Understand Financial Wellness
Improving their financial wellness may help Hongkongers secure a happy life
Are you feeling financially insecure?
77% of Hong Kong workers revealed their happiness depends on financial security, highest amongst the six markets assessed by the Fidelity Global Financial Wellness Survey, and 21% of Hong Kong respondents felt ‘very’ or ‘extremely stressed’ about their financial situation.
Achieving financial wellness can help Hongkongers feel more financially secure. Hong Kong’s median Financial Wellness score is 65 out of 100, sitting at the lower range of the ‘Good’ category. It indicates that there is room for Hongkongers to improve financial wellness.
What is Fidelity Financial Wellness?
We believe financial wellness is holistic and multi-layered with objective and subjective inputs across four key domains: Budgeting, Debt, Savings and Protection.
Spending within one’s means is the foundation upon which financial wellness is built. Maintaining a budget and a positive cash flow are both necessary precursors to managing debt, saving for the future, investing, and protecting against risk.
To achieve financial wellness beyond the here-and-now, individuals must take control of their debt, save, and invest for the future. This includes long-term savings and investing (e.g., for retirement) but also saving for short-term expenses such as home repairs or holidays.
High levels of debt, and monthly debt repayment obligations, relative to income can present a considerable barrier to savings. Prudent use of credit may be a good way to build a positive credit profile and thereby improve access to credit and potentially lower future borrowing rates.
Financial wellness also requires insuring against potential financial losses. Without adequate emergency savings and/or financial protection against catastrophic health events, disability, or property loss, one’s financial situation can very quickly move from comfortable to distressed.
The Global Financial Wellness Survey
The Fidelity Global Financial Wellness Survey was conducted in Hong Kong and five other markets in 2020. By assessing people’s financial situation across four domains: Budgeting, Debt, Savings and Protection, the Financial Wellness Score is assigned to each market, ranging from 0 to 100; the higher the score, the more financially well a household is considered to be.
The median score for Hong Kong is 65 (Good). Most respondents are in the ‘Good’ or ‘Fair’ categories. Only 3% are in the ‘Excellent’ category.
Hong Kong financial wellness domain scores
In general, Hong Kong performs ‘Good’ across the four domains. The debt domain score is at the top of the ‘Good’ range, indicating that Hongkongers are relatively good at managing their debts. However, the other three domains are at the low end of the ‘Good’ range which means there are significant opportunities for improvement in budgeting, savings and protection.
Budgeting - scored 16 (‘Good’)
57% of respondents expressed that they spend as much as or more than they make. The median budget-to-income ratio of older workers is 41%, showing they are relatively better at budgeting.
It is good to keep track of your daily spending to reduce the unnecessary expenses and save more. Do not underestimate the compounding power of small amounts. Saving just 1% more on regular basis may make all the difference.
Debt - scored 19 (‘Good’), the best-performing
The majority of respondents (93%) fell into the ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ categories. 70% of respondents expressed they had debts and older workers are better at controlling debts as their median reported debt-to-income ratio is low at 4%.
Most older workers hold two credit cards, lower than Hong Kong’s average of three. While credit card use is prevalent in Hong Kong, usage behaviour is quite good. Nearly 80% of respondents report that they always repay their credit card in full amount. It is worth reminding that high levels of debt may reduce financial flexibility and savings, and ultimately affect one’s credit profile.
Savings - scored 15 (‘Good’)
Around one-third of respondents report they are ‘slightly on track’ or even ‘not at all on track’ with their financial and retirement goals.
By assessing objective measures in the Savings domain including on-track assessment of financial and retirement goals, and evaluation of retirement readiness, the survey reveals that 63% of respondents have low objective scores. And half of them are ‘overconfident’ which means they are more confident of their savings behaviours and actions than the scores suggest. For support and education regarding retirement readiness, the Fidelity Retirement Savings Guidelines can help get retirement savings on track.
Protection - scored 15 (‘Good’)
Younger workers need to work harder in this domain.
62% of younger workers expect their financial condition to be better in the next 10 years. With this optimistic attitude, younger people may tend to think about their financial needs in the short-term; 67% of them think about their financial needs no farther than the next five years. Also, only 35% of younger workers have an emergency-fund of more than six months, significantly lower than middle-aged (46%) and older workers (66%).
About Fidelity’s Financial Wellness Survey
The survey population consisted of respondents with the following qualifying conditions: individuals aged 20-75 years old; working full-time or part-time or have spouse working full-time or part-time; expecting to retire someday; the main financial decision maker or equal joint main financial decision maker in the household; a minimum household income of: United Kingdom: £10,000 annually; Germany: €20,000 annually; China: RMB 5,000 monthly; Hong Kong: HK$15,000 monthly; Japan: ¥3,000,000 annually; Canada: CA$30,000 annually.
The research and analysis were completed for the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada. Data collection was completed in partnership with Ipsos, a global market and opinion research specialist, who collected and collated data for each region between March 2020 and May 2020.
About Fidelity’s Financial Wellness Score calculation
Fidelity Financial Wellness Score which uses a consistent analytical framework across the regions while using modelling assumptions that are appropriate for each region. The Score is based on both objective and subjective components for the four domains of financial wellness - Budgeting, Debt, Savings and Protection.
The comprehensive framework and algorithmic approach to evaluating financial wellness was first developed in the United States, where it was informed by a large-scale survey of American households and refined over time based on the responses of thousands of users who have completed the online financial wellness scoring experience over several years. All regional scoring frameworks apply locally relevant assumptions and have been informed by regional financial wellness survey data.
The Financial Wellness Score, and its four component domain scores, are calculated based on certain assumptions and are for reference only. This information is intended to be educational and is not tailored to the investment or financial planning needs of any specific investor. This information does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision nor should it be treated as a recommendation for any investment or action.