The sky’s the limit for the emerging affluent

Our survey of 11,000 of the emerging affluent across Asia, Africa and the Middle East reveals that social mobility is booming

Can someone achieve a better life for themselves than their parents enjoyed? Whether they do is a question of social mobility, a key issue in countries around the world. Here there is a contrast between East and West – while social mobility is slowing in the West, across our markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East the people we have identified as the 'emerging affluent' are enjoying upward social mobility.

Their wealth and social status have moved upwards beyond that of their parents and our latest study provides new insights into this level of social mobility as well as the ambitions the emerging affluent have in life. We surveyed 11,000 emerging affluent consumers and found that 59% are enjoying social mobility. India and China had the highest figures, where more than six in 10 (67%) are experiencing upward social mobility.

Jane Ngambona, a client living in Nairobi, is a prime example. She pursued higher education – an opportunity her parents didn’t have – and now has a stable job working as a finance officer for a private equity firm. She rents a two-bedroom house and has bought a plot of land on which to one day build a home. She saves for her retirement, but also likes to travel and visit family in Europe and America. She feels like she’s in a better position financially than her parents were when she was growing up – in her words “the sky’s the limit in terms of reaching my life goals.”

Emerging-affluent study-client says sky's the limit-Jane
Our client Jane enjoys travelling, is optimistic about her future and feels like the sky's the limit in terms of reaching her goals

Scaling the social ladder 

And there are people like Jane across the 11 markets we surveyed (China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea and the UAE).

Across education, employment and housing the emerging affluent are scaling the social ladder and fuelling their expanding economies by outstripping their parents’ success:

  • 85% went to university, compared to half of their fathers and 41% of their mothers
  • 88% of the socially mobile own their home, compared to 78% of their parents
  • 75% of the socially mobile are in management positions or running their own business, compared to 52% of their fathers and 34% of their mothers

Supercharged mobility 

We also identified a smaller group (7% of the total) who we found are enjoying supercharged social mobility, ascending further and faster than their peers with dramatic increases in income, education and career success.

Looking to the future, the emerging affluent aspire to build on their success and continue to improve their lives and those of their children. As a group they are confident about their futures and believe that smart financial choices will improve their social status – nearly seven in 10 of the emerging affluent said that managing their finances effectively holds the key to greater social mobility. And across all markets, paying for children’s education was ranked as the most important savings priority.

While the emerging affluent are hungry to improve their financial position, a missed opportunity across all markets is a lack of professional guidance – 42% said that they felt held back in their aspirations by their lack of financial knowledge.

An important thing we found in our study was the importance of digital which makes financial products more visible and accessible, allowing users to make more informed decisions quickly and easily: 65% of the emerging affluent said familiarity with digital tools has been vital to their personal success.

We believe the economic power of the emerging affluent represents a significant driver of economic prosperity in some of the world’s most dynamic countries. Their ambition and dynamism are helping to create jobs and wealth across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Read the full report for more. 

Let us help you reach your life goals

We’re helping clients like Jane  through our Premium Banking offering, which has been launched in eight markets, most recently Kenya, and is designed to help consumers like Jane reach their ambitions. Visit your local site for more information

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