Savings grow despite low interest rates

Savings across Irish households are increasing despite interest rates being at record lows, a national survey shows.

According to the Bank of Ireland/ESRI Savings and Investments Index, 49 per cent of people say they save regularly, compared with 44 per cent a year ago.

The proportion of people who do not save remains unchanged at one in three.

The savings environment index increased by 7 points to 100 last month, with 40 per cent of respondents feeling it was a good time to save. This compares with 38 per cent in September and 32 per cent a year ago.

According to the monthly survey, 32 per cent of Irish households indicate that they invest on a regular basis, which is lower than the proportion of households saving regularly at 49 per cent.

The most common investment made by households was in pension schemes at 29 per cent, with investment in shares and funds at 3 per cent.

Tom McCabe, global investment strategist at Bank of Ireland Private Banking, said: “The initial data on investing clearly show that we are more a nation of savers than investors. This may suggest a preference for capital security on savings compared to potentially higher returns from investments. The low interest rate environment remains a big challenge for Irish savers. Against this backdrop, it will be interesting to see if sentiment towards investing improves over the medium term.”

Investment activity was more prevalent among the younger demographic — those aged under 50 — and among those in managerial or professional occupations.

Despite the lower incidence of regular investment, 32 per cent of Irish people felt it was a good time to invest compared with 20 per cent who thought it was a bad time.