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Want to live the (Feel)Good Life? Move to Watford

Research by Zopa, the FeelGood MoneyTM company, reveals that those in Watford live a perfectly balanced life in the middle of risky and safe

• Burnham has the most amount of daredevils, whilst Exeter’s residents are most safety conscious according to statistics analysed by behavioural scientist Ivo Vlaev from Warwick Business School

• Zopa has created a personality test to see which UK town would be best for you to live in dependent on the level of risk you take

London, March 2019: Watford in Hertfordshire has been revealed as the place in the UK where people live life in the middle, with a healthy balance of risk and safety, according to research by Zopa, the FeelGood MoneyTM company.

Zopa worked with behavioural scientist Ivo Vlaev from Warwick Business School to create an original ‘Risk and Safety’ Index, which was used to rate the towns and cities across the UK on a number of different data points that correlate to how much risk their inhabitants are willing to take.

The basis of this research used Google Trends data to measure what people in UK towns and cities search for online, and how these online searches affect their daily behaviours, with regard to taking risk vs. playing it safe. The research showed Watford residents to be in the sweet middle spot between risk and caution – balancing an interest in extreme sports with a consideration of the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt

While Watford’s residents sit right in the middle of the scale, at one end of the spectrum, the people of Burnham in Buckinghamshire were seeking the thrills - scoring well above average for interest in gambling and horror films, whilst those living in Exeter showed more of a preference for insurance.

Everyday decisions that come with some risk are part of daily life, such as when to cross the road or eating food after it’s best by date. When it comes to finances, it was found that individuals with a greater risk appetite are more likely to pursue high risk investment opportunities - such as investing in crypto currency - but may also find themselves unable to pay off their credit cards or have issues managing their money each month.

Those living in Watford were found to perfectly balance risk and reward through the specially formulated index that ranked the UK’s towns and cities by correlating their online searches with behaviour in the real world. By using this unique formula, the riskiness was measured by dividing the risk factor by the safety factor.

While Watford residents showed an interest in riskier behaviours such as gambling, or adrenaline sports, they were balancing this with a willingness to find out about vaccination, safety and insurance. This research found that individuals living in the top three ‘middle’ risk towns are likely to engage in risky behaviour and chase rewards, yet still be cautious about the size of investments and how much they pursue risk.

With that in mind – they may be interested to know that Zopa’s IFISA product is designed to help savers who are trapped between choosing to invest in the increasingly risky stock market and the low rates offered by traditional savings products. Being the perfect “middle” ground, the product offers a great alternative for people who want higher returns than cash ISAs, without the volatility of stocks and shares.

Professor Ivo Vlaev, leader of research and a Professor in Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, said: “This research has provided some interesting results, which in the end proved Watford hit the perfect middle ground between risk and reward.

“The easiest and most practical way to investigate human behaviour on a large scale is online, specifically by what people are searching for. Working through this Risk and Reward Index has shown that individuals living in the ‘middle’ risk towns are likely to engage in risky behaviour and chase rewards but remain cautious. These individuals would take the risk of looking for an alternative outside of the mainstream, but would still ensure that they earn a good return.”

Clare Gambardella, Chief Customer Officer at Zopa, added: “As Watford residents know, being in the middle of risk and reward is a good place to be. This research offers a fascinating insight into how different UK towns balance these two factors. Finding the right balance between the two can be challenging, and many towns in the UK saw vast disparities between the two variables.

“Our IFISA product solves that problem. It offers a great alternative at a time when savers and investors face another challenging year. At a time of uncertainty in the UK, balancing risk and reward, particularly with regard to finances is certainly on the rise. Why not take our specially designed quiz to see which town would suit your risk appetite the most? You never know, you might hit the sweet middle spot!”

The IFISA offers a target return of 4.5% in ISA Core and 5.2% in ISA Plus, delivering a healthy balance for customers who want to see a good return without investing in a highly volatile product.

Zopa has been an award-winning peer-to-peer lender since 2005. Since gaining its bank licence with restrictions in December 2018, Zopa will now offer a wider suite of simple, fair financial products that are easy to manage with the aim of making people feel good about their money.

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