12 of 16 countries record lower scores in MasterCard’s latest Financial Literacy Index
Ahead of #WEFEastAsia #MasterCard’s Financial Literacy Index reveals progress has stalled across #AsiaPacific http://news.mstr.cd/1FE4vEy
Singapore, 14 April 2015 – Ahead of the World Economic Forum on East Asia (19-21 April, Jakarta) MasterCard has revealed that progress towards improving basic finance knowledge and skills across Asia/Pacific has stalled as 12 of 16 countries record lower scores in the latest Financial Literacy Index.
- Taiwan regains top spot followed by New Zealand (which drops from 1st place) and Hong Kong; Kiwis and Taiwanese over 30 years old the most financially literate in the region.
- Singapore goes from 2nd to 6th place, with the biggest drop in score regionally.
- While developed markets tend to rank higher than emerging, Japan remains the outlier staying in the bottom spot for the 3rd consecutive year.
- Among the emerging markets, India advances the most, gaining 3 points to 62, placing it at 12th place in the region, and nearly at par with South Korea (62 points, rank 13 regionally).
- China is top overall in ‘Investment Know-How’ but among the worst in ‘Basic Money Management.’
- Asia/Pacific is a region of savers with the majority of people knowing how to ‘Budget’ and ‘Save Regularly.’ However, knowledge of ‘Retirement funds needed’ is low in both developed countries and emerging markets.
- Knowledge of the risks associated with investment is poor across the region with the concepts of ‘Inflation’ and ‘Diversifying assets’ particularly badly understood, especially in emerging markets.
- The financial literacy gender gap is higher in developed markets (excluding Taiwan) than emerging markets. The gender parity gap in South Korea is the widest, followed by Hong Kong and Australia.
- In terms of age, people under 30 are less financially literate than those over 30 in all markets. With regards to employment status, with the exception of India and Bangladesh, people who are “Working” have superior financial literacy skills than those “Not Working.”
- Aside from Taiwan and India, Vietnam and Indonesia are the only markets to improve their score in 2014 than 2013.
Index data on final page.
T.V. Seshadri, Group Executive, Global Products and Solutions, Asia Pacific said: “There is no one reason for the falling level of financial literacy across the region but the data clearly shows that the young and unemployed need additional support. Educating people so they can plan for the future is a crucial aspect of financial inclusion. In both developed and emerging markets, people are struggling to understand basic financial concepts such as inflation. In addition, while Asia Pacific is a region of savers, the lack of retirement planning should cause particular concern. It is not enough to provide access to financial services, we must ensure that everyone knows how to save, budget and invest so that their wellbeing can be secured over the long term.”
Issue specific insights
- Taiwanese Financial Planning Savviness Shines – Results from recent research conducted by Manulife suggest that 7 out of 10 Taiwanese investors are not confident that their mandatory pensions will be sufficient to cover their retirement expenses. This lack of confidence and know-how may be prompting the Taiwanese to be active and prudent savers (score for both “Save Regularly” and “Emergency Savings” is very high at 95). In fact, data from Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Taiwan (DGBAS) show personal savings in Taiwan to have increased by 9.96% (1424600 TWD Million to 1582300 TWD Million) from 2011 to 2012 .
- Myanmar: Prudent Savings, Growth of Insurance Sector Earmarked to Accelerate – Myanmar continues to score consistently higher than most of its regional peers in the savings and insurance-related categories of Financial Planning with a score of 81, placing it in the top 3. This could be due to the lack of social security benefits in the country, which has in turn inculcated a practice of prudent savings for costly essentials like healthcare, education and emergencies. The results also show Myanmarese to have high regards for insurance. This trend is likely to remain strong, in view of the recent ending of the government-owned company Myanmar Insurance’s 60-year monopoly of the country’s private insurance industry. This milestone reform will not only allow private and foreign insurance companies to enter the market, but will be beneficial to Myanmarese consumers through heightened awareness of both life and general insurance concepts and products.
- Japan’s lack of progress in Basic Money Management – Japan’s score has been steadily declining since the survey was first launched and the latest results indicate further deterioration in money management skills. This is likely attributed to the country’s aging population and stagnant income growth. Currently the world’s oldest country, Japan’s aging population are now the biggest spenders of their savings and retirement funds. OECD figures show that compared to its G7 peers, Japan’s household savings rate is 0.6% of disposable household income, a stark contrast to other countries such as Australia (9.3%) and South Korea (5.3%).
- Explaining the gender gap – Across the 16 regional markets, the gender disparity gap is most pronounced in the six developed markets (excluding Taiwan). In contrast, the difference in financial literacy scores is only slight in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. The gender gap in developed markets could be due to the diminished amount of time afforded to day-to-day budgeting and tracking of expenditure with increased work responsibilities. The reason why women in emerging markets have more similar scores to men may be because financial systems are at infancy stage so women and men are more likely to be equally aware and informed. It may also be because income level is lower on average, making it necessary to be even more conscious of money and track expenditure on a regular basis.
Conducted for the 4th time between July and August 2014 on 8,087 respondents aged 18-64 in 16 countries in Asia/Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar) the Index comprises questions covering three components: Basic Money Management (50% weight) which examines respondents’ skills with regards to budgeting, savings, and responsibility of credit usage; Financial Planning (30% weight) which assesses knowledge about financial products, services, and concepts, and ability to plan for long-term financial needs; and Investment (20% weight) which determines respondents’ basic understanding of the various risks associated with investment, different investment products and skills required. A Financial Literacy Index Score for each market is calculated out of the weighted sum of the 3 components.
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Country ranking and score
Score breakdown by component
|Overall FinLit Score||65||73||71||70||69||69||68||67||66|
|Basic Money Management (Overall)||63||69||73||71||73||66||67||63||66|
|Keeping up with bills||62||65||74||72||73||61||68||66||64|
|Saving for big purchases||53||57||57||72||62||52||59||47||49|
|Financial Planning (Overall)||75||84||73||72||68||20||77||79||73|
|FP is not only for the rich||74||87||81||63||74||80||75||75||83|
|Starting early with FP||78||96||86||60||82||84||87||63||54|
|Insurance is important||76||89||63||82||54||82||79||86||77|
|Retirement funds needed||46||41||30||53||30||47||40||77||35|
|Financial statements understanding||68||63||77||84||75||75||64||74||58|
|Financial products suitability||74||83||80||75||73||83||70||84||89|
|Concept of diversification||40||40||47||36||48||39||47||41||22|
|Concept of inflation||43||65||51||53||50||41||48||29||28|
|Overall FinLit Score||66||65||65||62||62||61||60||55|
|Basic Money Management (Overall)||57||58||59||56||57||59||54||55|
|Keeping up with bills||36||55||64||45||73||63||55||65|
|Saving for big purchases||50||46||60||39||34||60||43||59|
|Financial Planning (Overall)||81||76||81||74||78||70||69||64|
|FP is not only for the rich||80||71||87||62||72||71||65||55|
|Starting early with FP||85||88||89||58||90||90||55||75|
|Insurance is important||82||80||74||82||85||62||76||66|
|Retirement funds needed||44||43||53||74||39||42||51||31|
|Financial statements understanding||77||61||91||51||79||66||26|
|Financial products suitability||86||76||71||65||73||50||45|
|Concept of diversification||41||28||28||39||39||55||49|
|Concept of inflation||55||36||23||32||36||46||47|
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