More than half of High-Net-Worth-Individuals admit they have been victims of a financial scam, with the self-employed or those with a net worth of more than £3m most likely to have been targeted, according to latest research from Saltus.

The Saltus Wealth Index surveyed more than 1,000 people in the UK with investable assets over £250,000 and an average net worth of £1.5m and discovered that 53% of HNWIs say they have been victim of a financial cybercrime - up from 49% just six months ago. 

The research also discovered that cybercrime is a much bigger concern among HNWIs than it was just six months ago. 

When ranking the biggest threats to their wealth, cyber threats were the fourth biggest threat for HNWIs - with just inflation, COVID-19 and exchange rates being seen as bigger threats, and with one-in-four rating cybercrime as the biggest financial threat. 

Six months ago, COVID-19 was viewed by HNWIs as the main threat to their wealth, followed by inflation, return on investments, Brexit, and Climate Change. Now, the latter two do not feature in the top five, while anxiety about cybersecurity has increased, moving from sixth to fourth.

Of those who had been a victim of a financial scam, 36% say they lost their money - £8,952 on average. However, one-in-five (21%) admitted to losing more than £10,000 and nearly one-in-25 say they lost more than £25,000.

The research found that those most likely to be targeted and lose money were the self-employed, where 74% said they had fallen victim to financial crime compared to 47% of employed respondents. 41% of those self-employed respondents who had been targeted say they lost their money, with losses averaging £9,272.

The data also revealed that the higher the net worth, the more likely the respondent was to say that they had been targeted by scammers. Among those with assets of between £250,000 and £500,000, 36% admit they had been a victim, but for those with assets of £3m or more this rises sharply to 73%. 

Furthermore, those with the most, lost the most - victims with a net worth of more than £3m lost £12,534 on average - almost £5,000 more than those with a net worth of less than £500,000 who had been scammed.

Women are more likely to say they have fallen victim to financial scammers than men - with 60% saying they have been scammed, a rise of 15% in six months - compared to 51% of men. However, men who had been scammed lost considerably more - £10,000 on average for men compared to £6,000 for women.

The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to say they have been scammed, with three-in-five people under 45 admitting they have been victim to a financial crime. 

This then falls to less than half of those aged 45-54, less than one-in-five for 55-64s and then rises again slightly to one-in-four of those over 65. 

Of those who had lost money, those aged 35-44 lost the most on average - £10,307.

Mike Stimpson, Partner at Saltus, said: "We all know that professional advice can help you achieve your financial goals, but one of the lesser known - but hugely important - benefits of having a financial adviser is that they can also help protect you from falling victim to financial crime. 

"With our research showing that 36% of High-Net-Worth-Individuals had lost money to a scam, this is no longer an issue for a small minority but a very real danger to all.

"Financial advisers know markets, they know when something is too good to be true and they have clients' best interests at heart. Ultimately, this means they are a client's best line of defence when it comes to securing their finances from scammers."