Covid-19 is severely affecting personal finances globally, with one in three people now earning less and more than half expecting the pandemic to have a further impact on their income or employment, a Standard Chartered survey finds. However, young people (18 to 34 years old) and those in emerging markets are the most confident in their digital skills and prepared to adapt and work harder to realize opportunities in a post-Covid-19 world.
The study looks into how consumers' attitudes toward work and their ability to earn money have been impacted by the pandemic. It covers 12,000 adults (18 and above) across 12 markets – Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The survey reveals a stark contrast between the financial reality that people face and their confidence in the future. This can be explained by a willingness – particularly among young people and those in emerging markets – to work harder, take steps to adapt income streams, and re-skill if they can, in order to earn more.
Young people are particularly confident, with 80% of them feeling they have the digital skills needed to thrive post COVID-19, compared with 63% of those over 65. And, with many graduating or leaving school in the midst of a global recession, younger generations are also more willing, or able, to adapt to the current circumstances.
For example, 75% of those aged 25 to 34 would consider setting up a second income stream, compared with 40% of those over 55; and 72% of 18- to 44-year-olds would re-skill compared with 37% of those aged 55 and above.
Millennials and Generation Z are also more likely to respond to the crisis by starting a new business. According to the survey, 52% of those aged 18 to 44 would consider doing so in the next six months, compared with 30% of those 45 and above. Globally, this level of flexibility, adaptability and entrepreneurialism tends to decrease with age, along with confidence, despite – or perhaps because – older generations are more established in their careers.
The divide is even more stark when comparing developed and emerging markets. Those in established global economies are not only less confident they have the digital skills needed to thrive amid the downturn, but are also less willing to adapt and take steps to increase their income, the survey finds.
More than 88% of people in Kenya, Mainland China, India and Pakistan said they would prefer to work more to get ahead than reduce their hours for less pay. Meanwhile, the UK and the US had the highest proportion of people who valued free time over more money (38% and 33% respectively).
In terms of personal finances, respondents in Kenya (93%), Mainland China (85%), Malaysia (83%) and India (82%) report the highest proportion of people who want to better manage their money, to make it go further. And while the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the growth of online banking, with more than half of the respondents using online services more, the shift has been more apparent in fast-growing markets.
For example, increased use of mobile devices for banking services is most prominent in India (79%), the UAE (72%), and Kenya (69%). Fast-growth markets are also more likely to want their banks to help improve their confidence at managing money digitally as they increasingly look to bank online – Kenya (91%), India (84%) and Indonesia (84%).
Also, there is a global desire for more flexibility in working arrangements post-Covid-19. For those for whom it is applicable, 71% would prefer to continue working from home at least two days a week once restrictions are lifted and 77% want more flexible working arrangements, the survey finds.
Says Ben Hung, CEO of retail banking and wealth management and regional CEO for Greater China & North Asia at Standard Chartered: “Young people around the world have been hit particularly hard by the economic impact of the pandemic. Many are in insecure employment or graduating into a tough job market. Yet their confidence, adaptability and willingness to work hard, especially in fast-growing markets, provide hope for the recovery.
"Many are considering starting a new business in the wake of the pandemic and want to learn how to manage their finances better. They must be supported. Banks have a role to play both by helping them manage their money and providing tools that make banking easier so they can focus on leading the way to recovery.”