Many Chinese-Americans May Not See Financial Risks

April 12, 2004 ( - Many employees may spend their days fretting about money, but those worries apparently don't extend to Chinese Americans, according to a new survey.

MetLife’s 2003 Employee Benefits Trend found that Chinese-speaking workers are significantly less concerned than the general employee population about financial security. The difference in worry levels ranges from:

  • having enough money to make ends meet (19% vs. 69% overall)
  • job security (19% vs. 71% overall)
  • outliving retirement money (20% vs. 48% overall)
  • having appropriate health insurance for the workers and their family (19% vs. 76% overall).

Certainly a key factor is that many Chinese-speaking employees already feel financially secure with only 5% saying they live from paycheck-to-paycheck, compared to 52% of the overall population.

However, some Chinese-speaking families may not sufficiently recognize their financial risks. According to the MetLife study, nearly half (46%) have children under 18, while more than one-third (34%) have parents who are financially dependent on them (compared with 5% overall). However, while 69% of Chinese-speaking workers have basic term life insurance, only 56% have disability insurance.

Also, many Chinese-speaking employees have not evaluated their personal money picture. Some 29% have done no specific planning towards financial goals, and nearly four in 10 (37%) have not started their retirement planning. Only half have done research on their own regarding planning for financial goals (51%) and retirement (47%), while even less have met or talked with a financial planner regarding financial goals (16%) and retirement (15%).

Many Chinese-speaking employees may be underestimating their own longevity, and therefore how many years to plan for retirement. One in five (20%) are planning for 0-5 years (vs. 4% overall), while another 12% are planning for 6-10 years (vs. 4% overall). Half of Chinese-speaking workers (48%) are unable to estimate what their annual income needs will be during retirement.

Employers are looking for ways to address the diverse needs of their workforce, according to the survey. One in ten employers cite the need for multi-lingual benefits communication materials; among this group, 20% indicate a need for Chinese language materials. This need increases with employer size. Employers also note the importance of receiving multi-lingual benefits support in through communications (63%), enrollment (62%), call service support (51%) and online service (49%).

The study was conducted during the third quarter of 2003 and consisted of two distinct surveys. The employee survey polled 728 full-time employees, age 21 and older, at companies with at least two employees. In addition to the base sample, the survey was completed by 113 Chinese-speaking employees with Asian backgrounds. The second survey polled 1,548 HR/Benefits executives from companies with at least two employees. Both surveys were fielded during September and conducted by NFO World Group via a Web-based survey methodology.

For a copy of the survey’s executive summary, please contact Gene Lanzoni (908) 253-1775 or write  .