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Europe's savings culture shines through debt crisis

Two in five European investors (40%) say the most important piece of financial advice they would give their children would be that they should start saving as soon as possible according to new research from Schroders.


  • Parents across Europe advise children to save money and start a pension early
  • One in five Europeans to put back retirement and regret not saving earlier in life
  • 40% will not take out investments without professional advice

Two in five European investors (40%) say the most important piece of financial advice they would give their children would be that they should start saving as soon as possible according to new research from Schroders.

The research comes at a time when Europe faces challenging economic conditions, with the Eurozone debt crisis rated a top concern for investors (49%), followed by increasing inflation (34%), fears of a prolonged recovery (32%), and low interest rates (29%). Despite the challenging investment environment, the new Schroders research reveals that investors have not lost faith in the importance of saving from a young age and getting good financial advice.

The Schroders “European Wealth Index” examines the financial outlook and investment attitudes of a representative sample of affluent consumers spanning 10 European counties. The survey asked 1,400 investors the top three pieces of financial advice they would give their children.

1) Start saving as soon as possible – This most important piece of advice topped the poll across Europe (40%) and was the top choice in five of the 10 countries surveyed – UK (48%), France (46%), Spain (40%), Italy (39%) and Belgium (36%). The Schroders survey suggested that the financial advice parents would give their children was driven by their own investment experiences. When asked about their financial regrets, 63% of respondents acknowledged mistakes they had made and 25% said their key regret was not starting to invest earlier in life.

2) It’s never too early to start paying into a pension plan – The second most popular piece of advice which 34% of parents across Europe would give their children. It also came top in three European countries; Germany (41%), Switzerland (40%) and Austria (39%). Again, the Schroders research suggests parental advice to children is heavily shaped by their own experience. When asked about the current economic instability across Europe, 75% of investors said they had been negatively impacted financially. Their own top three concerns related to pensions; 24% said their pension pot had shrunk; 21% feared they would have to delay their planned retirement age and work for more years than they had intended and 20% believed their standard of living in later life would now be lower than that of their parents.

3) Don’t borrow too much money – Alongside pension fears, a strong debt intolerance emerged with 34% of respondents saying they would give this advice to their children. This topped the poll outright among investors in Sweden, although its perceived importance varied across Europe. In Sweden, the UK and Netherlands around 40% of investors prioritised this piece of advice, although in France and Italy the response was only around half as strong (20% and 24% respectively).

Flying in the face of sound of long-term financial planning almost one in 15 investors (7%) adopted a “live for today” mentality saying they would advise their children to ‘spend what you’ve got while you’ve got it’. It is possible that, for a minority of investors, the combined impact of the Eurozone debt crisis, rising inflation and low interest rates and fears over a drawn out recovery have prompted a ‘live for today’ attitude.

Peter Beckett, Head of International Marketing at Schroders commented: “Whilst the current economic crisis in Europe has had an immediate affect on adult investors, it is their children that face the long-term impact, whether this be in the form of funding their way through university or being responsible for their own pension arrangements. Despite the very challenging markets, it is encouraging that families are holding firm on the importance of saving and starting retirement planning early. Our research suggests that during volatile markets, investors are inclined to turn to professional advice to help them navigate the challenges to keep their plans alive.”

Table 1: Top three pieces of financial advice parents would give their children

                                     Start saving as soon as possibleIt's never to early to start paying into a pension planDon't borrow too much money

Europe average       

40% 34% 34%


48% 45% 39%


46% 27% 20%


38% 41% 32%


39% 19% 24%


36% 29% 30%


24% 15% 40%


40% 15% 35%


39% 40% 27%


37% 23% 43%


32%  39% 28%

 Source: Schroders European Wealth Index – September 2011

 Table 2: Top 10 investment concerns among adult investors in Europe


RankInvestment concernPercentage that were concerned
1 Eurozone debt crisis 49%


Rising inflation 34%
3 A weak or prolonged recovery 32%
4 General market volatility and uncertainty 30%
4 Current low levels of interest rates continuing 29%
5 Increasing taxes 27%
6 Rising interest rates 10%
Bubbles in emerging market 9%
8 Declining dividend payments 8%
9 Sovereign credit ratings 8%
10 Corporate credit ratings 3%

Source: Schroders European Wealth Index – September 2011

For further information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Georgina Robertson, International PR, Schroders 0207 658 6168

Notes to Editors

Additional tables are available upon request. The research was undertaken by YouGov in September 2011 among a representative sample of affluent investors spanning 10 European countries. These comprised: Germany, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, France and the UK. The affluent investor sample was defined as people with invested assets, excluding primary residence, of €100,000 (or the equivalent amount).

Schroders plc

Schroders is a global asset management company with billion £182.2bn (€211.6 billion, $283.9 billion) under management as at 30 September, 2011. Our clients are major financial institutions including pension funds, banks and insurance companies, local and public authorities, governments, charities, high net worth individuals and retail investors.

With one of the largest networks of offices of any dedicated asset management company, we operate from 32 offices in 25 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. Schroders has developed under stable ownership for over 200 years and long-term thinking governs our approach to investing, building client relationships and growing our business.

Further information about Schroders can be found at or on Schroders Talking Point

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