How Investment Goals Vary by Country and Age
It goes without saying that investors want to see their money grow.
However, it turns out that why investors want their money to grow changes considerably, depending on who you are talking to.
Investment Goals by Geography
Today’s infographic from Raconteur first shows why people invest based on country of residence.
In the following table, we’ll show selected data to illustrate an interesting contrast between North American, Asian, and European cultures:
|Country||Primary Investing Goal||Percentage|
|Canada||Saving for retirement||78%|
|USA||Saving for retirement||71%|
|UK||Saving for retirement||71%|
|Hong Kong||Saving for retirement||48%|
|Germany||Saving for retirement||40%|
|France||Saving for retirement||27%|
|UAE||Saving to start a business||31%|
|China||Beneficiaries / estate planning||42%|
In Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, saving for retirement is the primary investment goal for 70% or more of all respondents. However, in Europe and Asia, there is a much wider diversity of investment goals.
In Germany and France, for example, close to a quarter of respondents mentioned that saving for an emergency was their primary goal, behind saving for retirement. Meanwhile, in the UAE and in China, the primary investment goal was not retirement – it was instead saving to start a business (UAE) and setting up family and/or beneficiaries for success (China).
Goals by Generation
It’s not just geographical boundaries, the level of economic development, and the local culture that impacts investment goals.
Another factor is generational: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials are at very different stages of life, and each generation has their own quirky preferences, anyway.
|Statement (I want to…)||Highest Agreeance||Lowest agreeance|
|Make sure money is safe||Boomers||Millennials|
|Preserve as much wealth as possible||Boomers||Millennials|
|Pass on wealth to my heirs and others||Millennials||Gen Xers|
|Ensure I have funds to pay for important events||Millennials||Boomers|
|Invest at the lowest cost possible||Boomers||Gen Xers|
|Have the best advice possible and am willing to pay||Millennials||Boomers|
|Retire early||Gen Xers||Boomers|
|Not miss out on market opportunities||Gen Xers||Boomers|
|Choose riskier investments to build wealth fast||Millennials||Boomers|
Not surprisingly, as people get older, their goals shift away from making immediate big-ticket purchases, and holding riskier investments for a higher rate of return. Later on in life, goals are more focused on retirement and maximizing wealth.
That said, there are some anomalies in the above data that are interesting.
For example, Millennials – not Baby Boomers – are most concerned about building wealth to pass onto their heirs. Finally, it is the Millennials that are willing to pay the most for investment advice, in order to get the best possible result.
Recession Risk: Which Sectors are Least Vulnerable?
We show the sectors with the lowest exposure to recession risk—and the factors that drive their performance.
Recession Risk: Which Sectors are Least Vulnerable?
In the context of a potential recession, some sectors may be in better shape than others.
They share several fundamental qualities, including:
- Less cyclical exposure
- Lower rate sensitivity
- Higher cash levels
- Lower capital expenditures
With this in mind, the above chart looks at the sectors most resilient to recession risk and rising costs, using data from Allianz Trade.
Recession Risk, by Sector
As slower growth and rising rates put pressure on corporate margins and the cost of capital, we can see in the table below that this has impacted some sectors more than others in the last year:
|Sector||Margin (p.p. change)
|🏡 Household Equipment||-0.9|
|🚗 Automotive Manufacturers||-1.1|
|🏭 Machinery & Equipment||-1.1|
|🖥️ Computers & Telecom||-2.0|
*Percentage point changes 2021- 2022.
Generally speaking, the retail sector has been shielded from recession risk and higher prices. In 2023, accelerated consumer spending and a strong labor market has supported retail sales, which have trended higher since 2021. Consumer spending makes up roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy.
Sectors including chemicals and pharmaceuticals have traditionally been more resistant to market turbulence, but have fared worse than others more recently.
In theory, sectors including construction, metals, and automotives are often rate-sensitive and have high capital expenditures. Yet, what we have seen in the last year is that many of these sectors have been able to withstand margin pressures fairly well in spite of tightening credit conditions as seen in the table above.
What to Watch: Corporate Margins in Perspective
One salient feature of the current market environment is that corporate profit margins have approached historic highs.
As the above chart shows, after-tax profit margins for non-financial corporations hovered over 14% in 2022, the highest post-WWII. In fact, this trend has been increasing over the past two decades.
According to a recent paper, firms have used their market power to increase prices. As a result, this offset margin pressures, even as sales volume declined.
Overall, we can see that corporate profit margins are higher than pre-pandemic levels. Sectors focused on essential goods to the consumer were able to make price hikes as consumers purchased familiar brands and products.
Adding to stronger margins were demand shocks that stemmed from supply chain disruptions. The auto sector, for example, saw companies raise prices without the fear of diminishing market share. All of these factors have likely built up a buffer to help reduce future recession risk.
Sector Fundamentals Looking Ahead
How are corporate metrics looking in 2023?
In the first quarter of 2023, S&P 500 earnings fell almost 4%. It was the second consecutive quarter of declining earnings for the index. Despite slower growth, the S&P 500 is up roughly 15% from lows seen in October.
Yet according to an April survey from the Bank of America, global fund managers are overwhelmingly bearish, highlighting contradictions in the market.
For health care and utilities sectors, the vast majority of companies in the index are beating revenue estimates in 2023. Over the last 30 years, these defensive sectors have also tended to outperform other sectors during a downturn, along with consumer staples. Investors seek them out due to their strong balance sheets and profitability during market stress.
|S&P 500 Sector||Percent of Companies With Revenues Above Estimates (Q1 2023)|
|Real Estate ||81%|
Cyclical sectors, such as financials and industrials tend to perform worse. We can see this today with turmoil in the banking system, as bank stocks remain sensitive to interest rate hikes. Making matters worse, the spillover from rising rates may still take time to materialize.
Defensive sectors like health care, staples, and utilities could be less vulnerable to recession risk. Lower correlation to economic cycles, lower rate-sensitivity, higher cash buffers, and lower capital expenditures are all key factors that support their resilience.
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