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Chinese women buck the trend in financial planning

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Chinese women are taking the lead in planning for the family’s finances, according to HSBC’s latest report: The Future of Retirement: Why family matters. Sixty-three per cent of Chinese women, compared to 58% of men, say they make all or most of the financial decisions in the household, the highest among their Asian peers.

This reverses the traditional gender gap which still prevails across Asia where 58% of women and 68% of men make the call in the family’s financial decisions.

Conducted across over 17,000 people in 17 countries, with more than 7,300 from Asia, HSBC’s survey explores changing attitudes towards retirement and financial planning.

In terms of retirement planning Chinese men and women are taking an equal role with 54% of Chinese men saying they are most likely to share responsibility with their spouse or partner, as compared to 55% of women. Chinese women are more likely to take sole responsibility for managing the household budget than men (38% to 35%).

Terry Lo (pictured), Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Life China, says: “Our survey points to greater equality in financial decision making in Chinese families, with Chinese women taking more important roles in decision making around family finances. This is a result of rising levels of education and income earning power alongside accelerating urbanisation in the country.

“This trend is a positive step as both men and women take more responsibility for their financial future. It is important, however, that financial planning decisions that affect the household, in particular retirement and protection needs should be shared and discussed between partners to ensure that both are better prepared for any life goals and their family’s financial needs.”

The survey also points to a lack of confidence as experts in financial planning which may be impacting attitudes to risk. Whilst the majority of Chinese women (96%) say they have a basic to moderate level of experience in financial planning, only 1% can claim expert financial savvy (vs 5% of Chinese men, 4% of Asian women and 7% of women globally).

Nearly half of Chinese women (48%) say they take a conservative approach to risk. While this proportion is higher than that of Chinese men (38%), Chinese women appear to be more open to risk compared to their Asian peers, over half of whom (59%) say they are risk averse. Male investors in China are also less risk averse (38%) than their male counterparts in the region (48%).

Despite the majority of Chinese (76%) having financial plans in place compared to an average of 66% across Asia, various protection gaps still exist. Over 37% of the respondents in their 30’s do not have any short-term savings. A third (38%) of Chinese parents do not have life insurance while another third (35%) of those aged 50-59 are not saving for retirement.

Lo says: “As the world’s strongest savers start to diversify from cash to other asset holdings, Chinese families are poised to explore ways to grow and manage finances and increase their level of financial sophistication. The challenge for Chinese families is to be able to manage a household income and build financial assets for the long term, while protecting against financial risks throughout life. Finding the balance between protecting wealth and investments in the short- and medium-term and generating an adequate retirement income in the long-term will be critical.

“Like many Asians, the Chinese tend to apply a do-it-yourself approach combined with advice from family, friends and occasionally, a professional financial advisor. HSBC works closely with our customers to understand their needs and provide integrated solutions that harness our strengths in insurance, wealth and asset management to help customers protect and grow their wealth for every stage and ambition of their life.”

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