Young people confident in their skills to thrive despite COVID-19 slump

People in emerging markets, and the young, more confident in their digital skills and willing to adapt their approach to work post-pandemic, reveals new global survey

London – A Standard Chartered survey finds that COVID-19 is significantly impacting personal finances globally, with one-third already earning less and more than half expecting the pandemic to further affect their income and/or employment. Yet young people (18-34) and those in emerging markets are the most confident in their digital skills and prepared to adapt and work harder to realise opportunities in a post-COVID-19 world.

The study of 12,000 adults (18+) across twelve markets – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, UAE, Kenya, Pakistan, the UK and the US – offers insights into their financial wellbeing and employment outlook in these challenging times, and how banks can play a role in helping them manage their money.

It reveals a stark contrast between the financial reality that people face and their confidence in the future. This can be explained by a willingness – particularly among young people and those in emerging markets – to work harder, take steps to adapt income streams, and re-skill if they can, in order to earn more.

Young people are particularly confident, with 80% of 18 to 34-year olds feeling they have the digital skills needed to thrive post-COVID-19 compared to 63% of those over 65. And, with many graduating or leaving school in the midst of a global recession, younger generations are also more willing, or able, to adapt to the current circumstances. For example, 75% of 25 to 34-year olds would consider setting up a second income stream compared to 40% of those over 55; and 72% of all 18 to 44-year olds would re-skill compared to 37% of those aged 55 and above.

Millennials and Generation Z are also more likely to respond to the crisis by starting a new business. 52% of those aged 18 to 44 would consider doing so in the next six-months compared to 30% of those 45 and above.

Globally, this level of flexibility, adaptability and entrepreneurialism tends to decrease with age, along with confidence, despite – or perhaps because – older generations are more established in their careers.

The divide is even more stark when comparing developed and emerging markets. Those in established global economies are not only less confident they have the digital skills needed to thrive amidst the downturn, they are also less willing to adapt and take steps to increase their income.

More than 88% of people in Kenya, Mainland China, India and Pakistan said they would prefer to work more to get ahead than reduce their hours for less pay. Meanwhile, the UK and the US had the highest proportion of people who valued free time over more money (38% and 33%) respectively).
In terms of personal finances, respondents in Kenya (93%), Mainland China (85%), Malaysia (83%) and India (82%) report the highest proportion of people who want to better manage their money, to make it go further.

And while the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the growth of online banking, with more than half globally using online services more, the shift has been more apparent in fast-growing markets. For example, increased use of mobile devices for banking services is most prominent in India (79%), the UAE (72%), and Kenya (69%). Fast-growth markets are also more likely to want their banks to help improve their confidence at managing money digitally as they increasingly look to bank online – Kenya (91%), India (84%) and Indonesia (84%).

There is one clear area of almost unanimous agreement; a global desire for more flexibility when it comes to working arrangements post-COVID-19. For those for whom it is applicable, 71% would prefer to continue working from home at least two-days a week once restrictions are lifted and 77% want more flexible working arrangements.

Ben Hung, CEO of Retail Banking, and Wealth Management and Regional CEO for Greater China & North Asia at Standard Chartered, said: “Young people around the world have been hit particularly hard by the economic impact of the pandemic. Many are in insecure employment or graduating into a tough job market. Yet their confidence, adaptability and willingness to work hard, especially in fast-growing markets, provides hope for the recovery.

Many are considering starting a new business in the wake of the pandemic and want to learn how to manage their finances better. They must be supported. Banks have a role to play both by helping them manage their money and providing tools that make banking easier so they can focus on leading the way to recovery.”


A ten-minute online survey of 12,000, 18+, nationally representative respondents across 12 markets – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, UAE, Kenya, Pakistan, the UK and the US – was conducted between Friday, July 3rd and Monday, July 6th 2020.

Results are weighted on the latest national census in each market by age, gender and macro- region and should be considered representative of the online population.

Futuremakers by Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered is committed to empowering young people to have the right skills to meet their full potential. Futuremakers by Standard Chartered is our global initiative to tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion in our communities. We provide young people from low-income households, particularly girls and people with visual impairments, with opportunities for skills development. Find out more at

For further information please contact:

Josephine Wong
Group Media Relations
+65 6596 4690

Standard Chartered

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