With a growing number of consumers believed to be keeping money secrets from their partners,  many couples in the UAE are putting their finances and retirement at risk, advisers have warned.
Sources told Gulf News that a significant number of married residents in the country have a habit of hiding financial information, ranging from debts, shopping expenses, income and assets, from their spouses. Experts warned the practice does not only endanger a couples’ relationship, it makes it difficult for financial planning.
“I have had instances in meetings where clients have initially been reluctant to tell me about their full financial situation, but I cannot help if I do not know the full picture. It would be like going to the doctor and not telling them all of the symptoms you are suffering from,” said James Thomas, regional director at Acuma Independent Financial Advice.
Steve Gregory, managing partner at Holborn Assets, said it is mostly men who don’t come clean about how much money they have, although many couples tend to have a full understanding when it comes to matters like property, investments and insurances.
“I believe that the majority of men in Dubai hide their wealth from their wives, and also that some wives hide their debts from their husbands. People in second marriages are even more likely to hide their assets and liabilities from their spouses,” Gregory told Gulf News.“I’ve dealt with couples who don’t tell their spouses about the Ferraris or houses they buy. I think people who do this feel insecure about their relationship,” said one psychologist in Dubai.
A new research released this month by financial services firm Prudential showed that 22 per cent of people in a relationship in the UK are hiding their debts, worth £7,800 (Dh46,876) from their other halves. About one in four (26 per cent) admitted to keeping a stash of money hidden from their partner. Many of those who have kept mum about their debts (48 per cent) said they had borrowed to cover every day living costs, while a third (34 per cent) ran up credit after overspending due to an emotional event.
Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, warned that keeping financial secrets could pose a serious risk to a couple’s future retirement income. “Having those potentially awkward conversations so that both partners get full understanding of their financial circumstances is an important step for a couple planning for a comfortable retirement.
“Hidden debts and savings can be harmful to a relationship as it can lead to mistrust and concern about what else is hidden. If you should find yourself in this position, I believe honesty is the best option, after all, a problem shared is a problem halved,” added Thomas.