Preparing for every. kind of future. Britain s savings and investment landscape.

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1 Preparing for every. kind of future. Britain s savings and investment landscape. Scottish Widows Savings and Investment Report February 2013

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3 Contents. Foreword. 4 Executive summary. 5 Savings and Investment Landscape. 6 Part 1. Savings trends 8 Part 2. Savings motivation 10 Part 3. Expenditure 12 Part 4. Financial support for the family 14 Part 5. Investments 16 Preference for cash-based investments 16 Understanding risk and return 16 Risk aversion and the short term 17 Adviser engagement and point of sale 18 Conclusion and key challenges. 20 3

4 Foreword. People s saving habits, it appears, have not progressed as well as we might wish over the past year. But they have not fallen back either, as the latest instalment of Scottish Widows informative annual survey shows us. We should view that positively, given the tough financial pressures of the past several years. And with this research showing long-term savings edging upwards, we should also acknowledge signs for cautious optimism. However small that rise may be for now, a range of initiatives are on the way to fan the flames and embed the benefits of good money management in people s mindsets. The first of these is automatic enrolment into a workplace pension. While pensions are not strictly within the scope of this report, last autumn s adoption of automatic enrolment by large employers has started to default millions of people into a savings habit for the first time. The result, apart from the long-term material reward of a higher income in retirement, will be millions of people benefiting in the short and medium term from the improved health, well-being and peace of mind as these are strongly associated with increasing financial resilience and security. Second is the prospect of a new wave of commercially viable savings products that meet consumers basic needs, which are easy to understand, and which serve as a helpful point of comparison for other more complex products. Analysis carried out for Simple Products initiative has identified that savings products that meet these criteria would be of interest to nearly 30 million adults in the UK. Many of those people will use us for budgeting and planning advice, to take control of their finances and start reducing debts. For others it will be to ensure they have the right levels of protection for themselves and their dependents. For everyone, our advice will help with decisions and steps towards appropriate savings goals, and, ultimately, preparedness for life s ups and downs, both expected and unexpected. Given the significance of saving to our overall sense of stability, security and general well-being, two of our main aims are to get more people saving regularly and saving for retirement and we are making these two of the key outcomes against which our impact is measured. With that in mind, I look forward, with both hope and a little anxiety, to future editions of this excellent report mirroring research of our own that demonstrates increasing numbers of people saving and investing. Caroline Rookes Chief Executive Money Advice Service And then, of course, there is the Money Advice Service. As I joined as Chief Executive in early 2013, 30,000 people every week were using our online guides, tools and action plans, and meeting or calling our money advisers. My aim is to see that number grow to the point where the Money Advice Service is an everyday part of millions of people s lives, and they are making more and better decisions with their finances as a result. 4

5 Executive summary. This is the seventh annual Scottish Widows Savings and Investment Report. As with previous reports, it is a major survey of the UK population, based on 5223 interviews carried out by YouGov between 3rd and 10th December The aim of the report is to assess the savings behaviour of the UK population, observing trends and drilling into the views of various segments of the population. This relies on asking consistent questions over many years and having a large enough sample to provide credible data. Given the scale of this sample and the long-term nature of its subject matter, we might reasonably expect to see relatively small shifts in the results from year to year. Indeed it might be reasonable to hypothesise that any major shifts could result only from a step change in economic conditions. This is what we saw between the early days of the financial crisis as reflected in the 2009 report and one year later, by which point its impacts were evident to all. Moving forward to early 2013, we remain in a challenging economic environment, with no material change to the perception of economic recovery. It s therefore not surprising that very few of our headline indicators have changed materially since last year s report. Moving forward to early 2013, we remain in a challenging economic environment, with no material change to the perception of economic recovery, however, we have seen some small signals of progress, particularly in relation to long-term savings. We have, however, seen some small signals of progress, particularly in relation to long-term savings, but there s a very long way still to go. In particular, the savings perspective of the population remains short term as it aims to generate rainy day funding. While this is unlikely to change soon, our challenge is to incentivise additional longer-term saving, and persuade the UK population that the sacrifice is worth making. Engaging with savings goals remains key. 5

6 Savings and investment landscape. 1. Saving 1. trends Saving trends UK population UK population 11% Do you think Do you think are saving you are enough saving to enough meet your to meet your long-term long-term needs? needs? Expect 11% to see Expect an improvement to see an improvement in the economy in the in economy in % Yes 27% Yes 31% 57% UK 31% adult population UK adult population failing to save. failing to save. Individuals 57% Individuals believe that believe they are that they are saving less saving now than less two now years than ago. two years ago. 36.5% No, 36.5% but not No, far but off not far off 36.5% No, 36.5% definitely No, not definitely not Amount UK Amount adults UK intended adults intended to save to save Amount UK Amount adults UK actually adults saved actually saved ,305 3,305 2,511 2,511 2,283 2,283 2,632 2,632 2,743 2,743 3,467 3,467 2,642 2,642 2,399 2,399 2,764 2,764 2,835 2, Saving 2. motivation Saving motivation UK adults UK average adults savings average per savings annumper annum Long-term Long-term savers versus savers short-term versus short-term savers savers in 4 save 1 in long 4 save termlong term Long term Long (6 10 term years) (6 10 years) 9,072 9,072 13,429 13,429 16,798 16,798 29,777 29,777 47,078 47,078 Short-term Short-term savers perception savers perception short-term. on short-term. 31% less than 31% a less yearthan a year 52% one to 52% two one years to two years 15% three 15% to five three years to five years 6

7 3. Expenditure 3. Expenditure What people What would people choose would to choose cut back to on cut back on (or not) if (or they not) had if they to reduce had to their reduce outgoings. their outgoings. Most likely Most to cut likely back to oncut back on TICKET TICKET 4. Financial 4. Financial support support for the family for the family 40% have 40% given have or loaned given or family loaned members family members substantial substantial amounts amounts of money, of sometimes money, sometimes more than more once. than once. 25% Children 25% Children 9% Parents 9% Parents Cinema/theatre/ Cinema/theatre/ Eating out 65% Eating out 65% Nights out Nights 55% out 55% concerts 52% concerts 52% 6% Siblings 6% Siblings 5% Wider 5% family Wider members family members 5% Grandchildren 5% Grandchildren Short breaks/ Short breaks/ 5. Investments 5. Investments weekends away weekends 47% away 47% CD/DVD/computer CD/DVD/computer games 47% games 47% Behaviours Behaviours Least likely Least to cut likely back to on: cut back on: 7% Have 7% consulted Have with consulted a financial with advisora financial advisor A B C A B C 36% Saving 36% and Saving investment and investment ISAs, were undertaken ISAs, were undertaken directly from directly a product from provider a product or provider a or a Childcare/nursery Childcare/nursery Savings for Savings for Protecting Protecting price comparison price comparison site over the site Internet over the Internet fees 17% fees 17% retirement retirement 17% 17% income 15% income 15% 34% Prefer 34% to walk Prefer into to a walk branch into a branch Providing financial Providing security financial security on death/critical on death/critical illness 15% illness 15% Broadband Broadband Products Products Internet 12% Internet 12% Most commonly Most commonly held saving held products. saving products. 64% of interviewees 64% of interviewees say that having say that no having money no money is a major is barrier. a major barrier. 51% Cash 51% saving Cash account saving account 50% Cash 50% ISA Cash ISA ,099 1,187 1,099 1,187 1,132 1, % Stock 14% & shares Stock & shares 12% Fixed-term 12% Fixed-term rate rate 62% 62% 62% 68% 68% 73% 73% 60% 60% Monthly cost Monthly of running cost of home. running home. Percentage Percentage of range of with age range no money with no available. money available. Knowledge Knowledge With the impact With the on impact RDR on RDR imminent, imminent, the growing the trend growing trend of Internet of consumerism, Internet consumerism, the the implication implication of non-advised of non-advised purchase purchase trends is set trends to rise. set to rise. 7

8 Part 1. Savings trends. The headline figure for 2013 shows that 31% of the UK adult population is failing to save at all, a very slight drop from 32% last year. This represents another year of modest progress following the sharp fall reflected in the 2010 report. At present, are you saving for the short term, long term or not at all? 80% 31% of the UK adult population is failing to save, 11% of the UK population expects to see an improvement in the economy within the next 12 months. 65% 50% 35% 20% Total saving Not Saving Short term Long term 2013 Note: some respondents are counted as both short and long-term savers. This graph demonstrates the relatively static nature of savings over most periods, suggesting the need for a longer-term view and patience when introducing new initiatives. However it also shows that a change in economic conditions can have a major impact. 57% of those who admitted to carrying debts have managed to save money in 2012 (56% in 2011), compared to 71% of those who were debt-free (68% in 2011). However on average, debt-carriers were only able to save around 60% of the money debt-free people put away. Only 11% of the UK population expects to see an improvement in the economy within the next 12 months which is the same low rate as Some better news is that it s the first year since the start of the financial crisis that this indicator hasn t continued to fall after a reduction from 29% in 2010 and 15% in Last year, there was a noticeable gap between the levels of economic optimism among younger and older people. This year this gap has expanded from 12 percentage points to 18, with 25% of 18-24s expecting economic improvement in the next 12 months, compared to just 7% (of those aged 45+). It seems unrealistic to believe that we will see a significant upturn in savings until people s experience of the economy, and their future expectations for it, begin to improve. 11% Expect to see an improvement in the economy in % UK adult population failing to save. 57% Individuals believe that they are saving less now than two years ago. 8

9 The average amount that the UK population is saving has similarly crept up only very slightly since the 2012 report. The diagram below sets this out, both in the context of its longer-term trend and relative to expectation. How much did you INTEND to save last year So we re seeing modest progress here, with the UK population being realistic about what they plan to save and sticking to that plan, indeed demonstrating a slight out-performance. The average amount planned for the year ahead is 2,835, with recent experience suggesting that we ll beat that number. The bigger question that we ll return to later is: is it enough? 57% of individuals believe that they are saving less now than they were two years ago. This is highest amongst those aged 50+ and amongst females. 3,305 2,511 2,283 2,632 2,743 3,305 2,511 2,283 2,632 2,743 How much 2009 did 2010 you ACTUALLY 2011 save 2012last year ,835 is the average amount of saving planned for this year, is it enough? 3,467 2,642 2,399 2,764 2,835 3,467 2,642 2,399 2,764 2,835 9

10 Part 2. Savings motivation. The small movement in the percentage saving is focussed on an increase in people saving for the longer term. In this year s report, we see a stable percentage (54%) saving for the short term, but an increasing percentage saving for the longer term up to 50% from 46% last year. These timeframes make the populations short-term bias even more concerning in the context of longer term savings. 1 in 4 save long term Long term (6 10 years) Short-term savers perception on short-term. 31% less than a year 52% one to two years 15% three to five years So despite the significant challenges we ve identified in recent reports in engaging on long-term savings, we see some progress this year. By way of context, 83% of the population regard the short-term as two years or less, which is a particularly short time horizon. Almost a third of short-term savers (31%) perceive the short term as being less than a year, with over half (52%) as one to two years and a further 15% as three to five years. The long term is anything more than that, though most commonly six to 10 years 41%. This timeframe makes the population s short-term bias even more concerning in the context of longer-term savings. The primary focus of short-term saving for 45% of short-term savers is on emergencies or for a rainy day. 56% of the population believe that their savings would last six months or less if they were unable to work. That is a particularly worrying prospect in an environment of austerity cost cutting and other threats to employment which seem like compelling motives to save. At the other end of the spectrum, the primary driver of long-term saving is to provide me with a more secure future, representing 53% of long-term savers. While it s encouraging that this group of savers understand the need for long-term saving, we should bear in mind that this represents around a half of the 50% of the people who actually save for the long term so only a quarter of the UK adult population. There is a clear challenge to get others similarly engaged. Almost half of short-term savers are saving for emergencies or for a rainy day, there is a clear challenge to engage and educate savers that long-term saving is also key. 10

11 This is reinforced by responses to the question do you think you re saving enough to meet your long-term needs? with 27% believe they are saving enough for the long term. Further to this 30% say they are not far off saving enough, but 37% are definitely sure they are not saving enough. If we accept that some people are unlikely to be in a position to save and ignore zero balances, the average level of savings is 28,772. As we d expect, this varies considerably by age as follows: , , , , ,078 Aside from the age effect, there is a significant gender differential here, with 73% of men having savings averaging 34,517, but only 64% of women with savings of 22,712 a gap in average savings of nearly 12,000. These figures don t include pension savings (or property), so don t give us a complete picture but these figures are captured in our Pensions Reports for 2012, and will be again in However, when we look at these figures in the context of financial support for the family (covered later in this report), they seem modest at best. We ll see in the next section of the report that the average savings figure of 29,777 for a year old represents around twice the average amount lent or given to children ( 14,865). This suggests that a parent making payments to several children and potentially other family members will quickly erode and potentially eliminate their savings. 11

12 Part 3. Expenditure. Throughout the seven years of the Scottish Widows Savings and Investment Report, we ve consistently seen affordability as the major barrier to saving. This year 64% of the sample say that having no money available is a major barrier, slightly down from 68% last year. Interestingly, this figure is relatively constant across social grade and region, but varies significantly by age: 64% say that having no money available is a major barrier, slightly down from 68% last year % ,099 62% ,187 68% ,132 73% % +55 We have also included in the graph the answer to a separate question about the monthly cost of running your home, which includes paying the mortgage, rent, fuel bills and council tax. This initially increases with age, presumably to reflect a higher standard of living and the additional taxes that come with it, then reduces as mortgages are repaid and, in some cases, state benefits are triggered. Monthly cost of running home. Percentage of age range with no money available. 12

13 What s clear from this graphic is that household expenses increase and become a major barrier to saving in the years where we might traditionally expect individuals to shake off their debts, while also at a time when financial commitments to their children will be altering as children may look to move out of the home into work or education. While saving looks difficult, there remain choices to be made about expenditure. The table below shows what people would choose to cut back on (or not) if they had to reduce their outgoings. So it looks like people have a clear sense of the difference between discretionary and critical expenditure (with broadband Internet falling into the latter category). There s also a suggestion here that many could reduce spend on discretionary items if they chose to save more. In practice, though, it s less clear what the UK population is really prepared to do without. Where people have been faced with the challenge of meeting living expenses over the past 12 months, they ve been more likely to turn down the heating 31%, sell items online 23% or cut down on fresh food 16%. Most likely to cut back on Least likely to cut back on Eating out 65% Nights out 55% Broadband Internet 12% Protecting income 15% TICKET A B C Cinema/theatre/ concerts 52% Short breaks/ weekends away 47% Providing financial security on death/critical illness 15% Childcare/nursery fees 17% CD/DVD/computer games 47% Savings for retirement 17% Two positive trends highlighted in the report are that only 13% say that preferring to spend money is a major barrier to saving or investing. In light of the effort made by the Government to improve financial literacy it is good to see 45% of people do not find it difficult to understand how to save or invest. People have a clear sense of the difference between discretionary and critical expenditure and could reduce spend on discretionary items if they chose to save more. 13

14 Part 4. Financial support for the family. We ve highlighted, in previous Savings and Investment Reports, the greater reliance on family members to provide financial support. In this year s survey, 40% confirm they have given or loaned family members substantial amounts of money. This is not just to children, but also to parents, siblings and wider family members. Percentage giving or loaning substantial amounts to: The money given or lent children has been used for a variety of purposes, including: Living expenses 39% House purchase deposit 34% 25% Children 9% Siblings 6% Parents 5% Wider family members 2% Grandchildren Pay-off debt 33% Car 30% Education 20% Credit Card Note: answer includes those who lend money to more than one group. By far the greatest burden here falls on those aged 45 or over, with 22% of year olds and 59% of 55+ year olds having given or lent substantial amounts to their children. Wedding 16% Travelling 10% The mean amounts given or lent to children have risen to 14,865 up from 13,300 in last year s report. This amount increases to 16,617 for 55+ year olds. To put this into context, this represents 35% of the average savings of the 55+ age group, so represents a substantial hit to those savings. So it s every bit as much about giving the child a good start to their adult life as it is about meeting essential costs. A similar split between essential and discretionary items exists for money given or lent to other family members. 14

15 In this year s survey, 40% have given or loaned family members substantial amounts of money. So it s every bit as much about giving the child a good start to their adult life as it is about meeting essential costs. What remains clear is that around half of the payments to children or grandchildren involve a demonstrable sacrifice by the donor, whether in the form of cutting back on spending elsewhere, increasing debt or reducing the intended level of saving. They appear to involve significant amounts that are required when the parent has limited opportunity to recover the payment through earning or saving. The key message is financial planning is key to coping with these payments to family members. 15

16 Part 5. Investments. The survey reveals interesting insights into investor behaviour, product knowledge and the types of advice consumers are seeking to facilitate their investment decisions. Preference for cash-based investments Investors have a good awareness of cash ISAs with 50% of investors having some savings in this vehicle but only 14% of people have a stocks and shares ISA. Looking at this in more detail it is clear that stocks and shares are much more common amongst older age groups, with 20% of over 50s having one, compared with only 6% of 18 to 34 year olds. While direct experience of stocks and shares ISAs is lower at younger ages, the extent of this difference reinforces the need for practical financial education for younger adults. Over half of cash ISA owners (54%) claim that the taxfree element was the main reason for investing. A third of stocks and shares ISA owners state that the fact they are tax-free and the greater rate of return compared to cash investments are the main reasons for investing. Most investors have a good awareness of insurance and protection products, however, a much lower familiarity of market-linked investments. Understanding risk and return Market-linked investments involve risk to capital and require a longer time horizon than a cash portfolio but offer considerable opportunity for enhanced returns. This in turn provides investors with an inflation hedge and a more effective use of the ISA tax advantage. They should be particularly attractive to younger investors who have longer investment horizons Rather than appealing to consumers as part of a diversified investment portfolio, it appears market-linked investments are a residual consideration after home, car and shorter-term liability considerations. 71% of all respondents own (or are in the process of buying) their home, with 35% of doing the same, but only 14% of all respondents are planning to invest in a stock market related product in the next 12 months. Risk aversion and the short term There is a significant amount of investor risk aversion evident in the survey which has continued from previous years. This is manifested through investment and product choice and reflects not only ongoing uncertainty in the financial markets but increased emphasis by the Government on austerity measures - 26% of respondents expected their financial priorities to change due to Government spending cuts. Government cuts, real or perceived, will have done little to encourage investor confidence in the market and will have supported the preference for short-term assets. 16

17 Most commonly held savings products 51% Cash saving account 50% Cash ISA 14% Stock & shares 12% Fixed-term rate ISAs protect capital gains from tax. 50% of respondents are keeping their money in cash ISAs which, although benefitting least from tax protection, are subject to longer-term risk from inflation and are also readily accessible without capital loss in the event of an emergency. The Government, in raising the stocks and shares ISA allowance to 11,280 for 2012/13 tax year, has done little to influence consumer behaviour into increasing investments into market-linked funds. Only 14% of respondents are investing in stocks and shares ISAs and 32% of respondents stated they don t have enough money to save to fill their ISA limits anyway. A clear pattern of investment risk aversion is reflected in the following table which highlights the attitude between younger and older investors and shows a lack of understanding about the risk of inflation across all groups: 17

18 Imagine you have 5,000 that you wish to invest for a period of 5 years. Which ONE of the following investment options would you be most inclined to take? All Male Female A guaranteed increase to 5,250 and no possibility that it will fail 47% 38% 56% 42% 58% A potential increase to 6,000, but the possibility that it will fall to 4,500 24% 27% 21% 24% 19% A potential increase to 7,500, but the possibility that it will fall to 3,600 8% 12% 4% 9% 4% A potential increase to 10,000, but the possibility that it will fall to 0 1% 2% 1% 3% 1% Not sure 20% 21% 18% 22% 18% Almost half (47%) of respondents would give up the potential for higher returns for the certainty that their original investment would not fall. With this option, the guaranteed increase of 5,000 to 5,250 over the five year period results in only a 1% per annum return. While this seems a sensible and loss avoiding strategy when we take into account inflation over the same period this would actually lead to a loss. People s willingness to adopt an investment strategy that would see a potential to beat inflation is limited by their reluctance to see their investment fall. It is interesting to note that women are clearly more risk averse than men and over 55s more risk averse than year olds. Many investors will be prepared to take on more risks if they are educated to better understand them. Respondents appear to be unwilling or unable to access the type of holistic financial advice that might assist them to construct a potentially higher returning, more diversified and tax effective portfolio. This could be because advice is not considered affordable, it is not readily available, or represents a shift in the way that investors purchase their products. 14% are planning to invest in a stock market related product in the next 12 months. Adviser engagement and Point of sale Adviser engagement is very low with only 7% of respondents having consulted a financial adviser to review their personal finances. Consumer advice websites and direct internet purchases have become an increasingly popular mechanism by which to analyse and acquire investments. 36% of savings and investment products including ISAs, pensions and cash savings were undertaken directly from a product provider or a price comparison website. The number of investors enjoying face-to-face engagement on investment products was reasonable with 34% of respondents preferring to go into the branch of a provider to invest. With only 41% of all respondents having a will and 6% having ever used their full stocks and shares allowance, the risk is that key financial planning tools will be overlooked with the trend away from advice. An increase in the number of people choosing to purchase online, either via a comparison site (14%) or directly from a financial provider (21%), is further evidence that this is a trend away from traditional advice driven models. 18

19 The respondents who preferred to purchase products online were, for the first time, asked about their behaviour online. I search online for the best available product. 55% I use a comparison website to find the most suitable product. (e.g. moneysupermarket) 54% With the impact of RDR and the growing general trend of Internet consumerism, the implications of an increase in non-advised purchase trends could be considerable. I will use a consumer advice website (e.g. moneysavingexpert) to guide me to the right product. Once I find a good product, I will search the company online to check their reputation. I will buy from a company I have previously heard of. 42% 35% 30% I will buy from any company I find online. 8% 19

20 Conclusion and key challenges. Our seventh report on the savings and investments arrives just a few months after the introduction of the RDR and automatic enrolment perhaps the most radical change in the long-term savings and investments landscape in a generation. This makes it a good opportunity to reflect upon the trends we have seen over the last few years and consider what the future holds. From an international perspective, the UK household savings rate continues to be relatively low. In recent years we have seen that what people save is very much a reflection of the economic climate a gradual growth to 2009, followed by a sharp reduction to 2011, with modest improvement over the last two years. Given that most economic forecasts suggest that growth will be weak in the short term, there is no suggestion that we will see a radical growth in savings for the foreseeable future. At the same time, consumers are being presented with a huge challenge in regard to financial advice. Regardless of the actual price paid through commissions, many consumers regarded IFAs as a free source of financial advice. Now a price must be paid up front and we have yet to get a clear picture of how many people will seek advice from their IFA, make their own savings decisions, or even reduce or end their existing savings habit. With greater flexibility Automatic enrolment could help people face up to the twin challenge of saving for short-term goals and providing for retirement. Creating a streamlined simplified advice regime remains an attractive idea, but getting there appears as difficult as ever. As an industry we need to reflect consumer appetite to pay for advice in simpler, transparent solutions that meet customer needs in a straightforward manner. And in this we need to work closely with the regulators. We also need to develop innovative ways of engaging consumers at the right time to make long-term saving attractive and affordable. It s a self fulfilling prophecy if you keep putting it off it will become increasingly out of reach and difficult to recover. The introduction of automatic enrolment is perhaps an ideal opportunity to do this. With greater flexibility this could help people face up to the twin challenge of saving for short-term goals and providing for retirement. This might involve a plan that combines the accessibility of an ISA with the tax benefits of a pension. 20

21 However, at the heart of all of this is financial education. Improving our population s awareness and knowledge of financial products is the key to increasing saving. As our research shows, many people are naturally risk averse which can often deliver a negative real return. But, once they are educated to better understand investment decisions, people tend to be more prepared to take on more risk, which should deliver better returns over long periods. Reflecting on our research into savings, it is clear there is no easy answer. But there is clear evidence that a higher domestic rate of saving has multiple benefits ranging from to higher long-term economic growth to a more balanced economy with less reliance on consumer-led economic growth and current account deficits. In this report we have suggested some changes that might help improve the savings rate and culture in the UK. While the RDR and automatic enrolment are initiatives to be welcomed, it remains to be seen whether they are enough to change the UK savings culture. This is something to track in our future reports. Improving our population s awareness and knowledge of financial products is the key to increasing saving. 21

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24 Scottish Widows plc. Registered in Scotland No Registered Office in the United Kingdom at 69 Morrison Street, Edinburgh EH3 8YF. Telephone: Scottish Widows plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Our FSA Register number is /13

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