New survey finds happiness in marriage and retirement savings are also highly valued
Kuala Lumpur, 30 October 2014 – A survey commissioned by AIA on the Hopes and Aspirations of the Middle Class in Malaysia reveals that Malaysia’s middle class places health, happiness in marriage and a better life for their children before wealth accumulation as their primary goals and motivations in life.
Sixty-eight per cent of Malaysia’s middle class rated being healthy as one of their top life goals. This was followed by 38 per cent who valued having a happy marriage or relationship and 35 per cent who gave top priority to having a comfortable retirement.
On balance Malaysia’s middle class expect their life situations to improve over the next 12 months, as indicated by an AIA Middle Class Index (MCI) score of 60.5, where scores above 50 show more expect situations to improve than to worsen. Even so, they cited affordability of healthcare (51 per cent), unexpected emergencies (46 per cent) and the cost of housing (31 per cent) as their main concerns.
Bill Lisle, Chief Executive Officer, AIA Bhd. said, “A key insight from the survey is that Malaysia’s middle class desires to be financially stable and healthy enough to be able to celebrate and experience life with their families. They are also pragmatic about how much wealth is needed for a comfortable retirement”.
Findings of the survey, which covered six ASEAN markets, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, in which AIA operates, were generally consistent across the region. It revealed that although a strong work ethic prevails in those markets, having good health is hands down the most important goal in life for the middle class in the six markets surveyed. Only 8 per cent cited becoming wealthy as their major life motivator.
“As a leading life insurer in Malaysia and across Asia-Pacific, AIA will continue to build on our extensive body of knowledge of the rising middle class in this region as we provide them with products and services tailored to support their needs and that of their loved ones as they go through life. As The Real Life Company, our role is to ensure our customers enjoy financial security and peace of mind,” Lisle said.
The survey provided interesting insights into the attitudes of Malaysia’s middle class towards quality of life, financial security, retirement, as well as family and education. Conducted in July 2014, the survey involved both online and face-to-face interviews with 500 self-identified middle-class respondents in Peninsular Malaysia.Financial Security
Key Findings from Malaysia include:
- Generally, Malaysia’s middle class have higher expectations on how much is needed to achieve financial security compared with other ASEAN markets surveyed, apart from Singapore; the majority believe that they need approximately RM1.5 million (US$480,000) in asset value to be financially secure.
- By contrast, on average, the middle class in Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia feel they need about RM360,000 (USD$110,000), RM864,000 (USD$264,000) and RM451,000 (USD$138,000) respectively.
- 53 per cent believe that financial security can be achieved in their life time while 47 per cent feel financial security is a never-ending pursuit.
On Family and Education
- Malaysia’s middle class have high aspirations for their children; of those surveyed, 95% either already have children or are planning to have children.
- 81% cite their children’s health as their highest priority, followed by their children having a good career (56%) and their general happiness (53%).
- Malaysian middle-class parents have high expectations for their children’s education with 91% wishing for their children to attain tertiary education and a further 37% hoping that their children will achieve post-graduate qualifications.
- 96% of the parents surveyed revealed that they save about RM560 (USD$175) per month for their children’s education.
- 22% who are currently working full-time said that they would want to become stay-at-home parents, which is one of the highest in the region.
The Retirement Challenge
- Saving for retirement is considered a serious challenge with 33% citing enjoying a comfortable retirement as the most difficult goal to achieve in life. Some 53% are worried that they will not be able to save enough for a comfortable retirement. The average amount that Malaysia’s middle class desires to have for retirement is RM1.9 million (USD$583,380).
- To achieve their retirement plans, the middle-class respondents indicated a variety of investment instruments including contributing to a regular retirement plan (70%), investing in the stock market (70%), real estate (61%) and contributing to a regular savings account (50%).
- Further to the retirement challenge, there is an expectation that future generations will continue to be caretakers of their families. The majority (73%) of Malaysia’s middle-class respondents believe that children should be responsible for financially supporting their parents in their old age. 57% of the respondents are currently supporting their own and/or their spouse’s parents.
This year, AIA introduced the AIA Middle Class Index (MCI) which measures respondents’ sentiments toward ten aspects of life situations. All markets surveyed record MCI scores above 50, indicating a positive expectation that their life situations will improve over the next 12 months. Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines lead with MCI at 77.1, 70.9 and 70.6 respectively. MCI scores for Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are 55.6, 60.5 and 63.3 respectively. Across all surveyed markets, respondents tend to agree that family life would be the situation that is most likely to improve (with an index of 72.4) over the next year.