Over half of Austrians on financially shaky ground: survey

The Local (news@thelocal.com)
The Local ([email protected]) • 4 Aug, 2022 Updated Thu 4 Aug 2022 07:35 CEST
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Most Austrians don't feel financially well-informed, a recent survey found. Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

More than 50 percent of Austrians feel financially unprepared for any unexpected turns in life, a new survey has found.

Money is really tight for people right now: inflation is high, energy prices are spiralling, even shopping for essentials in the supermarket is putting a strain on people's wallets.

And that's before you even think about pensions and planning for the future.

READ ALSO: What is Austria planning to do to cushion the rising cost of living

Sixty-six percent of Austrians are finding it increasingly difficult to make the right pension and financial decisions, according to a recent survey from Swiss Life, as reported by Austrian daily Der Standard.

The results were based on a survey of 1,050 people from Austria aged from 18 to 70 at the start of April.

It seems that many people are also unhappy with financial decisions they've made in the past.

A majority – 51 percent – of Austrians said they had made at least one important financial decision that they would later like to have reversed.

And around a third had even lost a large amount of money because they hadn't informed themselves well enough.

'Knowledge is power'
A lack of information around finance seems to be quite a common problem: only 34 percent of survey respondents said they felt really well-informed about financial topics.

It's rather worrying that so many people feel unprepared for the unexpected; a break-up, an appliance breaking down, there are many things that can put additional pressure on household budgets.

"The study once again underlines how important and forward-looking financial education and skills are," said Christoph Oberlacher, CEO of Swiss Life Austria.

"Knowledge is power. Only those who have the skills and abilities to make financial decisions on an objective basis will be able to lead a self-determined life in all matters in the future," he added.

And people clearly recognise they need help to become better informed.

A high proportion of those surveyed – 74 percent – thought that getting advice on financial and pension issues was important, with 66 percent saying they felt having a personal adviser was increasingly important.

This comes as many banks and financial providers have expanded apps and online offerings to make it easier for people to access financial products.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is the youngest people in the survey – those born between 1981 and 2004 – who attached the most importance to seeking advice – 78 percent.

And people in Austria really trust their financial and insurance providers – the survey found that trust was high across all generations at 81 percent.

'Increased desire for stabiity'
Only a third of those surveyed did not have a permanent adviser at a bank or insurance company.

"The years of the pandemic in particular have increased the desire for stability and security in society as a whole," said Oberlacher.

The pandemic turned life upside down for many people, so it is not surprising that 86 percent of those surveyed considered financial autonomy to be a fundamental need. 

Fortunately, 71 percent said achieving this was a realistic goal for them personally.

And the survey showed that people have a clear sense of personal responsibility for the outcome of their decisions, too: 75 percent of Austrians said they felt responsible for the success – as well as the failure – of their financial provisions.

People may feel they are not well-informed, but most – 68 percent – had clear financial goals, nonetheless. Every second person said they were planning a decision with major financial implications in the next year.

Finally, 27 percent of those who were approaching retirement or had already retired (people born between 1946 and 1964) said they wished they'd taken personal advice when making decisions about retirement.

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