Majority of savers in the world's fastest-growing economies set to miss their retirement goals by 50%

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When it comes to preparing for retirement, many of us know that we could be doing more.

But now a new report has highlighted the extent of that shortcoming, with the majority of savers set to miss their retirement goals by at least 50%.

Standard Chartered, in its inaugural "Wealth Expectancy Report 2019," found that 56% of people in 10 of the world's fastest-growing economies have retirement goals around twice the size of their likely pension pots at age 60.

The findings highlight a sweeping mismatch in the current workforce's spending aspirations and the level of wealth they will realistically accrue over their careers, the bank said.

To calculate the results, Standard Chartered surveyed 10,000 so-called wealth creators — those with disposal income to save and invest — to find out the amount of money they believe they'd need to retire comfortably. That figure was taken as their "wealth aspiration." It then used economic modelling to determine their likely "wealth expectation" at age 60 based on their salary and other assets.

The resultant mismatch, dubbed the "wealth expectancy gap," was found to be deep and pervasive across the 10 fast-growing economies studied: China, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

The respondents were divided into three groups: emerging affluent, or those with enough money to "spend, save and invest"; the affluent, or those who earn significantly above the average in their market; and high net worth individuals (HNWI), or those with investable assets over $1 million.

While the wealth expectancy gap was highest among the emerging affluent — 62% of whom were forecast to fall below their wealth aspirations — the gap was apparent across all wealth brackets.

Among the affluent, the gap was 53% while for the HNWIs it was 46%.

Standard Chartered's Fernando Morillo, global head of retail products and segments, told CNBC Make It the findings demonstrate that financial behaviors, more than incomes, impact wealth outcomes.

Bridging the wealth expectancy gap

Though wealth creators across the 10 markets were taking steps to set money aside for their retirement, Morillo noted that many may not be using the most effective means to grow their wealth.

According to the report, 59% of people rely primarily on savings accounts to achieve their top financial goals, while just 37% invest in stocks or equities.

"Most people primarily use savings accounts to grow their wealth," said Morillo. "This potentially puts them at a disadvantage as the 'real' returns on these savings after inflation can often be disappointing compared to investments in the long run."

To counter that, Morillo encouraged savers to diversify their money across a variety of investment solutions.

"By diversifying their wealth across various investment solutions, people have the potential to generate better risk-adjusted returns, putting you on the path to financial freedom," Morillo said.

Savers should, of course, be aware of the possible downside risks of investing. But Morillo noted that the growing availability of online wealth managers has made it easier than ever to get access to free advice that suits individuals' long-term goals.

"Investing is unavoidable if you want to grow your wealth; the crux is taking risks that you are comfortable with. Again, a financial advisor can help people better understand their risk appetite and achieve a portfolio allocation with the right balance between risk and return," he said.

Regional breakdown

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Here's how the stats breakdown across the 10 markets.

Greater China and North Asia

The wealth expectancy gap was at its lowest in China, where 44% of wealth creators were on track to meet their wealth aspirations.

Indeed, wealth accumulation was a high priority for respondents in China, who put an average of 48% of their monthly income into savings — the highest proportion across the study.

Despite enjoying a high wealth expectancy, respondents in Hong Kong saw a greater disconnect with their aspirations. Meanwhile, high living costs in South Korea and Taiwan weighed on people's wealth expectations.

South and Southeast Asia

After China, Malaysia enjoyed the second-lowest wealth expectancy gap, thanks in part to high statutory pensions. However, as in Singapore, limited use of wealth management advice hampered overall wealth accumulation.

Elsewhere, in India the wealth gap remained high despite a growing use of digital financial products. Meanwhile, respondents in Pakistan showed strong signs of narrowing their wealth expectancy gap but a high tendency to distribute wealth to family members.

Africa and the Middle East

The United Arab Emirates displayed one of the lowest wealth expectancy gaps in the study, again due to high statutory pensions. However, the report also noted a tendency among respondents to focus on near-term financial goals.

Wealth creators in Kenya, on the other hand, demonstrated a significant wealth expectancy gap because of low pensions and a general preference to invest in entrepreneurship over retirement.

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