Nearly six out of 10 (56%) of wealth creators are set to fall short of their wealth aspirations by half or more. Asena Degirmenci speaks to Standard Chartered on the wealth expectancy gap in 10 major markets.

Individuals wealth aspirations far exceed their wealth expectancy, or their total net wealth by age 60. The report investigated the saving and investment habits of 10,000 emerging affluent, affluent, and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) across 10 fast-growing economies, including China, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the UAE.

On average, the wealth expectancy of the three wealth creator groups is $1,088,000. Although $1m appears to be a significant sum, wealth creators are aspiring for more by the time they reach retirement.

All three of the wealth creator groups have a wealth aspiration that exceeds their wealth expectancy, resulting in a wealth expectancy gap. Most wealth creators will in turn become disappointed by the value they are set to accumulate at their peak wealth.


Across the 10 markets that were surveyed, individuals are living longer and are having higher aspirations of an ever-increasing cost of living.

Speaking to PBI, Standard Chartered’s global head of retail products and segments, Fernando Morillo, said: “What surprised us was not that there was a wealth expectancy gap, but rather the magnitude of the gap. The results clearly signal that people need to start planning sooner and better to make their money work harder.

“Nearly six in 10 people are facing a gap of 50% or more, which means their savings will only take them half way through their aspirational retirement. Broadly this means that people would only be able to maintain their desired retirement lifestyle for 12 years after retirement, or up to 72 years old, yet the average life expectancy has increased to 83. Being able to quantify the gap like this helps both savers and financial advisers better understand what steps need to be taken to address it.”

Although the challenge is less prevalent among the HNWIs, with less than five in 10 facing a wealth gap of 50% or more. Despite identifying as high net worth, wealth creators are becoming more aware that they may not able to afford the lifestyles they aspire to have in the future.

According to Morillo, most wealth creators are already investing to some degree and they are now keen to understand how to make their money work even harder by looking at their wealth management strategies more holistically, and also a wider range of investment solutions that are aligned to their risk profiles.

Global Gap

The smallest wealth expectancy gap is in china, with four in 10 wealth creators (44%) meeting or coming close to their wealth aspiration. The small gap is motivated by high levels of statutory pensions, as well as China’s wealth creators putting 48% of their monthly income into savings — the highest of the markets in the study.

Attitudes and priorities vary in the South and South East Asia region. Indian wealth creators are future-focused and using digital financial products to boost their financial security. Pakistan is more successful at closing the wealth expectancy gap and being the most likely to prioritise helping their community and family to achieve a good quality of life. Malaysian wealth creators’ wealth expectancy gap is the lowest on account of a high level of statutory pensions.  Their limited use of professional wealth management advice may be impacting to reduce the gap further. In Singapore, the emerging are also facing this issue.

The UAE has one of the lowest wealth expectancy gaps, due to high statutory pensions. Wealth creators in this region show a tendency to focus financial decisions on the present, with financial security as their most important goal. In Kenya, wealth creators are more likely to start or fund a new business and have a larger wealth expectancy gap than the average in the study.


There are a few key challenges posed in preventing the expectancy gap.

Morillo said: “[The] first is that people tend to under-estimate the importance of planning for their financial future. This is turn leads to people not starting to plan and invest as early as they should.

“The second challenge is to do with knowledge and access. What we’re seeing is that most people lack diversity in their portfolios and rely primarily use savings accounts to grow their wealth. This potentially puts them at a disadvantage as the returns on these savings after inflation can often be disappointing compared to investments.”

According to Morillo, people would use additional investment products if they had a better level of financial knowledge so banks play a critical role when it comes to education and advice. One of the first steps in preventing the gap is by getting objective personalised advice from an adviser to understand how to reach your aspirational wealth.

He adds: “With the right advice, investors can be better placed to access the most relevant solutions available in the industry, aligned to their risk profile, goals, and the time horizons they are looking to meet.

“When it comes to access, digital solutions play a huge role. Our research showed that 61% believe the ability to manage investments online is giving them additional confidence to invest in products they wouldn’t have considered previously. Combined with expert advice, easy and convenient digital solutions, help people broaden their investment horizons and grow their wealth for greater financial freedom.”

Future Outlook

Many individuals are prepared to outlive their savings. One of the larger concern is looking at how society can plan for the needs of an ageing population.

Morillo said: “The external factors contributing to the wealth expectancy gap will remain. With modern technology and medicine, people’s lifespans will grow, the cost of living will continue to increase and, as they build their wealth, people’s aspirations will also rise. But it’s not all doom and gloom, if people start early and plan their finances and investments wisely, the retirement lifestyles they aspire to are certainly within reach.

“Banks can play a key role in helping individuals recognise the challenges they may face and equip them to make better financial decisions and provide access to the solutions they need to achieve their aspirations.”