A new test given as part of the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey, about the financial literacy of people worldwide, has produced some alarming, yet not that surprising, results. It should be of no surprise that people globally don’t really understand some of the central tenants to global monetary policy, nor do they understand some of the key concepts about retirement. This was revealed in a recent Bloomberg article published today, which states that "Many of the participants failed the quiz, with big potential consequences for their future security."
Here's the quiz in its entirety.
The first alarming problem is that the average every day investor doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a stock and a mutual fund. When asked which of the two were the riskier financial instrument, only 45% of people around the world knew the answer - that's less than half. Bloomberg wrote:
But before we get to that, take a look at this question—only 45 percent of people around the world got right:
Q. Do you think the following statement is true or false? “Buying a single company stock usually provides a safer return than a stock mutual fund.”
The possible answers? True, false, do not know and refuse to answer.
Sixteen percent of people got it wrong. “Do not know” was chosen by 38 percent. In the U.S., 46 percent of workers got it right. Good for you, America. (The answer, in case you were wondering, is false.)
Also, it is a little to no surprise that the average middle-class worker doesn’t seem to understand how inflation works or how it affects their ability to purchase goods. This may explain Central Banks' obsession with manipulating it and using it as a tool to further their spending agendas. The article continued:
It was an inflation question that had the highest percentage of wrong answers, however. More than 20 percent of workers didn’t grasp how higher inflation hurts their buying power. Given that declining health was the most-cited retirement worry, at 49 percent, and healthcare is an area (in the U.S., especially) with high cost-inflation, well, that makes the subject something older folks should have down cold.
The survey asked workers—about 1,000 per country—what global trends would affect their retirement plans. “Reduction in government retirement benefits” was the most popular answer worldwide, chosen by 38 percent globally; in America, it was 26 percent. The countries most worried about cuts to government benefits? Brazil and Hungary, at about 53 percent.
The reality of trends that will actually impact retirees seemed to go unnoticed, however, according to the survey.
Across the board, though, workers didn’t seem to recognize the huge impact that basic changes in the labor force, technology and the climate will probably have on their retirement plans, said Catherine Collinson, president of the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies and executive director of The Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement.
Survey participants also seemed to be a little detached from when they would actually stop working, on average. The survey found an alarming number of people who wanted to work to 65 but had to retire early, generally for reasons of declining health or simply "job loss". The article continued:
“It makes me wonder about the extent to which people are naive about the magnitude of the disruption in our world, and the level of change that has not only occurred, but is imminent,” said Collinson. “Is it that people don’t see it coming, or is it so overwhelming that people are in denial?”
Many workers may well be in denial about how long they can actually work. The survey found workers generally plan to retire around age 65. “The sobering reality is that 39 percent of retirees globally retired sooner than planned,” according to the report. “Of those, 30 percent stopped working earlier than they had planned for reasons of ill health, and 26 percent due to unemployment/job loss.”
As for being kept company during retirement, 20% of Chinese workers believed that robots will be doing the job by the time they retire.
The survey asked about “aging friendly modifications or devices” people envisioned having in their homes. Thirty-five percent of workers in India, 34 percent of workers in Turkey and 18 percent in the U.S. figured aging could include video monitoring devices. Then there are the robots, which 20 percent of Chinese workers see coming in retirement, compared with 6 percent of American workers.