Survey finds Greeks invest conservatively

Greeks have become even more conservative in their investment choices, a survey by a German company, covering European countries and the USA, shows. The GfK Investment Barometer survey studied 16 countries, with a total sample of 13,176 individuals aged 18 to 64 (1,250 in Greece). In Greece – where the research was conducted by local subsidiary GfK Market Analysis – only 11 percent of respondents said that they had over 50,000 euros in the bank or invested in bonds, stocks, mutual funds, insurance or private pension funds (the survey excluded property investments). In the USA, 40 percent of the respondents fell into the same category, 31 percent in Switzerland and Belgium and 23 percent in the UK. Countries with lower percentages included the new EU members from Central and Eastern Europe, but also Austria, France and Germany. The survey’s main finding is that both European and American investors tend to favor low-risk investments even though they are aware that returns are lower. About half of the Western Europeans have short-term deposits; four out of 10 have invested in insurance or private pension funds and two in 10 in stocks or mutual funds. One in three do not invest anywhere (respondents could give multiple answers). In Greece, 60 percent of respondents prefer to deposit their money in bank accounts, compared to 53 percent in Western Europe, 40 percent in the United States and 24 percent in Central Europe. Also, 13 percent of Greeks invest in stocks, 15 percent in life insurance and 7 percent in private pension funds. Compared to a similar survey in 2003, the percentage of those who prefer bank deposits has increased, while the percentages of those who make other investments has declined. Americans are more likely to invest in stocks (19 percent), bonds (14 percent) and mutual funds (24 percent) than other respondents, but are less enthusiastic than in the past.