Asia’s emerging affluent: missing out on a potential 42% uplift in savings

Emerging affluent consumers in Asia could boost their savings by an average of 42 per cent if they move from a basic savings approach to a low-risk wealth management strategy, a new Standard Chartered study shows. 

The emerging affluent are consumers who are earning enough to start saving – and investing – and that’s what makes them a crucial engine of economic growth.

The Emerging Affluent Report – The Race to Save reveals how this rising consumer class are losing out on savings as a result of an overly simplistic approach to their personal finances; in some cases, cash is sitting under mattresses instead of in bank accounts.

While the emerging affluent are ‘active’ savers, with two in three (67 per cent) putting money aside every month, a majority are using basic products – savings accounts and fixed-term deposits – to reach their financial goals.

A switch to a more effective approach could make a huge difference. Consumers in Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Taiwan could increase their savings by as much as 86 per cent, 52 per cent, 48 per cent and 43 per cent respectively over 10 years.
Growth in 10-year returns by switching from a basic savings approach to a low-risk wealth management investment approach

AverageHong KongSingaporeIndiaTaiwanKoreaChina

The emerging affluent in Pakistan could be even further away from reaching their savings targets, with 50 per cent of them storing cash at home to reach their top savings goal, receiving no interest or investment returns at all.

The study of 8,000 emerging affluent consumers across eight markets in Asia and Africa  also finds that home ownership and children’s education are top savings priorities for most individuals – ahead of retirement. Saving for life after work only comes out on top for the 45-55 year olds, except in India, Kenya and Pakistan, where children’s education is the priority for almost all age groups (see appendix).

Karen Fawcett, CEO of Retail Banking, Standard Chartered, said: “These ambitious consumers have pressing reasons to save: longer life spans and the rising cost of education, health care and home ownership. With access to the right information and simple, low-risk wealth management solutions, they will have a better chance of achieving their goals of owning a home, funding their children’s education and putting enough aside for their retirement.”

Other findings from the study, now in its third year, include:

Saving regularly but less confident
The emerging affluent are saving regularly but their confidence seems to be slipping.
At the end of 2016, fewer emerging affluent consumers in China, Kenya, Hong Kong, India and Singapore were confident in reaching their savings goals (72 per cent), compared to 2015 (83 per cent). 

The digitally-savvy save more
Digital banking tools have a good following among the emerging affluent, with more than half (54 per cent) saying they use them at least sometimes and almost a quarter (23 per cent) using them frequently. The latter save, on average, 8 per cent more of their income than those who use digital tools less often or not at all.

China’s emerging affluent: the most entrepreneurial and digitally-savvy 
When it comes to digital uptake, China stands out. Chinese emerging affluent are the most likely to use digital tools and services frequently (47 per cent) and get expert money advice on social media (37 per cent). They are also the most entrepreneurially-minded. A quarter (25 per cent) cite funding a business as a top three priority, rising to one-third (32 per cent) among millennials (aged 25 to 34). 

Low interest rates deter savers
While the vast majority of the emerging affluent (96 per cent) do save, many say that low interest rates discourage them from saving more than they currently do. Almost a third (30 per cent) of people in the markets surveyed say low interest rates stop them from saving more. This sentiment is felt strongest in China (39 per cent), Korea (38 per cent), Taiwan (38 per cent) and India (32 per cent).

AverageChinaKoreaTaiwanIndiaKenyaSingaporeHong KongPakistan

View the report here for more.

For further information please contact:

Simon Kutner
Executive Director, Group Media Relations
Standard Chartered
+44 207 885 8696  

Stephanie Batot 
Director, Business Communications (Retail Banking)
Standard Chartered
+65 65960166


Top savings priority by country and age breakdown


AverageHomeChildren's educationRetirement
IndiaChildren's educationChildren's educationChildren's education
Hong KongHomeHomeRetirement
SingaporeHomeChildren's educationRetirement
ChinaBusinessChildren's educationRetirement
PakistanChildren's educationChildren's educationChildren's education
KenyaHomeChildren's educationChildren's education


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