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Bank Austria Investment Barometer:
Confidence brightens depositors' expectations for the future

  • Increased scepticism regarding securities, move towards traditional forms of saving
  • Capital guarantee, security of the company and low levels of risk are important decision criteria
  • Roughly EUR 171, or 10.1 per cent of monthly net income, saved each month

Although the value is slightly down from last year, over half of all Austrians still believe that they are be able to save less now than they could three years ago. This is indicated by the current Bank Austria investment barometer, a representative survey performed by the market research institute GfK and commissioned by Bank Austria. According to the survey, 44 per cent of those surveyed think that they can currently save more or at least the same amount as they could three years ago. Last year it was 42 per cent and in 2007, when Austrians generally had a more positive attitude towards their income situation, it was 56 per cent.

"Confidence is helping to brighten the negative outlook depositors had for their future investments last year. Over half are convinced that in 2012 they will be able to save as much or more than they can now," says Rainer Hauser, Bank Austria's director for retail and business customers. In concrete terms, it is now 52 percent, compared to just 43 per cent last year. Accordingly, the number of people who believe that they will be able to save less in three years than they can now has declined significantly – from 46 per cent last year to 36 per cent in this year's survey. Young people with a secondary school degree or higher education have a more optimistic view of their investment future.

Securities suffer from tarnished image
Three-fourths of those surveyed agreed with the statement that investing in securities is tantamount to gambling. Only 10 per cent view the current environment as attractive for new commitments. Last year it was 17 per cent. "While some investors are taking advantage of declined prices to make investments, scepticism towards securities is growing in general," says Hauser. As a result, less of those surveyed consider securities to have more earning power than savings accounts, namely 37 per cent in comparison to 44 per cent.

The issue of security has always been important to Austrians, but it has gained even more importance over the last few months. "In total, more than half of those surveyed indicated that a capital guarantee, the security of the company and low levels of risk are decisive criteria for selecting products," emphasises Hauser. This explains the strong demand for investment products with a capital guarantee.

"How would you invest EUR 10,000?" The responses to this question confirm that there is currently a growing trend for "traditional forms of saving". Some 58 per cent would opt for a savings account and 25 per cent for a building association savings agreement.

"How would you manage EUR 10,000?" In response to this question, 44 per cent confirmed that they have high confidence in their personal advisor at their main bank. In addition, 24 per cent gather information from various sources, up from last year's level, and 24 per cent solicit offers from multiple financial institutions.

Despite a historical low in consumption, diminished incomes and less new debt will mean not as much money is available for investments
Weak income growth among Austrians will also lead to weak consumer spending. The savings ratio is expected to increase again to 12.8 per cent. At the same time, Austrians will incur virtually no new debt in 2009. As a result, less funds will be available for investment in 2009 than in previous years. "Despite a historically low level of consumption, weak income growth and the reluctance to take on new debt will lead to somewhat lower investment sums per person in 2009 than in the last few years," says Stefan Bruckbauer, deputy chief economist at Bank Austria. The economists at Bank Austria are expecting EUR 171 per Austrian and month, which is only slightly below the average for the last four years of EUR 182. However, at 10.1 per cent of disposable income, this is the lowest level in relation to disposable income since 2001.

As in the past three years, new investments will once again mainly focus on bank deposits in 2009, with EUR 116 per month invested in such accounts. This value is somewhat lower than in 2008, when a portion of the money being withdrawn from funds was deposited in bank accounts. For the first time since 2006, we might see new investments made in funds again in 2009, although on a much smaller scale than in the years before 2007, at a moderate EUR 7 per Austrian and month. The amount that will go into new investments in equities may be somewhat larger. Despite high levels of volatility on the equity markets, Austrians continue to buy more stocks than they sell, although much less money is going into equities than into savings accounts. After record amounts were shifted from funds to bonds in 2008, there is likely to be much less investment in bonds this year, namely around EUR 11 per person and month.

Enquiries: Bank Austria Press Office Austria
Alexander Tröbinger, Tel. +43 (0) 50505 - 52809
E-mail: alexander.troebinger@unicreditgroup.at 

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