Singaporeans have to 'save longer for retirement'

Mr Colebrook says the HSBC report reveals a degree of tunnel vision among Singaporeans, with cash savings and property being their key investments of choice - often at the exclusion of almost any other asset class.
Mr Colebrook says the HSBC report reveals a degree of tunnel vision among Singaporeans, with cash savings and property being their key investments of choice - often at the exclusion of almost any other asset class.

HSBC poll also finds working-age people must start saving earlier

Hit by the rising cost of living, workers in Singapore have to save nine years longer for an adequate retirement compared with previous generations.

An HSBC report released yesterday shows that the average Singaporean starts saving for retirement at age 32 and continues for a further 29 years. This is nine years more than their predecessors, who saved an average of 20 years, starting later, at the age of 39.

Despite the longer period and earlier start, 41 per cent of current working-age Singaporeans wish they had started to save earlier - and more than one-third or 38 per cent have stopped saving altogether owing to various difficulties.

Mr Matthew Colebrook, head of retail banking and wealth management, HSBC Bank Singapore, said: "The unfortunate causality of a rising cost of living is that people nowadays are having to save further and for longer than their predecessors. Unfortunately, in many instances, life events are also getting in the way of setting aside money earlier or in a consistent manner."

The Future Of Retirement: Generations And Journeys report is based on the views of more than 18,000 people in 17 countries, including a total of 1,008 Singaporeans, both working age and retired.

The survey also finds that Singaporeans are predominantly using cash savings, supplemented by day-to-day salary and a property downsize to fund their retirement.

The report shows that 21 per cent of Singaporeans - compared with the global average of just 6 per cent - expect to downsize or sell a property to help them to fund their retirement.

According to the survey, 60 per cent of working-age Singaporeans expect to draw on cash savings to fund their retirement. A further 40 per cent highlight that they will continue to work, with 12 per cent saying they rely on government pension schemes.

Mr Colebrook said: "The report reveals a degree of tunnel vision among Singaporeans, with cash savings and property being the key investments of choice - often at the exclusion of almost any other asset class. But all asset classes' performance will rise and fall, as the current softening of the Singapore property market and low deposit rate environment show us. This speaks volumes for why it is important to seek diversification in a savings plan."

Lack of information on retirement may potentially be one of the reasons why working-age Singaporeans have not started planning for their retirement, said HSBC.

According to its survey, 26 per cent of pre-retirees in Singapore say they have never received advice or information about retirement. Findings also show that 23 per cent of pre-retirees have not started saving (on par with global average of 24 per cent), including 10 per cent aged 60 or over.

Mr Colebrook added: "While Singaporeans are savvy savers in general, they may not have the relevant knowledge to help them start saving or consider investment options in order to sustain the lifestyle they had before retirement."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans have to 'save longer for retirement''. Print Edition | Subscribe