Globally, More Respondents Saving for Health Issues, Household Emergencies than Planning for Retirement, Other Longer-Term Goals
New York – Jan. 14, 2014 – According to a new study by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, seven out of 10 global respondents (69%) believe they will achieve all their financial goals for the future, but of those, just 28 percent trust their current planning will be enough, while 41 percent say they will need to closely monitor and adjust investments from time to time in order to best meet their financial expectations. Nearly one-third of global respondents (31%) have no confidence they will meet their financial goals with either current or modified asset allocations.
“Preparing for one’s financial future has implications that go beyond personal needs,” said Oliver Rust, senior vice president, Global Financial Services, Nielsen. “Particularly in mature economies, there are growing concerns about reliance on government to support expenses such as retirement, health care and education, as growing numbers of the population enter retirement age. Understanding consumer sentiment on the saving strategies used to fund financial goals provides insight into how consumers are responding to the challenge of ensuring financial security.”
The Nielsen Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies polled more than 30,000 Internet (1) respondents in 60 countries to evaluate how consumers around the world are preparing for current and future financial expenses. Nielsen evaluated 16 different saving and investment strategies used to fund a range of 14 long- and short-term financial goals (2).
Across all 14 goals reviewed, global respondents’ intentions to save in the future are stronger than current saving activities for all but one goal—health issues (42% active savers vs. 41% future savers).
Plans to save in the future are strongest among respondents in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East/Africa regions, especially for intentions to fund their children’s futures, higher education, first- and second-time property purchases, personal luxuries, financial legacy, and new businesses. In North America and Europe, future saving intentions were comparatively lower for funding higher education, starting a business and preparing for certain life events, such as marriage or having a baby.
“The greater number of respondents planning to save in the future versus saving now suggests an opportunity to better educate consumers on the saving and investment strategies that will help them meet their financial goals,” said Rust. “It also shines a light on the growing wealth accumulation among consumers in the more developing regions of the world and their aspirations for upward mobility with a more secure financial future.”
Nielsen information shows that for those who are actively saving now, health issues and unexpected household emergencies are priorities among more respondents at the global level (42% and 41%, respectively) versus saving for longer-term financial goals.
Saving for unexpected household emergencies drives the highest percentages of active savers in North America (39%), Latin America (38%) and Europe (32%), and the second-highest percent in Asia-Pacific (47%) and the Middle East/Africa (40%). Across all regions—Europe (65%), North America (61%), Asia-Pacific (56%), Latin America (49%) and Middle East/Africa (47%)—saving cash in the local currency is the primary investment strategy used to fund this goal.
Fifty-five percent of respondents in Asia-Pacific claim they are actively saving for health-related issues, as are respondents in more developing regions such as the Middle East/Africa (41%) and Latin America (38%). Respondents in these regions are also more likely to employ diversified strategies in saving for health issues, using a mix of local bank accounts, life insurance and saving plans. North Americans (33%) and Europeans (24%) are comparatively less likely to save now for health-related issues and are less diversified with regard to saving strategies.
“Funding for health care is a significant issue among consumers in many developing countries where assistance from health plans or government sources are not heavily relied upon or available,” said Rust. “These consumers are taking their health seriously and aren’t hesitating to take the necessary means to reach the next level of financial security. They’re actively investing at a higher rate, diversifying their investments to create more predictable outcomes, and focusing on achieving them sooner rather than later.”
Active saving for longer-term issues such as retirement and children’s futures are priorities among one-third of global respondents (35% and 34%, respectively). North America and Asia-Pacific respondents are the most actively engaged in saving for retirement (39% in each region), exceeding the global average. Less than one-third of respondents in Latin America (32%) and the Middle East/Africa (30%) and about one-fourth in Europe (26%) are presently saving for retirement. In Europe, 40 percent of respondents indicate they have no intentions to save for retirement at all, compared to the global average of 22 percent who do not plan to save.
“The difference in public and private retirement benefit programs gives context to retirement saving sentiment reported by consumers around the world,” said Rust. “When Americans retire, public-issued retirement benefits are typically much less than the amount they earned while they were employed; by comparison, Europeans rely on a greater share of their income. But that is changing in some European markets where mandatory employer pension plans are put in place in order to replace government plans in the longer term. Now more than ever, a greater reliance on private savings is needed to compensate.”
Current saving activities to fund their children’s futures are priorities among 43 percent in Asia-Pacific and 35 percent in Middle East/Africa, exceeding the global average. Respondents in Latin America (30%), Europe (25%) and North America (19%) are not as immediately engaged.
“Saving priorities are largely dictated by local market dynamics,” said Rust. “In markets where consumers are hit by high school fees and the lack of public school availability, a significantly larger proportion of income and savings is dedicated toward ensuring children receive a good education from an early age. For consumers in markets where public schools are the norm, we do tend to see longer-term saving strategies that are dedicated specifically to the high cost of ensuring children receive tertiary-level education.”
(1) While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.
(2) The 14 goals evaluated included: health issues, unexpected household emergencies, higher education, children’s future, marriage, loss of job/income, first-time main home property purchase, retirement fund, personal luxury purchase, having a baby, financial legacy, starting a business, upgraded property purchase, and second-home/vacation property purchase.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies was conducted between Aug. 14 and Sept. 6, 2013, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers, and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Survey, was established in 2005.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.