Saving for a rainy day, with a little help from banks

In a heartening development, more corporations are striving to make a positive impact on the well-being of the community - all the more laudable as the efforts go beyond any regulatory requirements. These range from promoting health awareness to green campaigns to offering free insurance and financial literacy programmes, as well as matching the savings of lower-income families. The Sunday Times highlights some matched savings programmes by three banks - Citibank and Maybank on this page, and POSB on Page B15.

Citibank Singapore

CITI-SOUTH EAST MONEYWISE PROGRAMME

This programme was launched in April 2011 by Citi Singapore and South East Community Development Council (CDC).

Madam Sharifah Norma Said Abdul Hamid, a mother of two children aged 13 and 11, has been a strong supporter of the Matched Savings Programme since her eldest child joined the scheme in 2013.

She said her children now make it a point to save up even if it is a small amount. They have also begun to learn to appreciate the value of money, learnt to differentiate between "wants" and "needs", and do not take a single cent for granted.

Objectives of the scheme: The programme seeks to benefit students from low-income families with household income of less than $2,500 a month, which are receiving assistance from the Ministry of Education Financial Assistance Scheme. It aims to equip these students with valuable financial planning skills such as budgeting and good saving habits.

By going beyond just providing financial assistance, Citibank and South East CDC recognise that imparting useful life skills and knowledge has a more lasting impact, and would help the students achieve longer-term self-reliance.

Mr Amol Gupte, head of Asean and Citi country officer, Singapore, said: "The programme establishes a key life skill among the students by inculcating a habit of saving through better money management. It also creates opportunities for our staff to volunteer as mentors to the students every year. Hence, we see our partnership with South East CDC as a meaningful initiative as it allows Citi to make a difference to our community."

So far, the programme has benefited 899 students from 2011 to last year. This year, 181 students are participating in the programme.


ST ILLUSTRATION: JASTER NGUI

How the scheme works: The children, aged nine to 12, are encouraged to save between $1 and $10 monthly for eight months from April to November, and deposit their savings into a junior joint savings account. At the end of the programme in February of each year, their personal savings of up to $80 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.

In addition, South East CDC will make an initial deposit of $50 into each participant's account, of which there is no minimum deposit or minimum balance requirement.

There is a $10 cash top-up into the account for participants who did not withdraw the initial $50 deposit from the CDC, and another $10 cash top-up for those with at least 70 per cent attendance at the mentoring sessions. This works out to total cash incentives of $150. This amount excludes their savings of $80 in the eight months.

To incentivise them further, a Popular bookstore voucher of $20 will be given to participants who save at least $80 by the end of the programme.

The students will also attend financial literacy camps during their school holidays in June. Throughout the programme, they will be mentored by Citi volunteers through monthly mentoring sessions.

Maybank Singapore

CASHUP FAMILY SAVERS

This matched savings programme was launched in 2011, in partnership with Central Singapore CDC.

Families attend a financial literacy programme that covers essential topics such as budgeting.

During a six-month period, they will see their savings of up to $500 matched dollar-for-dollar by Maybank.

Through the matched savings mechanism, the programme provides an incentive for low-income families to adopt the money management tips they learnt and encourages them to cultivate a lifelong savings habit.


  • Mr Amol Gupte, head of Asean and Citi country officer, Singapore, says Citi's scheme inculcates a habit of saving through better money management.



    Mr Allen Ng, deputy chief executive officer, Maybank Singapore, says needy families need the motivation, basic financial education and a safety net to get started.

About 1,195 families have participated in the programme. Since 2011, Maybank has disbursed more than $480,000 in matched savings.

Madam Su Yoke Kiew, a widow with a six-year-old daughter, says she has benefited from the CashUp workshop. For instance, she has gained tips on how to save regardless of how pressing conditions are.

As she has only primary school education, Madam Su appreciates that the workshop materials are easy to understand and the lessons are conducted in Mandarin.

Mr Allen Ng, deputy chief executive officer, Maybank Singapore, said: "We understand that some families that are living hand-to- mouth find it hard to save or get adequate insurance protection, even though these are essential for their future financial security. What they need is motivation, basic financial education and a safety net to get started. Maybank's financial inclusion programmes since 2011 have aimed to empower such families with the above."

STAR SAVERS PROGRAMME

Launched in March last year, the three-year Star Savers programme supports the community under North West CDC.

Star Savers provides a platform for needy students to enhance their social mobility by inculcating good savings habits while being offered the opportunity to pursue courses to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

Children from needy families are encouraged to save $60 a year. These savings are matched 10 times - capped at $600 per student per year - by Maybank in the form of training credits to be used for enrichment courses at community centres.

Since its inception, the programme has benefited 182 primary school kids who have saved about $9,000 in total in the programme's first year.

Students used the credits to pursue their interests via various courses such as creative writing, guzheng (a Chinese string instrument), silat and piano.

MAYBANK-ETIQA FAMILY SHIELD

Rolled out in 2011, this is a joint programme run by Maybank and Etiqa Insurance and offered through various partners such as Central Singapore CDC, South East CDC and South West CDC. It is open to residents from these districts, or those who are benefiting from their local assistance programmes.

Beneficiaries under the programme need not pay any premium and will be insured for two years under a personal accident insurance plan that covers accidental injuries, 24 hours a day, worldwide.

The maximum payout for accidental death is over $50,000. The programme provides additional coverage for up to six dependants.

Some 1,026 families have been enrolled in the programme and collectively benefit from over $51 million in policy coverage value.

SEE INVEST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 04, 2017, with the headline 'Saving for a rainy day, with a little help from banks'. Print Edition | Subscribe