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Britons confident in their skills to thrive despite COVID-19 slump

on 13 Aug 2020

71% believe they have the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly digital world, but Britons want to work more flexibly, spend less time in an office, new global study finds

London, 13 August 2020 – A Standard Chartered survey finds that COVID-19 is significantly impacting personal finances globally, with one-third (27% in the UK) already earning less and more than half expecting the pandemic to further affect their income and/or employment. Yet young people (18-34) globally and those in emerging markets are the most confident in their skills and prepared to work harder to realise opportunities in a post-COVID-19 world.

The study of 12,000 adults across twelve markets – Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, UAE, Kenya, Pakistan, the UK and the USA – 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 reskill if they can, in order to earn more.

Young people are particularly confident, with 80% of 18 to 34-year olds (77% in the UK) feeling they have the digital skills needed to thrive post-COVID-19 compared to 63% of those over 65 (65% in the UK). And, with many graduating or leaving school in the midst of a global recession, younger generations are more willing, or able, to adapt to the current circumstances. For example, 75% of 25 to 34-year-olds globally (49% in the UK) would set up a second income stream compared to 40% of those over 55 (18% in the UK); and 72% of all 18 to 44-year-olds (50% in the UK) would reskill compared to 37% of those aged 55 and over (13% in the UK).

Britain was one of the least entrepreneurial markets surveyed, with 26% considering responding to the crisis by starting a new business compared to 46% globally. However, like their global counterparts, British Millennials and Generation Z are much more likely to start a new business with 37% of 18 to 44-year olds considering doing so over the next six months compared to just 10% of those aged 45 and above.

Around the world, the 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 developing 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.

Over 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 money (38% and 33% respectively).

When it comes to managing their money – while the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the growth of online banking – with over half globally using online services more, the shift has also 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%), compared to 46% in the UK. 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%), compared to 53% in the UK.

There is one clear area of almost unanimous agreement; a global desire for more flexibility when it comes to working arrangements post-COVID-19. Globally, where applicable, 71% (66% in the UK) would prefer to continue working from home for at least two days a week once restrictions are lifted and 77% (78% in the UK) want more flexible working arrangements.

Britons are the most (78%) interested of any country surveyed in spending less time in the office post-COVID-19 (compared to a global average of 70%). This preference was highest in the over 55’s (86%), and lowest in those 18 to 34 (73%).

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 but 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.” 


Notes for editors:


A ten-minute online survey of 12,000, aged 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.

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For further information please contact:

Simon Kutner
Regional Head of Communications, Europe (Interim)
+44 (0)7880 296 947

Claire Newell
Senior Communications Manager, Europe
+44 (0)7880 267 668