HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

44% of Hong Kong women are unprepared for a 'comfortable' retirement

It's an acute problem of Asia in general.

It has been noted that women’s retirement pots are affected by diminishing saving power and more immediate life obligations.

According to a release from HSBC, based on its report "Future of Retirement: A balancing act," women should start planning for their retirement as soon as they have a regular income for a better financial future.

The survey, which covered 16,000 people in 15 markets worldwide, revealed that three in ten (35%) women in Asia are not preparing adequately for a comfortable retirement. The problem is acute in Taiwan and Hong Kong with those not preparing 64% and 44% respectively.

In Asia, more women than men (42% versus 36%) say their cost of living is increasing faster than their income, compared with a year ago. The numbers peak to 64% in Singapore, followed by 57% in Australia and 49% in Malaysia.

Nearly one in five (23%) of Asian women stopped or reduced the amount they put into investments following the economic downturn compared to 20% of men.

Here's more from HSBC:

Women, with an average life expectancy of 72.7 years, live 4.5 years longer than men. However, the survey found that 33% of Asian women are not saving specifically for retirement. Women’s retirement pots continue to be impacted by more immediate life events such as paying off their mortgage and other debts. A total of 35% of Asian women say they did not start early enough while 34% were not aware of how much to save.

Matthew Colebrook, Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, HSBC Singapore, said: “Female life expectancy continues to rise with enhanced lifestyles and advances in medicine. To ensure women are not left vulnerable in later life, they should start planning for their retirement as soon as they have a regular income. This way they are far more likely to achieve their financial goal and recover from losses that may occur along the way.”

Almost three-quarters (73%) of women in Asia are already concerned that they will not have enough money to live day to day upon retirement compared to 65% of men. Four in five (80%) Asian women fear cost of health care in retirement compared to 75% of men.

The survey also found that Asian women have higher confidence in cash deposits. More women than men (74% versus 72%) say cash deposits are a good way to generate income for retirement. In comparison, more Asian men than women (63% versus 60%) see investments as good ways to generate income for later life.

Colebrook added: “It is also important to make sure there is an appropriate mix of growth and income assets in their portfolio, based on one's risk profile. Our survey shows that women tend to have a strong preference for holding cash.

However, they may not realise that the purchasing power of cash is likely to be eroded by inflation over the long term. Investing the cash into either growth or income-oriented assets that are appropriately matched to the individual's risk appetite and objectives should help grow or preserve the real value of their assets over time."

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