1 in 3 Singaporeans does not invest, most financially unprepared for retirement: OCBC survey

The study found that most Singaporeans are aware of the basics of financial health but they fared more poorly when it came to investments. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About one-third of Singaporeans do not invest and see investing as a form of gambling, even as the majority of respondents were found to be financially unprepared for retirement.

In particular, half of those among the sandwiched generation - people who support their ageing parents and their own children at the same time - struggle to cope and have significantly greater worries about their financial status compared with the average Singaporean.

These are some of the key takeways from OCBC's inaugural Financial Wellness Index, which polled 2,000 working adults in Singapore between the ages of 21 and 65 on the state of their financial health.

Overall, Singapore received a score of 63 out of 100 in this first study, indicating that Singaporeans have started taking care of their financial health but are still behind on most indicators.

There are 26 indicators altogether, including factors such as regular rate of savings, investments, financial retirement planning and having enough funds in times of crisis.

The study found that most Singaporeans are aware of the basics - they save an average of 26 per cent of their salary, and 82 per cent of respondents have proactively got insurance coverage.

But they fared more poorly when it came to investments. Some 34 per cent do not invest, while 36 per cent of investors have investments not performing to their targets. Out of those who invest, 27 per cent speculate excessively for quick gains.

Most are neither equipped for financial emergencies nor well-prepared for retirement. About half have enough savings to last six months, while almost three-quarters are not on track with their retirement plans. Some 65 per cent of respondents are not accumulating enough funds to maintain their lifestyle after retirement.

In particular, the sandwiched generation was found to have more financial worries compared with the rest. Some 63 per cent are concerned that they are not able to spend beyond their basic needs, compared with the Singapore average of 51 per cent.

About 74 per cent in the sandwiched generation worry that the economy will not improve in the next 12 months, compared with the average of 70 per cent.

The survey also found differences in how various groups fared in their financial health, notably in terms of marital status and gender.

Women were found to be more averse to investing, with 39 per cent of them having no investments, compared with 31 per cent of men. Some 69 per cent of married people have their own investments, compared with 62 per cent of singles.

According to Ms Koh Ching Ching, OCBC's head of group brand and communications, the financial wellness survey is a first in Singapore in terms of comprehensiveness of scope. The survey is expected to be conducted annually, with eventual plans to roll it out across OCBC's markets, with Hong Kong or Malaysia slated as next in line, she said.

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