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The aspect of wellness most Singaporeans overlook

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Even with the increased focus on wellness nowadays, one aspect is still being overlooked by most Singaporean workers – financial wellness.

While more were taking their health seriously (with 85% exercising at least once a week and 88% trying to eat healthily), the majority of Singaporeans were behind on most indicators of financial wellness. This was according to the inaugural OCBC Financial Wellness Index which assesses how well people in Singapore fare across 10 pillars of financial wellness.

Polling 2,000 working adults aged between 21 and 65, OCBC Bank revealed Singaporeans scored an average of 63 on the index, meaning that they have started but are behind on most indicators. About 64% of respondents fell into this category, while 19% had ‘started and are ahead on most indicators’. Another 19% were ‘starting/intend to start’, and 1% ‘have not started’.

The index showed that most Singaporeans were good at the basic financial habits (saving regularly, having insurance, and being able to stick to a budget).

 

However, many still lag in terms of growing their wealth through investing and building up enough funds for a rainy day or retirement.

When it comes to investing, about a third (34%) did not invest, 48% had no passive income, 36% had investments that are not performing to their targets, and 27% were investors who speculate excessively for quick gains. Worryingly, 33% thought of investing as a form of gambling and 37% didn’t know the best way to grow their money.

With most Singaporeans relying solely on regular savings for their retirement plans, many are not financially well-prepared to enjoy their golden years – 73% were not on track with their retirement plans and 65% were behind with accumulating enough funds for maintain their lifestyle after retirement.

Apart from that, with only 42% being on track to accumulate enough funds for an emergency and 51% being able to stretch their savings to last for six months, many Singaporeans were ill equipped for financial emergency.

These financial gaps meant two in five had worried about money the week they were surveyed.

Differences between demographic groups

The Index also found interesting differences between genders, age groups, and marital status.

Notably, parents – especially those sandwiched between providing for their children and supporting elderly parents – were among the more financially stretched, with 51% finding it tough to financially support both sides. On the bright side, this group of parents were also making more efforts to achieve financial stability.

Click through the gallery for the detailed findings.

By gender:

  • Women were generally more averse to investing than men. More than half (54%) of women (vs 44% of men) had no passive income, 43% (vs 32%) didn’t know the best way to grow wealth, and 39% (vs 31%) had no investments.
  • Women in their 20s and 30s were less likely to stick to their budget as compared to their male counterparts. In their 20s, 66% of women (vs 79% of men) stuck to their budget, while in their 30s, 61% (vs 71%) stuck to their budget.
  • More women aged 55 and older found it tough to sustain their lifestyle after retirement (67% vs 55%).

By age group:

  • Younger Singaporeans saved a lot but didn’t know how to grow their wealth compared to older Singaporeans.
  • Being a life stage where financial obligations arise, hence, Singaporeans in their 30s were stretched between wealth accumulation and debt creeping in.
  • Younger Singaporeans wanted to retire earlier, with more money. Those in their 20s have expressed the desire to retire at 56 with S$1mn. That age was raised to 59 (with S$900k) for those in their 30s. Singaporeans aged 40 to 54 hoped to retire by 62 with S$800k. While Those 55 and older wanted to retire at 67 with S$500k.

By marital status:

  • Married Singaporeans were more likely to have their own investments (69% vs 62%).
  • More than half of married Singaporeans (55%) had a passive income, compared to 47% of their single counterparts.
  • Married Singaporeans were also more on track with their retirement plans (31% vs 21%).

Methodology

To put together the OCBC Financial Wellness Index, OCBC Bank first identified 10 pillars that define financial wellness – saving habits, protection from financial emergencies, regular investing, retirement planning, regular reviews, gambling habits, excessive speculation, borrowing money from loved ones, spending beyond means and manageable debt.

From there, respondents were asked to answer 44 questions about 26 indicators which, taken together, paint a comprehensive picture of one’s financial wellness. Based on how they answered the questions, respondents were scored on each pillar, adding up to give an individual’s overall score ranging from 0 to 100.

Based on their overall score, respondents were classified into various stages of financial wellness.

  • Have not started (0-24): Respondents have hardly taken any action on most indicators.
  • Intend to start (25-49): Respondents have just started or are intending to start.
  • Started but behind (50-74): Respondents have started but are behind on most indicators.
  • Started and ahead (75-100): Ahead on almost all indicators.

All 2,000 respondents’ collective scores were then averaged out to come up with the overall Index score.


Infographics / OCBC Bank

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