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New HSBC Direct 'ASK' Survey Shows Active Savers Better Prepared to Weather the Storm

19 May 2009

Research indicates long-term savings approach is proving effective during economic downturn.

Mettawa, IL - A survey released by online banking business HSBC Direct sheds light on 'Active Savers'—a segment of the U.S. population whose deep seated desire to save for the long-term is proving an effective approach in the economic downturn and whose behavior offers some important lessons for many Americans hoping to weather the current financial storm. Research suggests Active Savers currently constitute approximately 22 percent of the total U.S. adult online population.

The research, from HSBC Direct ASK (Active Saver Know-How) Research Panel, set out to identify some of the key attitudes and practices that underlie Active Savers' successful financial management and uncovered several key differences between this group and the rest of the population.

According to Kevin Martin, EVP of Personal Financial Services, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., "This survey reveals why some Americans appear better at saving than others and illustrates the sort of behavior and attitudes that could help many U.S. consumers manage their long-term finances more effectively."

Some better prepared than others

Active Savers—a group characterized by their commitment to saving money on an ongoing basis, taking a disciplined approach to spending and managing debt in a responsible manner—appear far better prepared for today's economic uncertainties than others who may save money only for emergencies or, more frequently, not save at all. The survey revealed:

  • As proof of their savings savvy, most Active Savers have not had to take drastic measures to adapt to uncertain financial times and are less likely to have had to cut back on spending, eating out and making large purchases.
  • Just 28 percent of Active Savers feel that curbing expenses would most improve their current financial situation. As a result, nearly one-half (46 percent) remain comfortable with their current financial situation.

Current savings mindset may not last when economy recovers

The HSBC Direct ASK study found that most Americans are taking steps right now to emulate Active Savers—85 percent have modified their savings and spending habits as a result of the current economic climate. However, 76 percent of people believe that once the situation improves, everyone is going to return to their old ways.

This research therefore provides a timely and useful learning opportunity for those trying to save more for the longer term and develop better saving habits.

Saving is a learned behavior

For more than half (57 percent) of Active Savers, learning to save started at a young age. Putting money away is a value their parents instilled into them (73 percent). Consequently, among the Active Savers who use direct deposit, 58 percent put more than 10 percent of their income into a retirement or savings account on a regular basis. When they receive additional income, such as a bonus or cash gift, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) set aside more then 25 percent into savings.

Saving as a state of mind

When consumers are asked why they save, it is also evident that Active Savers have a unique perspective. While retirement was most frequently ranked as the number one reason among all respondents in the ASK study, Active Savers were even more likely to choose it (77 percent of Active Savers versus 65 percent of the study's other respondents). A second motivating factor for the Active Saver is "an added sense of security" in their daily lives, rather than out of fear of an (unforeseen) emergency.

Think about your long-term well being

For Active Savers, saving is an ongoing process and not just an end in itself. While Active Savers may have plans for their savings, they save for the sake of saving, whereas non-Active Savers are more likely to save money to make a big purchase. For example, 18 percent of Active Savers versus 30 percent of non-Active Savers say they regularly put money aside for a vacation.

HSBC Direct plans to monitor these saver trends throughout 2009.

Note to editors


The HSBC Direct Active Savers Know-how (ASK) research was conducted online April 14-15, 2009 among a sample of 1,000 adults in the United States, 500 of which qualify as Active Savers. Active Savers constitute approximately 22 percent of the total U.S. online population. 
For a copy of the research, please contact HSBC Public Affairs (contact info above). 

About HSBC Direct

HSBC Direct Deposit Accounts are offered by HSBC Bank USA, N.A. Member FDIC. Deposits are insured to the maximum permitted by law. For more information or to open an HSBC Direct online savings account, visit

About HSBC Bank USA, N.A.

HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA, Inc. It has more than 470 bank branches throughout the United States, with over 380 in New York State. The Bank also operates in Florida, California, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut and Virginia.

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