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Men More Likely to Dip into Retirement Savings during Tough Times

HSBC reveals gender gap in how Americans deal with financial hardship

24 July 2013

New York, NY - Nearly one third of men (31%) in the U.S. would consider dipping into their retirement funds to cope with tough times as a result of unforeseen life events, compared to just under a quarter of women (23%), according to HSBC's study, The Future of Retirement: A new reality.

Moving to a smaller house was just one of the alternative coping mechanisms explored by the report, revealing in this case another significant gap between the genders. The study found that only 14% of men in America would consider downsizing to deal with financial difficulty, compared with 26% of women.

The study also highlighted the financial strain that home ownership is placing on American consumers generally with 29% stating that buying a home or paying a mortgage has had a significant impact on their ability to save for retirement. A nearly equal amount (26%) said that becoming unemployed or getting into debt or severe financial hardship would present the same savings challenge.

Overall, the international survey of over 15,000 consumers in 15 global markets highlighted a significant appetite among respondents everywhere to dip into retirement savings when faced with financial hardship. However in contrast to several other markets most notably in Asia, it also found that the majority of Americans surveyed (51%) admitted to not being regular savers leaving many with little or no option but to resort to other, often more extreme measures.

According to the findings of the report, some 40% of Americans would consider tapping in to non-retirement based savings and investments if their financial situation demanded it, while just under a quarter (23%) would sell their valuables. Others would look to lending options to avoid parting with their assets; 14% would borrow money while 17% would ask family and friends for help.

Andrew Ireland, Head of Premier and Wealth, HSBC Bank USA, N.A., said: "Homes can be an emotive investment and people's unwillingness to unlock their equity during times of hardship is understandable. But unless people plan ahead, they may be faced with no alternative."

"Well-intentioned but erratic saving is understandable in the current economy, but may curb people's ability to cope with unforeseen events in their lives, like losing a job or falling ill. People need to take a new and more robust approach when it comes to financial planning. Regular saving will put them in a stronger position to cope with the unexpected, and help to maintain living standards later in life."

For more information about The Future of Retirement, and to view all previous global and country reports, visit

Note to editors:

HSBC's The Future of Retirement programme is a world-leading independent study into global retirement trends. It provides authoritative insights into the key issues associated with ageing populations and increasing life expectancy around the world. The latest global report, A new reality, is the eighth in the series and is based on an online survey of 15,866 people in 15 countries and territories. Since The Future of Retirement programme began in 2005, more than 125,000 people worldwide have been surveyed.

The markets surveyed in the latest FOR report are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, UAE, USA, UK

Cicero Consulting is a leading consultancy firm serving the banking, insurance and asset management sector, Cicero specialises in public policy consulting as well as global thought leadership and independent market research. Cicero was established in 2001 and now operates from offices in London, Brussels, Washington and Singapore.

As a market leader in pensions and retirement research, Cicero designed and analysed the research and wrote the report referenced in this release, with Mark Twigg as author and Paul Middleton as research director.

HSBC Holdings plc, the parent company of the HSBC Group, is headquartered in London. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 6,600 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North and Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa. With assets of US$2,681bn at 31 March 2013, the HSBC Group is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organisations.

HSBC Bank USA, National Association, with total assets of $183.9bn as of 31 March 2013 (US GAAP), serves 3 million customers through retail banking and wealth management, commercial banking, private banking, asset management, and global banking and markets segments. It operates more than 250 bank branches throughout the United States. There are over 165 in New York State as well as branches in: California; Connecticut; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Maryland; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Oregon; Virginia; and Washington State. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is the principal subsidiary of HSBC USA Inc., an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of HSBC North America Holdings Inc. HSBC Bank USA, N.A. is a member of the FDIC.

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