Few Austrians own shares

The vast majority of Austrians have no interest in stocks, according to research.

Pollster Imas found that 75 per cent of residents of the country had no intention to acquire shares. The survey also shows that just 13 per cent of Austrians hold participations in companies via shares and investment funds. The figure resembles results of another poll recently conducted in Germany. Stock market experts pointed out that 23 per cent of Swedes owned shares.

Stock market trading representatives and analysts said a lack of knowledge was to blame for the low number of Austrian shareholders. They also criticised the coalition of Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) for introducing a 25 per cent tax on stock exchange profits. The levy was implemented among various other measures at the beginning of this year. Several banks sued the government over the measure to get rid of the tax. Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG) chiefs branded the new levy as “poison” for the Austrian city as a place for trading.

Imas, which spoke with more than 4,000 Austrians, found that most (54 per cent) of shareholders acquired their first stocks before their 40th birthday. Seven per cent even did so before having turned 20, according to the Linz-based research group. Imas explained the probability of a purchase rapidly falls as people get older. Well-educated young men living in urban areas are most likely to show interest in the acquisition of shares, the Imas poll has found.

Austrians have mostly been investing their money in building loan systems and saving accounts, long-term figures show. GfK Austria announced in October that building loan systems were the most popular option as 50 per cent said they had such contracts or were considering starting one, followed by savings accounts (44 per cent) and investments in property (32 per cent). Twenty per cent of Austrians the agency interviewed said they could imagine spending parts of their savings on gold. Only seven per cent said the same in 2007.