One in 3 adults doesn't invest: OCBC survey

The study found that most Singaporeans are aware of the basics of financial health but they fared more poorly when it came to investments.
The study found that most Singaporeans are aware of the basics of financial health but they fared more poorly when it came to investments.PHOTO: ST FILE

One in three working adults in Singapore does not invest or find ways to grow his money, a survey showed. Women, especially, regard investing as a form of gambling.

Many Singaporeans are also poorly equipped for financial emergencies, and are far from ready to enjoy their retirement.

The survey found that only 42 per cent have saved enough for an emergency, and just half would be able to stretch their savings to last them six months - the average time taken to find a job.

These are among the key findings released yesterday from OCBC's inaugural Financial Wellness Index, which surveyed 2,000 working adults aged 21 to 65 here.

More than 70 per cent of respondents were not on track with their retirement plans. And 65 per cent were behind in accumulating enough funds to maintain their lifestyle after retirement.

The survey was conducted online in May, with respondents answering 44 questions related to their financial situation.

It found that most Singaporeans were familiar with only conventional money management habits such as saving regularly, getting insurance coverage and sticking to a budget.Those in the sandwich generation - usually those in their 30s and 40s - were especially vulnerable and had more financial worries, given their need to provide for both their elderly parents and young children, OCBC said.

While members of this generation took more measures to prepare themselves, such as reviewing their financial plans yearly, they were not free from financial gaps: 31 per cent still had unsecured debts compared with the Singapore average of 27 per cent.

Mr Jason Lim, a 39-year-old finance executive, has two daughters, with the eldest entering Primary 1 next year. He also has to support his retiree parents who are in their late 60s.

While he has bought insurance for his family that covers medical-related mishaps and an education plan for his daughter, Mr Lim acknowledged that he would be in a precarious situation should something unforeseen occur.

"I don't really believe in investing in stocks and shares... If something unexpected happens, I may be short of money but I should be okay, because I can borrow from my friends or from the bank," he told The Straits Times.

To address these issues, OCBC Bank has launched a free financial literacy course in the form of a video series that can be found on its website. For financial tips, OCBC Bank also has Wealth Hacks, a series of 10 short videos online.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2019, with the headline 'One in 3 adults doesn't invest: OCBC survey'. Subscribe