OCBC Bank launches Singapore’s first Financial Wellness Index

The study indicates women are more likely to be behind on their investments, among other insights

Ms Suriati Jamil helming a scrum for an upcoming campaign. PHOTO: SWEET
Ms Suriati Jamil helming a scrum for an upcoming campaign. PHOTO: SWEET
Part of Ms Suriati Jamil's workday includes writing client proposals and overseeing the timelines for various projects. PHOTO: SWEET
Part of Ms Suriati Jamil's workday includes writing client proposals and overseeing the timelines for various projects. PHOTO: SWEET

Ms Suriati Jamil, in her early 30s, is living life to the fullest. Or so she thought.

The client solutions manager is happy pursuing a challenging career at a creative agency where she manages and presents pitches, and is actively involved in brainstorming sessions for exciting branding campaigns.

When she is not getting her creative juices flowing at work, she tackles her busy social calendar with gusto. She enjoys dining out with friends, going on frequent travels and relishing new experiences such as attending festivals and theatre performances.

Everything seems to fall in place for her, but on the financial front, things are not so rosy. Although she has savings to her name, her concerns about her financial health and a fear of living from paycheck to paycheck contribute to her worries for her future.

Fiscal fitness that’s less than ideal

Ms Suriati is not alone with such financial concerns.

Like 39 per cent of female respondents polled for OCBC Bank's Financial Wellness Index  — which aims to find out how Singaporeans are taking care of their wealth — she has no investments to her name.

She is also no different from the 54 per cent polled who have no passive income, and the 43 per cent who do not know the best way to grow their wealth.

These highlights, and more, were gleaned from among 2,000 working adults between 21 and 65 years old. They include those who are single and married, as well as those who are typically known as the sandwiched generation — people who support their ageing parents and their children at the same time.

Singaporeans on average scored 63 out of 100 in the study. 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  while 40 per cent do not carry out any research or blindly follow tips from family and friends.

How Singaporeans scored

The poll also revealed that people of various age groups scored differently on the OCBC Financial Wellness Index, which is a first in Singapore in terms of comprehensiveness of scope. The index defines financial wellness based on 10 pillars such as saving habits, retirement planning and manageable debts.

It also involves 26 indicators including factors including regular rate of savings, investments, financial retirement planning and having enough funds in times of crisis.

Those in their 20s are disciplined savers who started investing early, but are unsure of how to grow their wealth. They are also likely to take excessive risks when investing.

Meanwhile, those in their 30s actively try to grow their wealth, but have problems balancing debts with wealth accumulation.

Those in the sandwiched generation try to do more to achieve financial stability. However, they struggle to meet the needs of their children and parents, largely due to insufficient planning and financial management.

As for those aged 55 years old and above, they are not doing as much with retirement planning to maintain the lifestyles they desire.

The message is clear: while more Singaporeans are taking their health seriously, they need help with their wealth. They have nailed the basics of putting part of their income away as savings and proactively seeking medical insurance coverage, but fall short when it comes to making their money work harder for them.

Solutions at hand

 OCBC Bank's first-of-its-kind OCBC Financial Masterclass is designed to address the gaps mentioned, in a structured manner.

Modules are helmed by OCBC Bank's team of financial experts, including Tan Siew Lee, Head of Wealth Management Singapore and  Vasu Menon, Executive Director of Investment Strategy, and cover topics such as the tricks of saving, managing debt, protecting oneself from financial emergencies and overcoming the fear of investing.

The index is an extension of OCBC Bank’s efforts to truly understand its customers’ needs. In 2016, it launched OCBC Life Goals, a financial advisory tool to help consumers plan for their life goals – including retirement and children’s education – and to understand the financial gaps they face in meeting these goals.

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