IFEC Survey Reveals More Than Half of Hong Kong Adults Have Financial Regrets

19 February 2019

  • When asked about their financial regrets for 2018, the surveyed Hong Kong adults cited overspending (38%), failing to make any investments (14%), and not following a budget (14%) as the top three most common regrets.
  • Whilst 53% of respondents had set themselves financial goals, over half (56%) admitted they experienced delays in achieving the goals.
  • About half (51%) of the respondents felt financially stressed; taking care of basic living expenses, providing financial support to parents and paying rent were the most common causes of stress. For the post-90s, credit card debt was a significant factor.

A survey conducted by the Investor and Financial Education Council (IFEC) found that over half of Hong Kong adults have financial regrets. The IFEC surveyed 688 Hong Kong adults aged 18 to 69 years old via face-to-face interviews in December last year.

According to the findings, 59% of the respondents said they struggle with financial regrets from the past year, mainly spending too much and failing to make investment decisions.

More than half (56%) of the respondents said they could not achieve, or have had to postpone their goals, which included property purchase, travelling and retirement, because of inadequate financial preparation. Being paid too little (55%) and overspending (40%) were the two most common reasons cited for the delay in achieving their goals.

Lack of financial goals and long-term planning

About 47% of respondents did not set any financial goals. Those who had set financial goals were mostly focused on one time horizon. The post-80s had set more comprehensive financial goals across the short, mid and long-term. The post-90s mostly set themselves short-term goals.

Less than half (41%) were confident of achieving their long-term goals, while more people were confident about reaching their short (77%) and mid-term (57%) goals.

Saving for travel topped the most popular short (77%) and mid-term (40%) goal while popular mid and long-term financial goals were related to wealth accumulation. Saving enough for retirement was the top long-term goal (69%), and came in second (35%) for mid-term goal setting. The second most popular long-term goal was preparing for property down payment (30%), while building up savings ranked third for both long-term (22%) and mid-term (32%) goal setting.

"Long-term goals are naturally more daunting as it requires good planning and commitment to follow through. Reframing your goals into smaller ones within shorter periods of time can help give a sense of accomplishment and motivation when you achieve them. Also, developing good habits such as not wasting money, automating one’s monthly savings, paying off debt quickly and regularly reviewing one’s financial health are actions that we can all take to bring us closer to our goals," said Mr David Kneebone, General Manager of the IFEC.

When asked what actions they would take to achieve their financial goals, respondents said they would be spending less (75%), making investments (38%) and taking on extra work (28%). About a quarter said they would consider budgeting (24%), but less than 4% would consider seeking professional advice.

Of the 47% of respondents who said that they did not set any financial goals, 45% did not consider it necessary because they preferred to go along with what came their way, while about one-third (31%) felt that their financial conditions limited them from achieving any goals.

Financial struggles across different generations

In terms of demographics, the post-90s were the least satisfied with their financial condition and tended to struggle with overspending. Compared with the other generations, they found it hardest to accumulate wealth - only 66% said they could manage to save, while the rest said they could barely make ends meet and often had to dip into their savings before payday. Some 61% of the overall respondents said they were satisfied with their financial status with the number dropping to 55% among the post-90s.

Credit card debts were also a major concern for the post-90s (27%), while children's education expenses were the major source of financial stress for the post-70s (43%) and post-80s (21%). For those born in the post-60s, their major financial concern was medical expenses (24%).

"In every life stage, we are almost always affected by money in some way or another, and therefore it's important to equip ourselves with the skills to navigate and overcome our financial challenges and take the necessary actions to overcome the situation," said Mr Kneebone.

Money Month offers practical information and tools

Themed "Plan For Your Future: Act Now!", Hong Kong Money Month 2019, a territory-wide financial education campaign, will take place in March. To date, over 90 events and initiatives from more than 40 organisations will be offered in conjunction with Money Month.

IFEC Chairman Mr Lester Huang said, "We are committed to enhancing financial literacy in Hong Kong and assisting people to develop practical knowledge to improve their financial well-being."

"We encourage everyone to join in the events and make full use of the available resources to act on their financial goals."

For details and resources available, please visit Hong Kong Money Month website www.moneymonth.hk.