Survey: One-third of Asians contribute to retirement fund

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One-third of people surveyed in Asia reported they make regular contributions to a retirement fund in an effort to improve their financial health, according to recent research by insurance firm Prudential.

A Prudential survey of more than 5,000 respondents across 13 markets in the region found more than half feel satisfied with their personal finances and feel they are able to save sufficient funds to support themselves during their retirement.

However, the survey revealed the level of confidence is considerably greater among higher-income respondents (73%) than those with a below-median income (51%).

Despite overall satisfaction among the majority of respondents, economists question people’s ability to plan adequately for their retirement and the ability of pension systems to support them. The projected replacement rates for provident fund participants entering the workforce in some countries are still low, such as 26% in Malaysia and 31% in Indonesia.

Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute, said the traditional family support backstop is eroding and the benefits provided by government retirement systems are insufficient to compensate for this trend.

“State retirement provision in most of Asia is vastly inadequate. Provident funds were set up as multi-purpose savings systems that often substitute for unemployment insurance or provide housing finance,” said Mr Jackson.

“Retirement savings was largely an afterthought. Governments didn’t have to worry about helping people finance retirement because they assumed families would take care of that.”

The survey found people are looking to diversify their sources of income, with 35% augmenting their savings and retirement funds by investing in equities and bonds. Some 31% are taking a riskier route by investing in alternative digital assets such as non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies.

In addition, family and health has overtaken professional success as the most important priority post-pandemic for people in the region. Maintaining emotional and mental health rose to No.2 among respondents, up from near the bottom five years ago.

“It is clear what matters to Asians has changed in the past few years. The pandemic made people think about their priorities in life,” said Lilian Ng, managing director of Prudential’s Strategic Business Group. “As a business focused on helping our customers and communities get the most out of life through making healthcare affordable and accessible and by promoting financial inclusion, understanding what influences people’s well-being will enable us to better support them in leading more fulfilling lives.”