1 in 3 Singapore investors in debt, survey shows

Singapore has the third highest proportion of investors in debt among eight Asian markets polled in a new survey.

It found that 33 per cent owe money, excluding mortgages, while 46 per cent of indebted investors here are in the red for $10,000 or more in the form of personal or student loans or credit card debt.

Daily living expenses such as food, utilities and transport were the top contributor to their debt, they said, followed by discretionary expenses such as clothes, entertainment and travel.

"The lower costs of oil-related and retail items have been easing inflation in Singapore but this may not have been felt by Singapore investors yet," said insurer Manulife, which commissioned the survey.

It noted that more male investors were in debt than females. They also carried nearly double the average debt of $40,985 while female investors had average debt of $25,502.

The Manulife half-year survey is based on around 500 online interviews in each market - Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Those interviewed were middle-class to affluent investors, aged 25 years and above and with investment products.

Nearly 70 per cent of Singaporean investors in debt regret not planning their investments better. About 27 per cent regretted not being more proactive in reviewing their portfolio and 26 per cent felt they were holding too much money in cash instead of making more investments.

The lacklustre global economy has hit Singapore investor sentiment, which dropped eight points in the fourth quarter last year to 21 points, largely over concerns about China. But that is still a positive score, according to Manulife.

Most investors appear to be taking a wait-and-see approach towards China, with nearly 50 per cent saying they will avoid investing further in the country until its economy improves, and 43 per cent are uncertain over what is the best investment strategy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2016, with the headline '1 in 3 Singapore investors in debt, survey shows'. Print Edition | Subscribe