More options on CPF menu

It is quite difficult to top Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say's appetising analogy for the changes being made to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system.

He said on Thursday that the CPF Board has offered its members laksa and chicken rice, and now offers nasi lemak too.

There were two major changes that an advisory panel recommended.

One is to offer members two options when it comes to receiving their CPF payouts from age 65. They can choose between one with fixed payouts and one where payouts start lower but keep rising. The latter, a new plan under CPF Life, will see monthly payouts increase by 2 per cent every year to keep pace with inflation.

The second major recommendation will see the CPF Board offering members better choices if they want to invest their CPF funds. The advisory panel suggested a Lifetime Retirement Investment Scheme (LRIS) that would provide simple investment funds for CPF members who want higher returns, but who do not have the time or skills to actively monitor their investments closely.

As Mr Lim noted, the LRIS would plug a gap in existing investment options.

At the same time, the advisory panel recommended that the existing CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) be reviewed to make it more relevant to more knowledgeable investors.

Those who may have the time and skills to monitor their portfolios, and perhaps more funds to invest in higher-risk instruments as well, have long argued that the current offerings under the CPFIS do not cater to their needs.

Analysts have welcomed these changes, saying they would make the CPF system work better for different segments of CPF members by catering to their different needs in a more targeted fashion.

Like Singapore's hawker food, none of these options is better than the others. It all boils down to individual taste - or in this case, financial needs and risk profiles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2016, with the headline 'More options on CPF menu'. Print Edition | Subscribe