The average amount Belgians added per year over the past 20 years in financial assets (savings, investments and pensions) was €2,380. Added up, Belgians have the second most financial assets at their disposal after the Dutch. This is according to our report on private financial assets in the nine main EU countries.

The differences are stark. On average, Dutch people gained €3,590 over the past 20 years. Portugal is last with an average of €880. The overall conclusion is that private households have managed to almost double their financial assets (savings, investments and pensions) over the past 20 years. Despite the crises that occurred such as the financial crisis, de Covid-19 crisis and now the war in Ukraine, among others. To be clear, the value of home ownership or other property was not included in the study. 

graph-financial-assets

The graph shows the amount and increase of private financial assets by country. Our researchers distinguish and compare two periods, namely from 2004 to 2014 (blue) and from 2014 to 2023 (white). In the case of Belgium, it is clear to see that over the past 10 years, the growth of additional money was relatively lagging compared to the previous 10 years.

The report shows that extra money for households grows in two ways:

  • by revenues (such as interest, dividends or appreciation of securities)
  • by saving extra money.
The Netherlands and Finland are champions in the first category. Germany and Austria are mostly of the extra savings. Our survey shows that in Belgium, investing has gained considerable ground over the past decade.

Looking at the nominal value of private financial assets accumulated in the EU over the past decade, 80% of the return was lost to inflation. In Austria and Germany, real returns were even negative. In the period 2004-2014, the loss of value was much less, but still 55%.

Johan Geeroms, our Director Risk Underwriting Benelux: "Over the longer term, investing yields much more than saving but you also have to deal with more violent fluctuations. Like in 2022, for example. In that year, a lot of investment returns were lost. If you then also take a hit of 10% inflation due to the war in Ukraine and problems in supply chains, then things go equally hard in the wrong direction."

Such volatility is a logical consequence of the stock markets where assets are parked. There is a greater chance of good years and bad years. Over the longer term, the Dutch and Finns have made so much more return than traditional savers like Germany and Austria. I see no reason to believe that will be different in the future. Green and digital transformations require a lot of capital. If new generations respond well to this, there is a real chance that they will perform even better than if their predecessors."

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