Retirement: The Worry Felt 'round the World

April 23, 2010 ( - The HSBC Global Pulse survey found the top three financial worries are the same for citizens around the globe: taxes, wealth preservation, and retirement.

Among respondents from the Americas to Asia and Europe, 82% selected taxes as a top financial concern, while preservation of wealth and retirement each were chosen by 81% of respondents.  

The survey revealed that, relative to their peers, affluent Americans took the largest losses on their portfolios. Looking back from 2008 to the present, more than half of the respondents in the U.S. (56%) said they lost money, despite the fact that 75% of them claimed to be either very or extremely knowledgeable about their personal financial matters, according to a press release.   

Only 19% of respondents in Hong Kong, 28% in Sao Paulo, and 37% in Sydney reported losses.   

Despite their losses, respondents in America say they haven’t taken any steps to change their investment strategy since 2008. The survey also revealed significant differences in asset allocation between countries, with Americans and Canadians more heavily weighted towards mutual funds, while respondents in Hong Kong, London, and Sao Paulo were more willing to invest in real estate, collectables, and alternatives.  

Almost nine in ten respondents (84%) are satisfied with their current jobs. More than half of the respondents (54%) say their ideal work/life balance would be to dedicate just 50% to 60% of their time to work, yet a majority are working more, spending 60% to 80% of their time on the job.   

Compensation ranked the number one job motivator across the respondent pool (96% of respondents said it’s important), but intellectual challenge was immediately behind (95%), followed closely by personal development (92%). The U.S., Hong Kong, Paris, and Sao Paulo ranked compensation as their top motivator, while London, Sydney, and Toronto ranked intellectual challenge higher.  

The HSBC Global Pulse was conducted online in February and March 2010 with 2044 respondents (54% male, 46% female) in 11 locations worldwide, including 200 participants per market in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Washington DC; 121 in Toronto; 94 in Vancouver; 228 in London; 199 in Hong Kong; and 201 in Sao Paulo and Sydney. All respondents are 25- 64 years old, college educated (43% with graduate degrees), have investable assets of at least $100,000 (48% over $500,000), and are financial decision makers in their households (96%).