Third of Hongkongers despair about finances

Business | Kevin Xu 5 May 2020

Almost one-third of Hong Kong residents feel anxious and overwhelmed about their financial futures amid the coronavirus pandemic, the highest among four major markets, according to a consumer survey by Swiss Re on financial anxiety and the demand for insurance products in Asia Pacific.

The Swiss Re commissioned a poll of 2,500 residents in Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and China, which was conducted by global market research company Ipsos in the second week of April 2020.

Twentyseven percent of respondents in the Asia Pacific region were anxious and overwhelmed about their finances at this time, while around 40 percent in all markets surveyed said they were "stretched but coping."

If consumers have to cut expenses, 72 percent of respondents in Hong Kong said they are willing to sacrifice dining out expenses, 53 percent will give up gym memberships and only 9 percent will cancel life insurance premiums.

A quarter in Singapore and one in five in Hong Kong would let go of their home or car insurance if pressed financially.

Also, 41 percent of the Hong Kong interviewees searched for information on new insurance policies and 22 percent bought new insurance.

Respondents were also asked what sort of services would add the most impact to their policies, either current or future.

The survey found that 47 percent of Hong Kong residents asked for instant financial aid and 66 percent of them demand priority access to healthcare products such as masks and medication.

In China, 85 percent either agreed or strongly agreed to the expectation that insurance companies would pay out valid claims. The figure was 54 percent for Australia, while Hong Kong and Singapore stood at 56 percent and 59 percent respectively.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority earlier said local household debt has ballooned to 80.4 percent of GDP in the fourth quarter last year, rising 4.6 percentage points from the second quarter and hitting a new high.

This indicates that a household debt crisis may be brewing in Hong Kong.

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