Frugal Hong Kong women rank 2nd in world as savers

Females here are just behind their Singapore counterparts when stashing cash every month, a survey of 15 markets on savings habits shows

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 March, 2013, 7:05am

Hong Kong's women are the second-best female savers on earth, salting away more money than women anywhere else except Singapore, according to a global HSBC study on how well people save for their retirement.

The frugal women of Hong Kong save US$521 a month on average, compared with US$336 for Asia and US$243 globally. Singaporean women top the list at US$536 a month.

Hong Kong women are slightly more disciplined savers than the city's men. Sixty-one per cent of women here save every month, versus 59 per cent of men.

Hong Kong women, however, save less than men in dollar terms - at US$521 a month for women and US$565 for the men. But men in Hong Kong earn HK$3,500 more than women per month, on average, according to government figures for 2006. The HSBC study did not take into account the gender gap in income.

The HSBC study surveyed more than 15,000 people in 15 markets worldwide, in August last year, including Britain, Germany, Russia, Japan, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan.

"Globally, men seem to be better savers than women" both in terms of their regularity and amounts saved, said Diana Cesar, head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC's Hong Kong office.

Globally, men seem to be better savers than women" both in terms of their regularity and amounts saved

Women globally usually save for short-term goals - such as taking a holiday - instead of for retirement, the survey found.

Around the world, 46 per cent of women save regularly compared to 50 per cent of men. In terms of the money being saved regularly, women save 35 per cent less than men per month.

The money women save lasts only 10 years after their retirement, on average, the study found.

Yet women usually live 23.3 years after retirement, compared to 18.5 years for men. Hence women often experience financial hardship after retirement.

Cesar said: "We noticed that over half of Hong Kong women in their 40s and 50s are concerned about their ability to cope financially in retirement. This suggested that although Hong Kong women may have made some preparations for later years, they are not confident this is sufficient and thus tend to save more."

Hong Kong women who seek help from a professional financial adviser would have about 140 per cent more retirement savings than those who did not, she said.

In Asia as a whole, men set aside US$380 every month for retirement compared with US$336 for women.

Mainland women save US$219 a month, which is almost equal to men at US$226 - the narrowest gap in Asia. The biggest gap in the region is in Australia, where women save US$255 to the men's US$433.

"As women expect to live longer in retirement, they are facing a bigger retirement savings void and thus a bigger challenge," Cesar said. "It is important for them to start planning early."