A global study by HSBC Life – the HSBC Group’s insurance business – highlights the critical role that resilience played to shape a positive outlook and greater confidence in reaching long-term goals during a challenging year that has seen a rise in stress levels, particularly fueled by financial uncertainty.
Launched in 2021 and conducted again this year, the +Factor Study by HSBC Life had surveyed over 18,000 participants aged 18 to 80 across Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK. This year, the study found that people are now more worried about their financial situation (46% vs 41% last year). Saving enough for retirement, the economic impact of the pandemic and paying for medical bills caused by illness rose in importance across markets as health concerns from Covid-19 took a back seat.
Despite higher stress levels, physical, mental and financial resilience improved in 2022 as respondents paid more attention to a healthier, balanced lifestyle, social interactions and financial planning. The study found that respondents with high resilience levels in all three dimensions are likely to improve general well-being.
Greg Hingston, CEO, Global Insurance and Partnerships, HSBC Life, commented: “The interconnection between mental, financial and physical dimensions is clear. When one dimension improves, the others follow. When physical, mental and financial health are all addressed, there is a compounding effect. Together they bring confidence in achieving goals, greater happiness and satisfaction with the overall quality of life. Resilience drives well-being.”
People are responding to a post-pandemic world in various ways: using digital tools more often, getting more exercise, managing their mental well-being and planning their financial priorities.
In Mainland China, the biggest behavioural shift was physical with 50% of respondents saying they are paying more attention to hygiene and exercise; while Singapore (42%) and Hong Kong residents (45%) stated they now lead more digital lives and are embracing remote working norms. In the UK, the biggest change was in mental health (35%) with a greater focus on mental health management, more activities on relaxation such as yoga or meditation to keep calm.
With the economic uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, respondents across markets have more robust investment planning and budget control. They also utilise digital financial tools to manage their finance and spending.
People continued to pay attention to a healthier and balanced lifestyle with 61% agreeing that passing on healthy habits is more important than passing on wealth.
Resilience leads to a more confident and happy life
The study defines resilience as the ability to adapt, overcome and recover from mental, physical and financial stress and challenges. Higher resilience levels drive confidence in achieving goals, bring greater happiness (positivity, sense of belonging and purpose) and increased satisfaction in life. For example, 82% of individuals with high physical resilience are more confident to reach their goals versus 20% with low physical resilience. Four-fifths of people with high financial resilience said they are satisfied with their quality of life, the top determinant for happiness, compared with 22% of those with low financial resilience.
Respondents showed the strongest confidence, happiness and resilience levels. However, even as physical and financial health improved, mental health took a hit. Financial situation, family responsibilities, a lack of leisure time and a demanding job were cited as top barriers for those with low mental health levels. Respondents noted that a support network is a key driver for mental resilience.
In Hong Kong, confidence (71 score) and happiness (68 score) levels increased over the previous year, despite posting the highest levels of stress (68 score) caused by work/employment uncertainty. People are most concerned about their financial situation (75%) with only around a third of respondents noting that their high financial resilience was a result of better financial habits, confidence in using financial products/services and having a retirement plan, a legacy plan and/or children’s education fund.
Singaporeans stated they are more worried about being diagnosed with a critical illness (32%) and the financial burden placed on family members should they need to take care of them. Setting goals for yourself and confidence in using financial products and services are key drivers for mental and financial resilience, respectively.
Being happy and staying positive (66%) were top motivators for mental resilience. When it comes to financial resilience, being able to manage finances for a rainy day or retirement (48%) is cited as the biggest motivator. In view of this and with 91% of respondents saying they would first compare financial products before making purchasing decisions and 90% saying they would first understand the product features, benefits and potential risks, it is not surprising that 80% of them are confident enough to choose the financial products that suit their needs.
Resilient individuals are problem-solvers and planners
Across the markets, there was consensus about the building blocks for resilience. Highly resilient individuals anticipate and plan, are problem solvers, stay active and have better financial habits.
Higher resilience levels are also bolstered by having protection, for example owning an insurance policy (life protection, medical/critical illness and financial planning) compared to those with lower resilience.
Greg added, “This year, the lack of short- and long-term financial security is among the biggest stressors for people. But our +Factor survey shows that good planning with clear actions, goals and shifts in behaviour build a strong foundation for overall resilience and holistic well-being. As a leading global bancassurer, we’re boosting our health, wealth and protection capabilities while promoting financial education to enhance mental, physical and financial fitness and help customers manage life’s uncertainties and achieve sustainable prosperity.”
A report of the of 2022 key global findings is available to download here.