HONG KONG, 9 December 2015 – Women in Hong Kong are pessimistic about their financial future, with those in their forties more concerned about and less prepared for retirement than their older counterparts, according to research published by Fidelity International today.
The ‘Making retirement work: Are women in Hong Kong ready for an independent old age?’ report reveals that the majority of women aged 40 or above are worried about retirement, but many have no plans or savings and little confidence in their ability to make sound retirement-related financial decisions. The report is based on independent research conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which surveyed 1,000 women aged 40 or above and interviewed six experts and academics to explore Hong Kong women’s attitudes to retirement planning and preparation*.
KP Luk, Head of Hong Kong Defined Contribution Business, Fidelity International said, “Hong Kong’s population is aging and we expect the longevity gender gap to continue, with women outliving men by a number of years. Currently, there are twice as many women as men in the over-85 age group, and the difference is expected to quadruple by 2050. This means that women will have to spend a much longer and increasingly independent retirement, which makes financial planning at a younger age even more vital for our aging female population.”
「“The youngest age group, 40-49 years, are the most unprepared and the most likely to fall into the ‘crushed and concerned’ category, where they feel overwhelmed for retirement future. Much of the younger generation’s negativity may be rooted in a very Hong Kong issue – the red-hot housing market. A lot of them cannot afford to buy their own flat and they are worried that they might be renting forever,” KP Luk said.
No control on retirement arrangement
The Fidelity International survey revealed that only 37% of Hong Kong women aged 40 or above feel confident that they will be able to decide when they retire. The pessimism is most pronounced among those aged 40-49 with 27% of them feeling confident.
No retirement savings
More than one in five women (22%) in their forties have saved nothing for retirement, compared with 10% and 16% of those aged 50-64 and 65+ respectively.
No confidence in retirement life
Slightly more than one in four women (28%) in their forties expect to maintain their current living standards in old age, compared with 32% of those aged 50-64 and 47% of those over 65. Just over a quarter of women (26%) in their forties think they will have sufficient savings for a comfortable retirement, which is much lower than those aged 50-64 (37%) and 65+ (42%).
“Women in their forties are better off than other age groups, with relatively higher income and a better education profile. However, they also shoulder a greater financial burden than their older counterparts. For this younger generation, anxiety about financial planning and the on-going challenge of combining a career with motherhood are having a detrimental effect on retirement preparedness. Their confidence level is indeed very low,” Mr Luk said.
Women forced to choose between career and family
“Retirement anxieties are fuelled by concerns about lack of career progression and declining family support, with 40-49 year olds again impacted the most. Over half of the women surveyed feel that they will have to compromise on their career ambitions if they have children. They are the so-called ‘sandwich generation,’ caring simultaneously for both children and parents,” he continued.
Around one-third of women aged 40-49 feel that their careers have already plateaued. In addition, women in Hong Kong expect to receive less family support in their old age. Of those in their forties, 60% anticipate that they will look after their parents as they get older, yet only 24% expect their children to look after them in return, in comparison to 63% of women aged over 65.
Financial independence does not equate to financial planning
“Retirement-related financial planning is an area where Hong Kong women feel relatively under-equipped. While they chose inflation as one of the three biggest risks to a comfortable retirement, the vast majority (87%) of women in our survey keep their savings in the bank, where they generate minimal returns. Clearly, there is a need for greater education about financial planning, including the importance of considering other assets beyond cash to maintain a diversified portfolio that will balance inflation and market fluctuation risks,” Mr. Luk said.
More than half of the women (58%) feel unprepared to make financial decisions about their retirement, with more than two-thirds of women (69%) in their forties in this category.
“While many of these women are financially independent now, it’s clear they need more support to ensure they are actively planning for their retirement. Government, employers and the financial sector all need to work together to provide better education about effective financial planning to women of all ages. More important, women have to be more proactive to learn retirement planning and translate financial independence into financial planning,” Mr Luk commented.
*The survey was conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit between 27th May and 19th June 2015. The survey involved approximately 1,000 women aged over 40, primarily living in Hong Kong or between Hong Kong and elsewhere, and with a monthly household income above HK$7,000.
Kate Cheung, Corporate Communications Senior Manager (Tel: +852 2629 2641 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
About Fidelity International
Fidelity International offers world-class investment solutions and retirement expertise. As a privately owned, independent company, investment is our only business. We are driven by the needs of our clients, not by shareholders. Our vision is to deliver innovative client solutions for a better future. Established in 1969 as the international arm of Fidelity Investments, which was founded in Boston in 1946, Fidelity International became independent of the US organisation in 1980, and is today owned mainly by management and members of the original founding family. We invest US$258 billion globally on behalf of clients in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. Our clients range from central banks, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, large corporates, financial institutions, insurers and wealth managers, to private individuals. In addition to asset management, we offer investment administration and guidance for employer benefit schemes, advisers and individuals in several countries. We are responsible for US$81 billion in assets under administration. (Data as at 30 September 2015)