Latest UniCredit Bank Austria survey on investment behaviour in Austria:
Low-interest rate environment reinforces trend toward securities and sustainable investments

  • Interest in securities and sustainable investment growing, especially among bank customers under 30; savings products remain most popular form of investment
  • Traditional savings see significant wealth reduction — savings rate slightly down but still well above pre-COVID-19 levels; consumption continues to grow   
  • Investment in securities driven primarily by long-term return expectations (57%), wealth accumulation (48%), retirement provision (39%) and investment in assets for children and families (25%)
  • Interest in sustainable investments growing significantly (72%) — yield must also be right (for 94% of securities customers)
  • Banking advice in demand: Almost 80% of all bank customers want advice on savings and investments
  • World Savings Day set to become World Savings Week — around 1.45 million Austrians have plans to visit their bank branch

The latest UniCredit Bank Austria representative survey on the investment behaviour of Austrians, conducted by Marketagent.com among a pool of 607 respondents, reveals that interest in securities sits at 33% (2019: 26%) and interest in sustainable investments sits at 13% (2019: 7%) — these figures represent significant increases. Despite high inflation and low interest rates, however, savings products remain the most common form of investment (59%), although they are losing some of their appeal (2019: 63%).  These trends are particularly pronounced among younger bank customers, i.e. those under 30: There has been a marked spike in interest in securities among this age group (47% versus 28% in the over-40 age group), and the number actually going on to utilise such products has also grown (27% versus 20%). Interest in sustainable investments is also very high in general (73%), and particularly among people under 30 (76%), with ethical investment being a key consideration. 

"Our latest survey shows a lasting change in the attitude of the respondents in two points in particular: Securities are largely used by people for long-term asset protection and retirement provision as well as to  provide for children and the family. Furthermore, sustainable investments and realistic return expectations are by no means contradictory. People are increasingly being won over by the potential of companies with a sustainable business model, which is why they want to invest in them", says Robert Zadrazil, CEO of UniCredit Bank Austria.

Although savings with the bank have fallen slightly to 59% (2019: 63%), they are still the most popular option — though only 36% of respondents consider savings to be an interesting investment option. Among younger bank customers (those under 30), savings (62%) and home purchase savings plans (38%) rank among the top choices in actual use, followed by securities investments at 27%. Among bank customers over 40, real estate is also relatively high at 22%, while in the under-30 age bracket only 10% can afford to invest in this area. 

EUR 4 billion real-terms wealth reduction in deposits
In 2020, the savings rate in Austria rose from 8.2% to 14.5%, while consumption fell sharply. "We expect the savings rate for 2021 to fall to around 12.5%, which is still noticeably higher than the average 8% savings rate seen before the pandemic. Consumption is on the up again this year, but it has not yet returned to 2019 levels", says UniCredit Bank Austria Chief Economist Stefan Bruckbauer, giving his analysis of the situation. Around half of monetary assets in Austria take the form of deposits with banks, with just under a quarter allocated to securities and insurance products. 

In 2020 alone, the real-terms reduction in deposits was almost EUR 4 billion, and in 2021 the reduction is likely to be even more pronounced due to higher inflation. If the proportion of deposits and securities among the monetary assets of Austrian households were to be reversed, i.e. around a quarter in deposits and half in securities, households could have made estimated real-terms earnings of over EUR 4 billion per year. 

"Many people continue to accept the loss of value of their savings without actively considering alternative options that could yield great opportunities. It is our job to continue providing information and highlighting the opportunities offered by the capital market if investors take expert advice", explains Robert Zadrazil.

Long-term capital investment and retirement provision as main motivators for investment in securities
Analysis of the motivating factors when it comes to investing in securities reveals that speculation and short-term returns are really not the main concern for investors. Rather, some 57% hope to achieve higher returns over the long term, while 48% are keen to ensure the lasting preservation of assets. Retirement provision also plays a major role, at 39%.  A further 25% hope to use the investment to safeguard their family's and their children's future. 

Significantly increased demand for sustainable investments with attractive return prospects
Interest in and demand for sustainable investments is increasing all the time and has roughly doubled since 2019.  Younger bank customers in particular are keen for their money to do something to aid environmental and climate protection. Some 47% of those surveyed (an increase of 20% on 2019) are aware of "sustainable investments"; for holders of securities this figure increases to a weighty 76%. The main arguments for sustainable investment among bank customers over 40 are the prospect of an attractive return (88%), investment with a clear conscience (79%) and making a clear statement about sustainability (69%). 

Almost everyone is aware of cryptocurrencies, but only one in ten people really knows much about them
An impressive 95% of the bank customers aged under 30 who were surveyed say they have at least heard of cryptocurrencies, but only about one in ten says they really know a lot about them. What is striking is that younger bank customers in particular are more interested in cryptocurrencies and use them more frequently (16%) than the population as a whole (10%). "We warn our customers against investing in cryptocurrencies. They are not subject to any safeguards and are highly speculative. Anyone looking to make a sound investment in the capital market based on a calculable risk can be sure of receiving first-rate advice from our consultants", says Robert Zadrazil.

Banking advice is crucial: Almost 80% are keen to take advice 
"The survey clearly shows that advice from experts on investment issues is considered to be of great importance. Almost 80% of all bank customers want expert advice on investment. Three-quarters of securities clients report having taken investment advice last year, more than half of them in a bank branch (42%). Likewise, 43% of younger bank customers (those under 30) took advantage of investment advice from banks, 27% of them in a branch. As a modern omnichannel bank looking to offer our customers even greater flexibility and security, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are constantly strengthening our digital channels", explains Robert Zadrazil. "A video call is a simple and secure alternative to face-to-face meetings or phone calls to discuss financial advice, and essential banking transactions can be performed from the comfort of your own home." 

Anyone looking to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the capital markets and make some promising investments can do so via "fund savings", for instance. With Bank Austria, customers can invest in sustainability funds from the "Amundi-Ethik-Fonds" family from just EUR 30 per month.

Up to 1.45 million people keen to take advantage of World Savings Week 
"This year, around 1.45 million Austrians are once again keen to visit a bank branch to mark World Savings Day — just as many as before the pandemic began. In order to space out the crowds and make sure we can protect our customers, this year we will once again be having an entire World Savings Week. In addition to showcasing our other offerings, this event offers an opportunity for customers to seek advice on the best investment solutions currently available in the low-interest-rate environment", says Robert Zadrazil. This year's World Savings Week will take place in the autumn holiday period of 25 October to 29 October. In order to put a smile on the face of children who are experiencing some difficult situations, Bank Austria is this year once again donating EUR 10,000 to CliniClowns, which has partnered with the bank on World Savings Day for many years now.

UniCredit Bank Austria Press Office
Matthias Raftl, Tel.: +43 (0)5 05 05-52809;
Email: matthias.raftl@unicreditgroup.at