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Why Singaporeans don't trust financial planners

There are many reasons why an average Singaporean may be sceptical when it comes to working with the financial planning industry ("Lack of trust in financial planning sector: Poll"; Jan 17).

First, financial planners can come in the form of insurance agents, brokers, investment advisers and personal bankers, each specialising in different areas and, often, complex financial products. This can be confusing for the average person.

Second, it could be expensive to hire the services of different people to advise on various aspects of financial planning.

Third, the majority of financial planners are better incentivised to advise wealthy clients. With commission-based fee structures, there is concern that theadviser might not be unbiased.

Fourth, there is little understanding of how financial advisers and planners are regulated.

And finally, there are multiple sources (blogs, podcasts, videos) on do-it-yourself financial planning that are free and are available in real time.

Despite these, Singaporeans must still seek independent and professional advice when they choose to invest their money in complex financial products such as life insurance, mortgage and investments.

They must do their due diligence to check if these financial planners are independent and certified, and understand their fee structures prior to hiring their services.

Rohith Murthy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Why Singaporeans don't trust financial planners'. Print Edition | Subscribe