S'poreans score high on financial independence

Office crowd in Central Business District.
Office crowd in Central Business District. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

But they lag behind most Asians in terms of marital bliss: Survey

Singaporeans are more financially independent than people in other parts of Asia, according to a new survey.

It found that 56 per cent of respondents stated that they receive no financial support from anyone. This compares with an Asian average of 37 per cent. This financial independence is reflected in personal relationships, with only 15 per cent of people here describing an ideal partner as one who provides daily financial support.

The survey was used to compile the Prudential Relationship Index as a way of understanding the state of personal relationships in Asia and to find ways of making them stronger.

More than 5,000 interviews were conducted between July 13 and July 31 in Singapore, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

There were 500 interviews conducted in Singapore online and the people surveyed were in the top two-thirds in terms of household incomes. The study highlighted that many couples control their finances separately although 51 per cent of married people have joint bank accounts.

Men and women in Singapore have different roles when it comes to household finances. For instance, 52 per cent of men say they control spending on large expenses compared with just 15 per cent of women. However, for day-to-day expenses, 51 per cent of women say they exercise the most control versus 31 per cent of men.

It is also interesting to note what respondents rank as the top five attributes they valued in a financial consultant. These are honesty (52 per cent), ability to carry out constructive discussions (41 per cent), easy to talk with (35 per cent), easy to understand (32 per cent) and putting customers' interests first (30 per cent).

But people in Singapore lag behind most Asians in relationship fulfilment, despite being more affluent. Singapore ranked seventh, with an overall relationship score of 68/100.

In any given week, 24 per cent of married people surveyed think seriously about leaving their spouse. About 34 per cent often argue with their partners, including 20 per cent who say these arguments lead to verbal abuse.

The most likely sources of arguments between couples are children (46 per cent), followed by money (41 per cent) and housework (29 per cent).

Quarrels over children may stem from the unequal responsibilities at home, with 51 per cent of women saying they spend more time looking after their children compared with 25 per cent of men.

Ms Angela Hunter, chief marketing officer at Prudential Singapore, said: "The research findings are both cause for celebration and concern - celebration in that people in Singapore value relationships grounded on important attributes such as partnership, companionship, respect and honesty.

"However, clear gaps are also present in the level of relationship satisfaction, with family demands, financial uncertainty and technology causing rising tension and stress."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans score high on financial independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe