Household Stock Ownership in Select Countries

According to an article in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek,  44% of households in the U.S. owned shares of mutual funds in 2009. In Germany, only 9.4% of the population owned mutual fund shares in the first half of 2010.

Germans generally tend to be very conservative and avoid the stock markets. Only 6% of Germans directly owned stocks in the first half of this year. Compared to Germany, 15% of the French  and 10% of the British population own stocks.

Instead of equities, Germans have 28% of their assets invested in life insurance products. Like Germans, the French also prefer life insurance products. Next to cash and other liquid investments, the French stash away a large  portion of their retirement savings in life insurance products. Hence insurers such as AXA (OTC: AXAHY) have a strong leadership position in France. Last year AXA generated 25% of its insurance revenue in France. Allianz (OTC: AZSEY), one of the world’s largest insurance and asset management firms, is headquartered in Munich, Germany.

Some interesting facts from the Investment Company Institute:

“Total U.S. retirement assets were $16.0 trillion at year-end 2009, up nearly $2.0 trillion, or 14 percent, from year-end 2008.

At year-end 2009, retirement assets represented 35 percent of all U.S. households’ financial assets.

More than half of the $2.8 trillion in 401(k) assets at year-end 2009 was invested in mutual funds, primarily in stock funds.”

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