Money is top stressor for Singaporeans: BlackRock survey

Millennials, women could face hurdles in retirement planning due to declining use of financial advisers

Singapore

MONEY remains the biggest source of stress for Singaporeans, but those who have started retirement planning are more likely to have a higher sense of well-being, a survey by BlackRock has found.

BlackRock's Global Investor Pulse survey polled over 27,000 people in 13 markets, including about 1,500 respondents in Singapore.

Compared to their regional and global peers, a higher proportion of Singaporeans said their vision of retirement includes being active in the job market, taking up volunteer work or new hobbies.

Among Singaporeans, preparing for retirement (48 per cent) or accumulating enough to retire or retire early (42 per cent) are cited as financial goals. But nearly half (47 per cent) said they are behind where they thought they should be in terms of financial health.

The survey also found that their idea of financial health hinged on short-term needs such as daily expenditures (72 per cent) and having little or no debt (65 per cent). Those who have begun saving for retirement are more likely to report a higher sense of well-being than those who have not (65 vs 39 per cent).

More than half (53 per cent) of Singaporeans cited money as the top source of stress, and this concern is particularly key among millennials (63 per cent).

Millennials and women could face more headwinds in preparing for retirement due to a declining use of financial advisers and a strong demand for combining the use of technology and human interaction in investing (64 per cent).

More than half of Singapore women (56 per cent) said they are the primary decision-maker for saving and investment. Yet, they trail men in saving for retirement. While 74 per cent of women said that not having to worry about money is a top priority for an ideal retirement, only 60 per cent have started saving, compared to 71 per cent of men.

Among those who have begun to save, Singapore women lean heavily on cash and personal savings, rather than a mix of investment tools (60 per cent).

One reason for the lower participation in investment among women may be a lack of guidance. 55 per cent of women see themselves as non-investors, and seven out of 10 women said there was a lack of clear and user-friendly information about investing.

As many as 81 per cent of millennials believe their financial outlook would improve if they had started to invest. The survey found that three out of five millennials have begun to save for retirement. More millennials save into a private pension or retirement plan (37 per cent), and make additional contributions to their CPF (29 per cent than Singaporeans generally. (33 and 23 per cent respectively)

Deborah Ho, BlackRock head of South-east Asia, said: "Most Singaporeans recognise the importance of saving and investing for financial freedom ... It is critically important to ensure they feel empowered and equipped with the right information and guidance, for instance through technology and financial education, so they have the confidence to start building their financial future."