A little over half of the American Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) community feels confident in reaching their retirement goals, a recent JPMorgan Chase survey reveals. Although this percentage is slightly ahead of the general market, the results demonstrate the ways in which culture can influence investment decisions.
The survey gathered data from people aged 18-65 who currently have a retirement account in an effort to better understand how Asian and Pacific Islanders feel about their retirement plans and what barriers they may be facing. While 65% of AAPI survey respondents have over $80,000 in household income – compared to 49% of the general market – many are uncertain they will reach their retirement goals.
When asked about their attitude toward their own retirement savings plans, 56% of AAPI respondents said they felt confident, compared to the nearly equivalent 55% of the general market. When broken down further, however, Filipino and Korean participants reported feeling less confident, at 49% and 35%, respectively. In contrast, Other Asian and Indian respondents felt markedly more confident about their retirement savings plans than the general market and the average Asian respondent, at 63% and 68%, respectively.
“AAPI communities are too often lumped together as a monolithic group. But the diversity of different cultures, histories and experience is too vast to simplify under this label,” said Vivian Young, Global Head of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs for JPMorgan Chase. “This data demonstrates that we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to investment advice. Each culture has their own views on financial security and retirement readiness.”
In the U.S., the AAPI community has almost doubled in size over the past two decades, from 11.9 million in 2000 to over 24 million in 2021.1 A diverse community in terms of income, ethnicity, language and education, by 2060, that number is expected to climb to 46 million.2
“The data reflects the immigrant story,” said Young, who is of Filipino descent. “Prior to 1965, immigration was severely restricted, based on a National Origins formula that limited the number of people allowed to enter the country.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 19653 replaced the exclusive quota with a system based on skills, family reunification or people facing political persecution. Many people began their journey to the United States in the 1970s and later, which ultimately translates today to almost 70% of Asian Americans being foreign born.
There are approximately 24 million Asian Americans total, but six origin groups account for over 80%. The survey chose to focus on the majority comprising Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, allowing us to understand how attitudes toward retirement differ across ethnic and cultural lines.
Yet, some common threads seem to emerge from the results.
Of those who responded as not feeling confident in their retirement savings, reasons cited by AAPI participants do not differ substantially from broader sentiments in the general population. For many investors, regardless of race or community, the current macroeconomic volatility has been troublesome and has eroded retirement savings across the board.
Reasons AAPI respondents cited for their lack of confidence were:
AAPI respondents reported contributing an average of 11% of their income to retirement, yet almost half do not feel they are contributing enough to make their retirement goals. For the AAPI respondents with an employer-sponsored retirement account with employer matching, only a third contribute the maximum amount that they are allowed each year.
AAPI survey respondents prefer to make their own investment decisions and invest in individual stocks and mutual funds. Compared to 56% of the general market, 71% of AAPI respondents reported as preferring self-directed accounts.
More than 30% get their information from websites and online articles and 29% rely on social media or family. To boot, this segment expressed less interest in advisor-led assistance. But without advisor guidance and with a preference for choosing individual stocks rather than diversified vehicles such as ETFs, investing can prove difficult. Investing in singular stocks does not offer the benefits of diversification – i.e. as much exposure to the possibility to earn returns on a broad range of stocks.
“Many immigrants, including myself, were self-educated about investing,” said Young. “The need to be self-sufficient is reflected in the desire to make independent investment decisions and choose self-directed accounts.”
While self-directed investing can be an optimal investing option, a financial professional can create a plan to help clients achieve their long-term goals.
Family emerged as a significant influence on retirement planning for AAPI respondents.
Nearly half of AAPI retirement account holders surveyed said they involve their spouse/partner in their retirement decisions and 19% reported parents being an influencing factor.
Additionally, AAPI respondents reported being significantly more likely to have goals of savings for their children’s education and supporting elderly family members.
Indian respondents, in particular, reported as the most family focused when it comes to finances. Of those surveyed, Indian respondents were the least likely to make retirement decisions alone and the most likely to include spouses, parents and even siblings in their decision making. Saving for retirement is important because they want to have something to pass on to their family. The Indian subgroup reported the highest level of confidence regarding retirement.
Members of all communities, including the AAPI community, should feel empowered and confident to use the tools that financial institutions – including J.P. Morgan – have available to benefit their financial plans and futures as much as possible.
“We can do better for the AAPI community,” said Young. “This is the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. We can help by delivering the tools, education and resources to help AAPI individuals make better decisions and drive better outcomes.”
The findings from the survey reveal several takeaways to help improve how AAPI individuals approach investing:
JPMorgan Chase is committed to serving the AAPI community. Through our Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs – a diversity, equity and inclusion Center of Excellence – we are creating opportunities for Asian and Pacific Islanders to build their financial futures – no matter when they are starting.
Pew Research Center, “What it means to be Asian in America.” (August 2022)
Pew Research Center, “Key facts about Asian Americans, a diverse and growing population.” (April 2021)
History, Art & Archives – United States House of Representatives, “Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.”
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