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Half of affluent Singaporeans may not hit retirement goals: Study

Their savings aren't diversified enough to give optimal returns, StanChart says

Ovais Subhani on 21 Dec 2019

The Straits Times


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Nearly half of affluent Singaporeans may not retire to the cosy lifestyle they had hoped for, a Standard Chartered Bank study found.


Their savings were not diversified enough to deliver optimal returns, the bank said in its new Wealth Expectancy Report 2019.


While more Singapore savers on average have crossed the halfway mark to their desired retirement goals compared with their global peers, about 50 per cent would still be disappointed come retirement, it said.


In general, savings accounts, property investment and fixed deposit accounts were the top three preferred financial tools here, the study noted.


Affluent and high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) were, however, open to more advanced investment products, such as equities and real estate investment trusts.


Mr Dwaipayan Sadhu, head of retail banking for Singapore at Standard Chartered, said: "It is not easy, even for the affluent, to plan and achieve one's retirement goals. This study shows that many are choosing savings accounts to grow their wealth, which affords capital protection and liquidity, at the expense of returns once inflation has been factored in."


To close the gap with their retirement goals, people should also rely on a diversified portfolio of investments to lift and protect returns across market cycles, he said.


"We can start by developing a better understanding of our retirement aspirations, risk appetite and the market outlook."


The study defined savers as the emerging affluent, affluent and HNWIs, with varying market-specific income bands starting at $5,000 a month.


It compared the wealth aspirations for retirement against the wealth they expected to accumulate, based on the existing saving and investment habits, by the time they reached their highest point of affluence - assumed to be at the age of 60.


For two-fifths of Singapore's emerging affluent, saving for retirement remained a top financial goal. That was more than any saver group in any other market.


Interestingly, 22 per cent of Singapore's HNWIs cited healthcare needs as a financial goal, which is higher than the global average of 17 per cent, the report said.


Mr Steve Brice, Standard Chartered's chief investment strategist, said that most people used savings accounts to grow their wealth, which was understandable given the security they offered.


However, the "real" returns on these savings after inflation could often be disappointing compared with investments, he said.


Similarly, annuities and endowments were also quite popular. Typically long-term in nature, these insurance products offer defined returns after a certain date but you cannot access them easily in times of emergency.


"When making investments, it is critical to diversify across several different products to preserve capital and protect against risks. To achieve a balance between certainty and flexibility, an allocation to a diversified basket consisting of stocks, bonds and precious metals is the way to go," Mr Brice said.


The bank's Wealth Expectancy Report studied 10,000 savers across 10 markets - China, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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