happy to say that these complex circumstances are the reason why Progeny exists.

Firstly, we can of course assist you with your financial planning decisions. Working with you, we allow you to see the big picture, figure out what’s important, help you cut cleanly through the noise and get you on track for the financial goals you’re striving for.

Secondly, we can also go further than this. Our unique framework of coordinated advice and insight was created for clients who need expert support across a number of areas of their lives. That’s why we provide integrated financial and legal solutions, covering everything from your personal tax return completion to your business HR issues.

Financial decisions don’t exist in a vacuum. They can regularly lead on to associated legal requirements like Will-writing, establishing trusts and setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney. While ordinarily this would generate another list of decisions about which solicitors to choose and how to coordinate this with your financial planning, Progeny can deal with all of this for you in-house.

The way we work and the service we provide for our clients is like the opposite of decision fatigue. Making one decision to talk to us means more decisions taken off your plate, so more mental space to get on with the rest of your life.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

This article is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.

Past performance is not indicative of future results and the value of investments can fall as well as rise. No representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.

Andrew Clarke

Associate Director, Wealth

Andrew joined the company as a Wealth Planner in October 2010, and was appointed to our board of directors in June 2014.

Learn more about Andrew Clarke