A little more risk-taking could increase the emerging affluent Indians’ savings by nearly 50%

For a little more joy.
For a little more joy.
Image: Reuters/Danish Ismail
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A small tweak in the savings and investment habits of Indians could result in big returns for them.

Taking on a little risk could increase the savings of India’s “emerging affluent” class by some 48%, according to a study by the Standard Chartered Bank. The study surveyed 1,000 Indians in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Jaipur with a gross monthly household income of between Rs80,000 and Rs200,000. “The emerging affluent are consumers who are earning enough to start saving—and investing—and that’s what makes them a crucial engine of economic growth,” according to the bank. The survey was conducted during November and December 2016. 

The study found that if these individuals switched from basic investment avenues like savings bank accounts and fixed deposits—in which Indians have for decades parked their money—to relatively high-risk options in wealth management and mutual funds (MFs) or fixed income, then over a 10-year period, their savings will grow by 48%.

“While the emerging affluent are ‘active’ savers, with two in three putting money aside every month, a majority is using basic products—savings accounts and fixed-term deposits—to reach their financial goals,” Standard Chartered said in a press release.

Fixed deposits—considered the safest investment option—give an annual return of anywhere between 6.25% and 7.75%, depending on the bank. On the other hand, riskier options like stocks or MFs linked to equity markets promise much higher returns. For instance, India’s top MFs gave returns of between 25% and 35% in financial year 2017. However, MF penetration is low in Asia’s third-largest economy. Assets under management are around 12% of the GDP compared to the global average of 55%.

Here’s where the respondents of the survey invest their savings:

Meanwhile, in India, respondents from all age-groups surveyed (25-33 years, 35-44 year, 44-55 years) said their top priority was their children’s education. In other countries that the study covered—China, Hong Kong, Kenya, Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan—this was a priority for only the 35-44-year-olds.

Lastly, Indian millennials continue to carry forward their country’s love for cash. Some 19% of those surveyed by Standard Chartered kept their savings at home in cash. The figure was an average 11% in all other countries. Only one country trumped India in this regard: neighbouring Pakistan, with 55%.