Overview

Over the past year, we have seen the pandemic alter almost every aspect of life. People’s day-to-day routines are now barely recognisable compared to the pre-COVID world. Borders have closed and bustling high streets have emptied as the world has moved online. But how have these changes affected people’s investment behaviour? Investors have faced significant market turbulence, making the assessment of risk and reward even more challenging. Against this backdrop, the Schroders Global Investor Study 2021 explores the behaviours and attitudes of more than 23,000 people who invest from around the world.

Overall, the results show that people are still expecting healthy levels of income and returns from their investments in spite of the global market disruption. In the immediate term, people’s investment behaviours have appeared to shift and their attitudes and expectations have also been affected. Additionally, the pandemic seems to have a long-lasting effect, with many investors looking to save more for retirement and prioritise saving over spending.

About this study

In March 2021, Schroders commissioned an independent online survey of over 23,000 people who invest from 32 locations around the globe. This spanned countries across Europe, Asia, the Americas and more. This research defines people as those who will be investing at least €10,000 (or the equivalent) in the next 12 months and who have made changes to their investments within the last 10 years. Due to this threshold, Schroders acknowledges that this group and therefore the research findings are not representative of everyone’s experience of the pandemic.

Note: Figures in this document may not add up to 100 per cent due to rounding and multi-select options.

Global findings in a nutshell

Investors predict even higher returns from their investments than previous years

On average, people expect the annual return from investment over the next five years to be 11.3%

Almost three quarters of people believe their financial wellbeing has become more front of mind due to the pandemic

74% of people agree that ‘Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I have spent more time thinking about my financial wellbeing and trying to reorganise my personal finances’

The majority of people have been able to save either as much as they planned to or more

In spite of the turbulent year, 79% of people have been able to either meet their savings goals or exceed them

Saving will be a lasting legacy of the pandemic

While 29% of people say there will be no change in their saving behaviour once lockdowns lift, almost half (46%) say they will save more, while 24% say they intend to save less

The post-pandemic spending priority

When lockdowns lift, investing in or purchasing property is the front runner, with 43% of people opting to put money towards this. Next in line is luxury purchases with 35% of people looking forward to spending more money on holidays, vehicles and special occasions

Extra caution among retired people due to COVID-19

58% of retired people are more cautious with spending their retirement savings due to the pandemic. 30% are just as cautious as before, while 12% are now less cautious as a result of it.

Investment optimism?

Last year, the Schroders Global Investor Study asked whether people expected their investments to deliver lower returns in the next five years compared to the previous five years.

The response for the majority was ‘yes’, with 67% of people agreeing that a bout of lower returns was likely imminent, notwithstanding the pandemic.

This contradicts this year’s findings. These show that investors not only predict high returns from their investments over the next five years but their expected return is also higher than in previous years. On average, people expect the annual return from investment over the next five years to be 11.3%. This is an uplift of 1.1 percentage points from 2017 and a marginal but notable increase of 0.4 percentage points from last year. The findings indicate an even larger increase in return expectations from Australian investors with an expectation of 10.56%, up from 8.94% in 2020.

This optimism is shared among different types of investors but not to the same extent. Respondents who rated their investment knowledge as expert or advanced expect on average higher returns (12.8% Global and Australia) than their beginner / rudimentary counterparts (8.9% Global, 8.2% Australia). This shows that while on the whole the future of returns looks rosy for some, a difference in investment knowledge can affect how positively people regard the performance of their portfolios, particularly during times of uncertainty.

People’s average annual total investment return expectations over the next five years

People’s average annual total investment return expectations over the next five years, by investment knowledge group*

When looking at investment return expectations for the next five years at a regional level, we can see that Europe has substantially lower return expectations (9.7%) than other regions. The Americas is the most optimistic region, with an annual total return expectation of 12.5% for the next five years. On closer inspection, this is driven by South America with average return expectations of 13.3% while North America is less optimistic with10.6% . Asia and Australia are almost as optimistic as the Americas in total.

People’s average annual total investment return expectations over the next five years, by region

Annual total returns believed to be received1 from investment portfolios over the past five years, by region

While these return expectations may look overly optimistic, it seems they are in line with what people say they have received in previous years. The region that is most out of step with their return expectations versus the returns they’ve received is Asia, where investors anticipate the next five years will deliver 1 percentage point annually more than the returns of the last five years.

People’s average annual total investment return expectations over the next five years, by age bracket

So, as far as the five-year investment view is concerned, it seems for the most part people are confident their investments will continue to deliver for them in the same vein as previous years. This differing belief in returns is also reflected across age groups, though younger investors are more likely to anticipate higher returns in the next five years, than older investors. However, in Australia investors aged 38-50 and 71+ expect higher returns than the remaining age brackets.

Income expectations

But what about the more immediate twelve-month picture? The findings show that while people think investment returns in the next five years will increase, the same can’t be said for their income expectations in the next twelve months.

People were notably more optimistic in 2019 about the income they expected and aspired to receive from their investments for the year ahead than in 2020. With the onset of the pandemic, people readjusted their expectations from their investments over the next 12 months from 10.7% to 8.8% (10.9% to 7.1% in Australia). This was also reflected in the minimum level of income they would like to receive which fell from 10.7% to 9% (11.5% to 7.8% in Australia) in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, with the continuation of the pandemic into 2021, levels of income expectations from investments have plateaued at optimistic levels, rather than returning back to pre-pandemic levels. While a small difference, it’s important to note that people’s expectations for their investment income are becoming increasingly aligned with their aspirations. In 2019, the expectation-versus-aspiration-gap was 0.4 percentage points and today it is just 0.01 percentage points.

Average income from investments people would like to receive vs. what they expect to receive over the next 12 months

Similar to the five year view, expert investors were more optimistic than the beginner group for the next 12 months. Beginner/ rudimentary investors expected to receive 3.3 percentage points (3.58 percentage points in Australia) less income from investments over the next year than their expert/advanced counterparts.

Globally we can also observe a decrease in – although still high levels for – investment income expectation across age groups. 18-37 year olds expect 9.8% income from their investments over the next 12 months, while 51-70 year olds expect 1.7 percentage points less (8.1%). Interestingly, this is inconsistent with findings from Australia with 38-50 year olds reporting their income expectations over the next 12 months were 9.71%, followed by 71+ which were 8.5%.

While this difference doesn’t seem major, it does indicate that levels of confidence about the performance of investments as we come out of the pandemic will differ according to people’s life stage.

The level of income people expect to receive over the next 12 months, by investment knowledge group*

The level of income people expect to receive over the next 12 months, by age bracket

Financial focus

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, financial wellbeing has become more front of mind for almost three quarters of people (74% globally and 67% in Australia).

While the pandemic has caused many to hit the reset button on their finances, this has happened to varying degrees.

‘Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I have spent more time thinking about my financial wellbeing and trying to reorganise my personal finances’ Agree - disagree

People that have spent more time thinking about their financial wellbeing since the onset of the pandemic, by investment knowledge group*

For example, those with a lower level of investment knowledge were less likely to agree that the pandemic has caused them to spend more time thinking about their finances. Globally, only 66% of those who identify as ‘beginner’ or ‘rudimentary’ investors agreed (56% in Australia), compared to 72% of intermediate investors (63% in Australia) and 79% of expert/ advanced investors (also 78% in Australia).

This shows that against a backdrop of market uncertainty, those with greater investment knowledge were more likely to recognise the onset of the pandemic as a good moment to reassess their financial plans, perhaps to best position themselves to weather the storm ahead.

Those with greater investment knowledge were more likely to recognise the onset of the pandemic as a good moment to reassess their financial plans

Investors of different ages have also responded differently since the onset of the pandemic. For instance, globally we can see that in the 18-37 age bracket, 77% (72% in Australia) of people agreed that COVID-19 has caused them to spend more time thinking about their financial wellbeing and reorganising their finances. This is the same for 38-50 year olds (74% in Australia). However, by comparison, 68% of 51-70 year olds (57% in Australia) and 60% of people over 71 (57% in Australia) have felt this way since the onset of the pandemic.

The difference we can observe across age groups around the world is intensified when looking at people who are already retired versus the non-retired. While 75% of non-retired people were spurred into action by the onset of COVID-19 to reorganise their finances and consider their financial wellbeing, this was only the case for 66% of retired people. This difference is even more significant in Australia with 71% of non-retired people spent more time thinking about their financial wellbeing since the onset of Covid-19 versus non-retired at 53%.

Looking at the pandemic’s catalysing effect on people to focus on their finances across regions, there are a few points to note. Europe stands out from other regions again with the lowest percentage of people agreeing the pandemic had affected them in this way (68%), whereas Asia is placed at the other end of the scale with 79% of people agreeing they’d started to think more about their finances since the onset of COVID-19. The Americas were not far behind though with 77% of people feeling this way.

People that have spent more time thinking about their financial wellbeing since the onset of COVID-19, by location

Location Percentage
Thailand 91%
India 88%
Indonesia 88%
Brazil 86%
Mexico 86%
South Africa 86%
China 83%
Argentina 82%
UAE 82%
Singapore 81%
Greece 79%
Chile 78%
UK 76%
Hong Kong 76%
USA 76%
Spain 75%
Portugal 75%
Taiwan 75%
Poland 73%
Switzerland 70%
South Korea 68%
Australia 68%
Netherlands 66%
France 65%
Germany 64%
Austria 64%
Japan 64%
Belgium 63%
Sweden 62%
Denmark 60%
Italy 58%
Canada 58%
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At a country level, a few areas stand out. Italy and Canada are well below the global average, with 58% of people agreeing the pandemic had affected them in this way while in Thailand a resounding 91% of people have thought more about their financial wellbeing and reorganised their finances as a result of the pandemic.

While financial planning and wellbeing has certainly been pushed to the forefront of people’s minds since the onset of the pandemic, has this translated into behavioural changes?

If we look at the frequency with which people check the value of their investments as an example, we can see that people are now more likely to do this on a monthly basis than in 2019. The turbulent nature of the stock markets in the height of the pandemic and the surrounding uncertainty may have been a key driver.

The frequency with which people check the value of their investments

The frequency with which people check the value of their investments, by investment knowledge group

Those who rate themselves as expert or advanced investors check on the value of their investments more regularly, with 86% of them checking their investments at least once a month (88% in Australia), compared to 70% of beginner/rudimentary investors (65% in Australia). This is also a significant uplift from 2019 for the beginner/rudimentary group, where only 63% (48% in Australia) checked the value of their investments on a monthly basis.

On a regional level, people in Europe are least likely to check their investments on a monthly basis (79%) compared to Asia (82%), Americas (84%) and Other (81%). And on a country level, at the top end is Argentina with 91% of people checking their investments on a monthly basis, while at the other end are Belgium and Taiwan with 71% respectively.

Surprisingly, there was no variation across age groups with younger generations being just as likely to check their investments on a monthly basis as older generations in both 2019 and 2021. Globally, independently of whether people were retired or unretired, they were just as likely to check in on the performance of their investments more than once a month. This isn’t the case in Australia where 81% of non-retired people said they check their investments at least once a month whereas only 73% of retired people checked their investment at least once a month.

Saving versus spending

When examining the saving versus spending behaviour observed over the course of the past year, it’s important to remember that only people who intended to invest €10,000 (or the equivalent) or more over the next 12 months were able to take part in the Schroders Global Investor Study. The findings should therefore be understood within this context.

Ability to save (and invest) as planned over the course of 2020

Remarkably, in spite of the turbulent year, the majority of people have been able to save either as much as they planned to or more (80% globally and 81% in Australia). There is a notable pattern emerging among different age brackets, with older age groups less likely to meet or exceed their saving goals versus younger age groups. While 84% of 18-37 year olds either saved more than or met their saving plans (85% in Australia), this applied to 80% of 38-50 year olds (83% in Australia), 75% of 51-70 year olds (76% in Australia), and a mere 66% of people over 70 (65% in Australia).

This pattern is unsurprisingly reflected in retired people’s ability to meet savings expectations through 2020 versus non-retired people. Retired people were less likely (77% globally and 78% in Australia) to have saved as planned, compared to 80% of non-retired people (82% in Australia).

Expert/advanced investors are significantly more likely to have saved according to plan or exceeded their goals (90% globally and 93% in Australia) than beginner/ rudimentary investors (62% 63% globally and 64% in Australia). This finding is particularly significant in light of the earlier finding that expert/ advanced investors are more likely to have focused on their financial wellbeing and reorganised their finances on account of the pandemic. They were more likely to check in on the value of their investments, and more likely to also have saved effectively during a time of great uncertainty.

This suggests that decisions can be taken with a greater degree of confidence if there is the right focus and a dynamic approach to financial planning, instead of knee-jerk reactions and over-trading tendencies.

Ability to save (and invest) as planned over the course of 2020, by investment knowledge group*

Ability to save (and invest) as planned over the course of 2020, by region

The majority of people have been able to save according to plan regardless of their region. People in the Americas were least successful in saving according to plan (26%), while 17% of people in Europe did not save as much as planned.

There is significant variability on a country level though. For example while 90% of people in the USA and Netherlands have been able to save as planned, or indeed exceeded their saving plans, it’s a very different picture for people in Mexico (60%) and South Africa (59%).

Ability to save (and invest) as planned over the course of 2020, by country

Location Percentage
USA 90%
Netherlands 90%
UK 89%
Belgium 89%
China 89%
Austria 88%
Germany 87%
Indonesia 86%
Taiwan 85%
India 85%
Singapore 83%
Italy 83%
France 83%
Sweden 82%
Switzerland 81%
Australia 81%
Denmark 81%
Hong Kong 80%
Spain 80%
Poland 78%
UAE 76%
Brazil 75%
Canada 75%
Thailand 71%
South Korea 71%
Greece 70%
Japan 70%
Portugal 68%
Chile 65%
Argentina 65%
Mexico 60%
South Africa 59%
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The main reason why people failed to meet saving plans was salary and work income reduction (46%), followed by increased spending on non-essentials, such as entertainment, food, and deliveries.

The majority of people have been able to save according to plan regardless of their region

The drivers behind low saving rates differed across countries. In Australia, almost half of people (44%) claimed they saved less than they planned to due to reduced salary or work income. The main reason for people in Mexico not having saved as much as planned was ‘more spending on non-essentials’ (43%), while in South Africa, it was a ‘change in personal circumstances e.g. new dependents, moving home’ (47%).

Looking at countries like the USA where the vast majority of investors did manage to meet or exceed their saving targets, the top reason for those who were not able to save was reduced salary or work income (41%). Whereas for the equally high-performing Netherlands it was a ‘change in personal circumstances e.g. new dependents, moving home’ (42%).

Interestingly, while spending on non-essentials was an important reason for people not meeting their savings targets, ‘less spending on non-essentials’ is also the top reason people were able to save according to plan (60% globally and 63% in Australia).

Retired people who had managed to meet or exceed their saving plans in particular benefitted from less spending on non-essentials with 69% of retired people crediting this reason (78% in Australia).

Why people saved less than planned in 2020

Why people saved more than planned in 2020

A permanent shift?

People's savings intentions after the lifting of lockdown

A common phrase with which most of us will be familiar, and no doubt tired of, is ‘the new normal’. However, it raises a valid question: “will the pandemic have a lasting legacy in people’s finances?”.

In the context of personal finances, we have just discussed that many people have in fact been able to save more than anticipated through 2020 on account of a lack of spending on non-essentials. Is this behaviour set to continue?

While 29% of people say there will be no change in their saving behaviour once lockdowns lift, almost half (46% globally and 48% in Australia) say they will save more, while 24% say they intend to save less (22% in Australia).

People looking to put more money towards savings post-lockdown, by age bracket

Considering how this trend may play out across regions, there are some key differences. People in Europe are the least likely to save more once lockdowns end (43%) while people in South Africa, Australia and UAE are the most likely (52%) to do so. 50% of people in the Americas plan to put more money towards savings since the lifting of lockdown compared with 46% of people in Asia.

When looking at how lifting lockdown restrictions may affect the saving behaviour by age group, we can see that younger people (aged between 18 and 37) are more likely to save (52% globally and 51% in Australia) compared to older generations. Almost half of people aged between 38 and 50 globally (59% in Australia)anticipate saving more post-lockdown compared to only 40% of 51-70 year olds (35% in Australia). For people over 71 globally, an even smaller proportion (only 30%) look to add to their savings post-lockdown however this isn’t the case in Australia with 39% of those over 71 stating they will save more.

Looking more broadly at how people’s savings and investment behaviour could change when lockdowns lift, we can see that people will be looking to invest more towards low-risk asset investments (46% globally and 44% in Australia) as well as saving more (46% globally and 48% in Australia). A smaller portion of people are also looking to invest more in high-risk asset investments (37% globally and 34% in Australia suggesting that the experience with the pandemic may have made people more risk averse. .

People willing to save and invest more after the lifting of lockdown

People willing to save and invest more after the lifting of lockdown, by investment knowledge group*

Another interesting point to consider is how investors are planning to save and invest post-lockdown depending on their level of expertise. Expert/advanced investors are the most likely to put more money into savings post lockdown (57% globally and 63% in Australia), compared to about a third ( 35% globally and 34% in Australia) of beginner/ rudimentary investors. Almost half of expert/advanced investors are also keen to put more money towards high-risk asset investments (49% globally and 46% in Australia). This is more than two times the amount of beginner/rudimentary investors considering a high-risk investment strategy for the future.

Also of importance is that investing towards low-risk asset investments seems to be the most popular investment strategy post-lockdown for the beginner/rudimentary (37% globally and 32% in Australia) and intermediate investors (43% globally and 40% in Australia).

People willing to save and invest more after the lifting of lockdown, by age bracket

Different age groups plan to pursue different investment and saving strategies after lockdown, with younger people aged between 18-37 more likely to put money towards savings (52% globally and 51% in Australia) than people over 38 (43% globally and 47% in Australia).

Younger investors appear more likely to invest than their older peers independently of risk levels. 44% of 18-37 year olds (41% in Australia) intend to put money towards high-risk investments after the lifting of lockdown compared to 32% of over 38-year olds (31% in Australia). At the same time, they are more likely to put more money towards low-risk investments (51% globally and 47% in Australia).

This trend is reflected in retired versus non-retired people as well. There, we see that, broadly, non-retired people are more likely to put more money towards savings and investments once restrictions are lifted compared to retired people.

When it comes to spending once lockdown restrictions have been lifted, it’s apparent that not everyone is keen to make up for lost time by spending more on things such as luxury purchases, paying off debt, purchasing a property etc. A little over a third (35% globally and 36% in Australia) of people say they plan to do this.

While this is representative across regions, the trend intensifies when we look at propensity to spend post-lockdown at a country level. 52% of people in the USA are keen to spend more money on luxury purchases etc., perhaps because they also managed to save as planned.

Percentage of people who plan to increase spending once lockdowns lift, by country

Location Percentage
USA 54%
Netherlands 49%
UK 49%
India 46%
Belgium 44%
China 42%
UAE 40%
Indonesia 39%
Austria 38%
Spain 37%
Australia 36%
Germany 35%
South Africa 34%
Thailand 32%
South Korea 32%
Italy 32%
Chile 32%
Switzerland 32%
Singapore 31%
Greece 31%
Poland 31%
France 31%
Argentina 30%
Brazil 29%
Denmark 29%
Mexico 29%
Taiwan 27%
Canada 24%
Portugal 24%
Hong Kong 23%
Sweden 22%
Japan 17%
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At the other end of the scale is Japan, where in spite of the fact that 70% of people said they met their savings plans for 2020, only 17% will be spending more once lockdown lifts.

There is also an interesting trend when we look at investment knowledge groups and propensity to spend post lockdown.

Here we can see that the expert/advanced investor is almost twice as likely to spend post-lockdown (46% globally, 50% in Australia) as the beginner/rudimentary investor (25% globally, 22% in Australia).

We can also observe similar behaviour beginning to unfold among younger age groups where 18-37 year olds are more likely to spend post-lockdown (43% globally and in Australia) than over 38s (30% globally 32% in Australia). This is also naturally reflected, among retired versus non-retired groups globally, with 36% of non-retired people willing to spend more in general after lockdown ends than retired people (30%). This is even more evident in Australia with only 20% of retired people stating they will spend more versus 39% of non-retired.

People willing to spend more in general after lockdowns lift, by investment knowledge group*

Post-pandemic spending priorities

What people will spend their money on after lockdown restrictions lift

It certainly looks like we can expect to see higher rates of saving in the immediate future. Moreover, there are some interesting patterns emerging in people’s post-lockdown spending intentions as well.

In terms of post-pandemic priorities, investing in or purchasing property is the front runner, with 43% of people planning to put more money towards this. The next financial priority is luxury purchases with 35% of people looking forward to spending more money on holidays, vehicles and special occasions. Very close behind is gifting to a charity with 34%. In Australia the three most popular priorities were paying off debt (40%), investing in or purchasing a property (39%) and giving to a charity (37%).

And following a year of school and university closures, 32% plan to spend more money on education. This order of priorities is reflected across regions and on a country level, except for a few locations such as Italy and Poland, where luxury purchases are the top priority for people.

Globally, across age groups and retired and non-retired groups we see investing in property is the number one ambition for spending post-lockdown. This is perhaps due to the amount of time people have had to spend in their own homes during Covid restrictions and anticipation of more flexible working policies in the future. Interestingly, in Australia there were differences highlighted between age groups with 18-37 year olds planning to spend more on paying off debt (50%) and those over 38 more likely to invest in or purchase a property (36%). Non-retired Australians were more likely to pay off debt (43%) or invest in or purchase a property (43%) than retired Australians who planned to spend more on luxury purchases (25%).

Saving more than planned does not necessarily translate to spending more. For example, 45% of people who saved more than planned want to invest in property post lockdown compared to 48% who saved as much as planned. People who did not manage to save as much as they planned, are more cautious with their future spending. They are less likely to purchase luxury items and priority is given to property investment.

How people intend to spend post-lockdown according to whether saving went according to plan in 2020

Retirement outlook

The pandemic has not only had an effect on people's investment and savings behaviour but also on their retirement outlook.

Retired people’s attitudes towards their retirement savings in the wake of COVID-19

We can see how financial wellbeing and personal finances have become front and centre in the minds of so many over the past year. The majority (58%) of retired people globally are more cautious with spending their retirement savings due to the pandemic. 30% are as cautious as before, while 12% have been made less cautious by the events. Interestingly, a higher percentage of Australian’s stated they have the same level of caution with spending their retirement savings (43%) versus their global counterparts (12%).

This sentiment is echoed across regions albeit to varying degrees. While only 50% of retired people in Europe are now more cautious with their retirement savings, 64% of retired people in the Americas feel this way and 65% of people in Asia.

Perhaps surprisingly, there was little deviation difference globally across different levels of investment expertise. Expert/advanced investors were only 6 percentage points more likely (15%) to feel less cautious with spending their savings than beginner/rudimentary investors (9%). In contrast, this gap is much higher in Australia with 17% of beginner/rudimentary investors stating they are likely to feel less cautious with spending their savings than expert/advanced investors (5%).

While the majority of retired people (62% globally and 81% in Australia) say that they would’ve retired at the same age regardless of COVID-19, a significant minority (21% globally and 10% in Australia) say that if they’d known, they would have retired earlier. It’s interesting to see that Australians were more likely than their global peers (or counterparts?) to stick to their original retirement plans regardless of the pandemic.

Retired people’s thoughts on the age they retired in light of COVID-19

Retired people’s thoughts on the age they retired in light of COVID-19, across regions

Looking across regions, this sentiment is representative but with slight nuances. For instance, retired people in Asia would have retired earlier, had they known about the events of 2020 (24%). 20% of retired people in Europe and the Americas respectively and 17%

Also of note is that when looking at investment knowledge group globally, expert/advance retired investors are almost two times more likely to have retired later (21%) than their beginner/ rudimentary counterparts (11%) had they known about the pandemic. Investment knowledge appears to be less of a driver with Australian investors with only a 2 percentage points difference in expert/advanced retired investors (12%) and beginner/rudimentary investors (10%).

When looking at how the pandemic has affected non-retired people’s views on retirement planning, it’s clear that it has had a significant impact. 67% of people globally (62% in Australia) would now like to save more for their retirement, following the events of COVID-19. 21% of non-retired people (25% in Australia) would like to save the same amount while only 13% would like to save less.

Non-retired people’s attitudes towards their retirement savings in the wake of COVID-19

Non-retired people’s attitudes towards their retirement savings in the wake of COVID-19, by age

This desire to save more for retirement is reflected across investment knowledge groups, with expert/advance investors more likely to want to save more (70% globally and 68% in Australia) than beginner/ rudimentary investors (63% globally and 66% in Australia).

Interestingly, we can see that globally non-retired people between 18-37 are slightly more likely to want to save more for their retirement (70%) than people over 38 (64%) following the events of 2020. This is despite only 52% claiming they want to save more towards their savings generally.

This is because more non-retired people over 38 want to save the same amount towards their retirement.

And people are committed to doing this. 85% of non-retired people who said they want to save more, are already saving more money towards their retirement both globally and across different regions.

Likewise, the non-retired people who said they wanted to start saving less for their retirement are doing so with 79% of these people are already reducing the amount they’re saving.

Sentiment towards retirement age is quite evenly balanced. About a third of non-retired people think they will now retire later, while a third think they’ll retire at the same age, and a little under a third think they will retire earlier.

To look into why these three groups have emerged and what from the past year could have led to it, we can compare it with people’s savings performance during the course of 2020.

Non-retired people’s attitudes towards expected retirement age following COVID-19

How well non-retired people saved according to plan vs. when they think they’ll retire

There are a few interesting results that are worth pulling out. Starting with the group of non-retired people who think they will retire earlier. 39% of them saved as much as they planned to, perhaps demonstrating that they feel confident in their financial future, especially given the challenges the past year has presented. 30% of this group saved more than they planned to, again demonstrating confidence in their plans.

However, another theme is that of the non-retired people who have not saved as much as they’d planned but still think they’ll retire earlier (21%) or that they’ll retire at the same age (43%). While this could be cause for concern, the results show that at least this group are aware they will need to save a slightly higher portion of their income, compared to the global average of 12.8%, towards retirement in order to live comfortably.

How saving ability during the pandemic has impacted the amount of savings they think they will need for a comfortable retirement

When examining the level of income that non-retired people think they need to save each year in order to live comfortably in retirement, there’s a slight difference across regions. Non-retired people in Europe think they need to save the least per year (11.2%) while people in the Americas and in Asia think they need to save 13.9% respectively. People across the UAE, South Africa and Australia think they need to save 13.2%.

Annual percentage of income non-retired people think they need to save between now and retirement to live comfortably, by region

Annual percentage of income non-retired people think they need to save between now and retirement to live comfortably, by investment knowledge group*

Interestingly, the level of investment knowledge seems to make very little difference in the amount of income people feel they should save for a comfortable retirement.

There is more variance if we look at people’s age. Those between 18 and 37 are more likely to think they need to save less (12.5% globally and 11.9% in Australia) per year than non-retired people over 38 (13% globally and in Australia).

How much people think they should save from their income for retirement vs. how much people are actually saving from their income for retirement

It would seem that these goals are already achievable as non-retired people are saving more than what they think they should be saving for retirement. Which, in turn, could suggest that the goals are not set high enough.

We find similar results when we considering investment knowledge . Globally beginner/ rudimentary and intermediate investors are saving very close to their goal amount. Expert/advanced non-retired investors are saving 2.9 percentage points (4 percentage points in Australia) more than what they think is needed for a comfortable retirement.

Looking across regions, we can also see that people’s actions to achieve a comfortable retirement are exceeding their requirements, with the average annual percentage of income that people are actually saving for retirement surpassing their minimum requirements.

People in Europe are saving the least for their retirement (12,4%), while people in Asia are saving the most (15.9%), followed by the Americas (15%).

Age also has a small impact on the amount of income people are saving towards retirement. People between the ages of 18 and 37 are saving 14.6% of their income for retirement per year, compared with the 13.9% that non-retired people more than 38 are saving. Unlike the global findings, those aged over 38 in Australia are saving more (15.1%) than those aged 18-37 (14.8%).

Annual percentage of income non-retired people are saving for retirement, by investment knowledge group*

Annual percentage of income non-retired people are saving for retirement, by region

Key takeaways

In spite of the challenges the pandemic has presented, in many ways it has also created opportunities, and this can be seen in people’s investment behaviour:

  • People around the world are still feeling optimistic about the return on their investments
  • The pandemic has presented an opportunity to recalibrate personal finances and to focus on financial wellbeing
  • Due to decreased spending on non-essentials, investors have been able to save according to plan or even exceed their savings targets
  • Increased saving looks likely to continue even after lockdowns lift and ‘normality’ resumes

Important information

The value of investments and the income from them may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested. Exchange rate changes may cause the value of any overseas investments to rise or fall. Schroders commissioned Raconteur Media to conduct, between 16 March and 7 May 2021, an independent online study of 23,450 people in 32 locations around the world. This research defines “people” as those who will be investing at least €10,000 (or the equivalent) in the next 12 months and who have made changes to their investments within the last 10 years.

This information is not an offer, solicitation or recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or to adopt any investment strategy. Information herein is believed to be reliable but we do not warrant its completeness or accuracy. Any data has been sourced by us and is provided without any warranties of any kind. It should be independently verified before further publication or use. Third-party data is owned or licenced by the data provider and may not be reproduced, extracted or used for any other purpose without the data provider’s consent. Neither we, nor the data provider, will have any liability in connection with the third-party data. The material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice. Reliance should not be placed on any views or information in the material when taking individual investment and/or strategic decisions. No responsibility can be accepted for error of fact or opinion. Any references to securities, sectors, regions and/ or countries are for illustrative purposes only. Schroders has expressed its own views and opinions in this document and these may change.

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