Average net financial assets of S'poreans 'rank ninth highest'

Singaporeans on average have net financial assets of about €73,000 (S$117,000), the ninth highest in the world, according to a new study out yesterday.

The ranking is unchanged from last year but is up from 14th place in 2000.

Net financial assets refer to assets such as bank deposits, securities, and insurance assets minus liabilities like loans.

Switzerland topped the table with net financial assets per capita of €157,450, with the United States next on €138,710.

Japan at eighth on €73,550 was the only Asian country above Singapore, in the sixth Allianz Global Wealth Report.

Allianz performed calculations on data taken from public sources to calculate what Singapore's ranking in 2000 would have been.

Allianz chief economist Michael Heise said in a statement: "Such rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt. However, the long- term movements are quite significant. Regional development of financial assets is far from homogenous. There are huge differences among the countries; many have still a lot of ground to catch up."

Gross financial assets per capita in Singapore was around €106,620 as at the end of last year, the highest in the region.

It was more than 10 times higher than in China and more than 100 times greater than in India.

Gross financial assets - the sum of assets such as bank deposits, securities, and insurance assets - grew by 6.4 per cent last year, Allianz said, a slightly slower rate than the 7.1 per cent expansion in 2013.

The strongest growth was in life and pension assets, such as life insurance and pension entitlements, at 9 per cent. This growth reflected that individuals had to invest themselves as opposed to relying on the Government for retirement income, said Allianz.

"Almost half of all assets are held in life and pensions assets; no other Asian country invests more in this asset class (than Singapore)," Allianz noted. This reflected "the need to save for old age", it said.

People in Singapore have relatively more debt compared with the region and the world, Allianz added.

The Asia region excluding Japan, was the "unrivalled growth champion" last year with net financial assets growing by 18.2 per cent, the report said.

"The main driving force behind this trend was the sharp (and sometimes not sustainable) increase in securities assets, particularly in China."

Developments were more subdued in the world's two other emerging regions: Financial assets increased by 4.2 per cent in Latin America and 8.6 per cent in eastern Europe.

For the first time since the financial crisis, the euro zone recorded higher growth than North America.

Its 6.2 per cent expansion in financial assets last year trumped the 5.3 per cent rise in North America, thanks largely to strict "debt discipline", Allianz said. The reduction in private debt continued in many European countries last year, it added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2015, with the headline 'Average net financial assets of S'poreans 'rank ninth highest''. Print Edition | Subscribe