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11.10.2012

Bank Austria Investment Barometer for World Savings Day:
Traditional savings products maintain their status as a safe haven

  • Despite the general decline in the savings rate and a historically low interest rate, traditional savings products (savings accounts, building association savings) are the only forms of savings and investment to gain in popularity among investors
  • Trend clearly points to short-term investments: People feel it is important to have their money available in case of a change in the investment situation
  • 54 per cent save less than EUR 100 per month, 7 per cent more than EUR 500
  • During turbulent economic times, World Savings Day is a fixed point for 1.2 million people in Austria – who are definitely planning a visit to their bank

The latest Bank Austria Investment Barometer for World Savings Day shows surprising developments and strategies among investors under the current difficult conditions: There has been a decline in the traditional reasons and motivations for saving or investing. Of those surveyed, 62 per cent say that they can save less now than in the past. Nevertheless, traditional savings products such as savings accounts, building association savings and online savings accounts are the only forms of investment that have been able to gain greater investor interest (77 per cent compared to 75 per cent in 2011). Investor interest has waned when it comes to life insurance policies (43 per cent compared to 52 per cent in 2011), real estate (47 per cent compared to 50 per cent in 2011), state-subsidised retirement investments (36 per cent compared to 45 per cent in 2011), gold, silver, valuables and antiques (27 per cent compared to 32 per cent in 2011). Of the people surveyed, 54 per cent save less than EUR 100 a month and 7 per cent save more than EUR 500.

Traditional savings products the only alternative
"Despite the current low interest rates, investors are convinced by traditional savings products because they are easy to understand (90 per cent agreement) and they offer the advantage of deposit insurance (72 per cent agreement)," said Rainer Hauser, the Bank Austria Management Board member responsible for Family & SME Banking. "On one hand, the uncertainties on the financial markets and the negative prospects when it comes to people’s ability to save are having an adverse effect on long-term investments. On the other, due to their higher risk and longer duration, other investment possibilities on the market only offer limited alternatives. This trend is apparent to us at Bank Austria as well, with the volume of savings deposits remaining at roughly EUR 18 billion."

The motivations for saving are on the decline in general, and the trend in 2011 towards saving for consumer goods has been overtaken this year. Among the various motives to save, provisions for emergencies are number one, at 57 per cent (a decline of 17 per cent compared to 2011), personal retirement provisions have seen a drop of 12 per cent to 50 per cent, holidays have fallen by 18 per cent (from 47 to 29 per cent) and the motivation to save for renovations or furniture has declined by 13 per cent (currently 33 and 30 per cent, respectively). Also weaker in 2012 than in 2011 is the motivation to save in order to buy a car (27 per cent compared to 33 per cent in 2011) and to buy real estate (15 per cent compared to 22 per cent in 2011).

Investment decisions in a low-interest environment
Of those surveyed, 57 per cent trust in their primary bank when it comes to investments, 27 per cent say that they observe the offers and interest rates on the market more closely, and 40 per cent claim that they are now saving less than in the past and prefer to spend their money. Some 62 per cent are saving less now than three years ago (2011: 49 per cent): This means that people now estimate that they are saving considerably less than in the recent past. The outlook for the near future indicates that this trend will continue.

According to Martin Gölles, head of Bank Austria Market Research, "Young people up to the age of 29 and people with higher incomes are more confident, but the outlook tends to be poor among people over the age of 60 and low-income earners. Traditional savings instruments remain in the lead, with long-term investments as well as property ownership, real estate, precious metals and valuables suffering declines compared to last year. This is likely mainly the result of falling earnings expectations due to the currently high price level."

World Savings Day remains a fixture for 1.2 million people in Austria
Some 1.2 million people (2011: 1.1 million) have fixed plans to visit their bank on World Savings Day, and an additional 400,000 at least intend to go to the bank on 31 October. This visit has become a tradition, with people bringing along their children and looking forward to the gifts. For nearly 15 per cent, World Savings Day is a good opportunity to take their savings in to the bank. According to Bank Austria Management Board Member Rainer Hauser, "The savings account is the safest and simplest form of investment and remains the only alternative of its kind – despite low interest rates. In the current environment, savings accounts with a short term are seen as a safe way to bridge gaps before reinvesting the money again later."

The Bank Austria Investment Barometer was performed by Spectra Marktforschung in the period from 20 to 24 September 2012 and was conducted among 500 men and women above the age of 15 by means of computer-assisted telephone interviews.

Enquiries: Bank Austria Media Relations
 Matthias Raftl, tel. +43 (0) 50505 - 52809
 E-mail: matthias.raftl@unicreditgroup.at

The presentation of the Bank Austria Investment Barometer can be downloaded free of charge at http://www.bankaustria.at/sub/open.html#/sub/23945.html.

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