Wealthy S'pore investors thinking of relocating families here or elsewhere

60% of high-net-worth investors surveyed have rethought family set-up since pandemic; 41% thinking of relocating

More wealthy Singapore-based investors are thinking of relocating their family members - either to the Republic or elsewhere - than their peers in the region, according to a report released yesterday by Swiss private bank Lombard Odier.

These high-net-worth (HNW) investors are also the most concerned about overheating stocks of all the regional investors polled, with more than half expecting a market correction.

Lombard Odier spoke to 620 HNW individuals - defined as those with at least US$1 million (S$1.35 million) of investible assets in the region - across Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia.

It conducted the study to better understand HNW investors' perceptions of the current Covid-19 environment and their thoughts on the post-pandemic future.

About 60 per cent of the Singapore-based investors have rethought their families' set-up since Covid-19, the survey found.

Meanwhile, 41 per cent of the investors here are also thinking of relocating, the highest percentage across the markets studied.

Mr Vincent Magnenat, Lombard Odier Asia's chief executive, said relocation is generally prompted by the desire for the family to be together, especially if some members have been studying or living overseas during the pandemic.

Relocation could also mean children abroad returning to Singapore to live with their families based here, he said.

"The trend that we are seeing clearly is that we have quite a number of (investors) in the region relocating to Singapore. This is a major trend that we're seeing over the last few years that has been accelerated during this period."

He noted that the environment, safety and financial ecosystem in hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong are very important to investors at this time.

Separately, Singapore investors are also among the most concerned about overheating equity markets, with 52 per cent expecting a correction.

More than half of the respondents in the study believe there will be a higher-inflation environment, and more than half are thinking of changing their portfolio return, with 23 per cent adjusting it higher and 28 per cent lower.

Mr Jean-Francois Aboulker, Lombard Odier Asia's head of ultra-high-net-worth individuals offering, said: "Findings from the study show that amid the unpredictability of today's environment, there is an increase in the divergence of views and needs of high-net-worth individuals, and they are increasingly looking to banks for guidance, especially within individual markets."

The report said that 80 per cent of Singapore investors are looking to increasingly leverage their banks' expertise and mandates in order to navigate the uncertain and volatile markets.

But one area in which wealthy Singapore investors lag behind is sustainability, the report showed.

Only 49 per cent of Singapore respondents said they believe that green investments can bring higher returns, compared with the regional average of 59 per cent.

About a third of respondents here said they had already increased sustainability factors in their portfolios.

This is the second-lowest percentage among the countries in the region.

The report said: "There is a large push for sustainable investments in Singapore, which as a financial hub is very developed in terms of the identification and implementation of sustainability issues.

"Consequently, investors price a bank's ability to deliver sustainability more as a commodity, even though it is a must-have."

In contrast, according to the report, investors in countries that do not have such easy access to sustainable instruments, or have more visible climate change damage, price them higher.

"There is a long way for Singapore investors to go in increasing their conviction on sustainability," the report said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2021, with the headline 'Wealthy S'pore investors thinking of relocating families here or elsewhere'. Subscribe