Hongkongers approaching their golden years with trepidation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong people have become more enthusiastic about retirement, but when it comes to funding those golden years, they feel the most insecure.

A study by AXA Group, a financial protection and wealth management company, found the proportion of working people viewing retirement positively increased from 48 per cent in 2006 to 61 per cent last year.

However, 34 per cent expected life to worsen after retirement, the highest of 26 places surveyed. Only 15 per cent knew the size of their retirement income, the lowest of the countries surveyed.

The retirement income of survey respondents increased 26 per cent from 2006 to 2007, to an average of HK$8,434 per month, and working people saved 45 per cent more per month than a year earlier.

Still, 44 per cent of retirees felt their quality of life had worsened after retirement and 60 per cent felt their funds were insufficient, said Andrea Wong Shui-man, AXA Insurance's chief marketing officer for China.

Louis Cheng Tse-wan, associate professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University's school of accounting and finance, said: 'Although [Hong Kong people] have more money, future uncertainty has increased.'

He said Hongkongers had a tighter definition of sufficiency, meaning they needed more funds than those elsewhere to feel the same level of security. Professor Cheng noted that the survey was done in July and August, by which time respondents would have been aware prices were rising and inflation was set to increase. That would have made them feel less secure, he said.

Synovate, a market research company which carried out the AXA survey, interviewed 313 people aged 25 and over who are in work and 307 retired people in Hong Kong. Worldwide, 18,000 were questioned for the annual survey, the fourth AXA has commissioned. It found that the number of working people buying annuities for their retirement had shot up sevenfold in just one year, to 49 per cent.