2 in 3 working Singaporeans do not have savings to last them beyond 6 months: OCBC survey

More than half the respondents said their savings had taken a hit. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Many Singaporeans do not have enough savings to allow them to maintain their current lifestyle beyond six months if they were to lose their jobs now.

An OCBC survey conducted last month during the circuit breaker period found that around two-thirds of working Singaporeans and permanent residents had indicated that they did not have enough savings to last them beyond six months.

Around half had already suffered wage cuts, were prescribed no-pay leave or had their commission earnings reduced.

The survey aimed to understand the impact of the coronavirus crisis on residents' financial well-being, OCBC said.

The bank surveyed 1,000 working adults aged between 21 and 65, earning from $2,000 a month.

More than half the respondents said their savings had taken a hit.

Around 20 per cent indicated their savings fell by more than 20 per cent, while one in three said the decline was up to 20 per cent.

Another 20 per cent were maintaining their savings level.

But some managed to save more, with 5 per cent of the respondents saying savings had increased by more than 20 per cent.

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The remaining 20 per cent said that their savings had gone up by up to 20 per cent.

The respondents indicated their retirement plans were impacted as well, with the Covid-19 pandemic affecting people across the age groups differently.

A third of those aged between 40 and 54 said they had cut their retirement savings, while 23 per cent of those in their 20s, who had signed up for a financial plan, indicated they have put aside more money for retirement.

OCBC found that the pandemic had also impacted investment strategies with two in five saying they were planning to downsize their portfolios.

Around 16 per cent said they will cut their investments by more than 20 per cent.

The respondents did, however, express hope for the next six months.

While around 55 per cent said that they were worried about their income and job situation now, 38 per cent said they would continue to worry about income stability and 35 per cent about job security by December.

Ms Tan Siew Lee, OCBC's wealth management head, said: "It is encouraging that some are doing the right thing to boost their financial health, by continuing to save, spending prudently and making sound investments, according to their risk appetite and financial circumstances."

"But we also hope that those who are cutting back on these aspects, which are crucial to building a nest egg for retirement, will not despair.

"Events such as the current Covid-19 crisis, like Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the Asian Financial Crisis, will pass," she added.

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