Amid declining birth rates and an ageing population, nearly half (46%) of Singaporeans expect their family to care for them in retirement, a new survey by St James’s Place Wealth Management Asia (SJP Asia).
The survey also reveals that almost half (48%) of respondents forecast they will not have enough money saved to sustain the lifestyle they want in retirement.

Over one in eight (13%) believe they will need to work past retirement age owing to a lack of savings, with two-thirds (66%) concerned about being a financial burden to those closest to them.

These findings highlight the growing challenges that Singaporean families face as they age and also underscores the importance of robust financial planning for millennials, the first generation that will reportedly earn less than their parents.

Preparing for sacrifices

More than two in five (42%) are unaware of how much income they will require in retirement to enjoy the lifestyle they aspire to lead. The median expectation among respondents was a monthly income ranging from S$3,501 [$2,474] to S$5,000 (20%), with over half (51%) believing they would need more than S$5,000 per month in their retirement.

Some of their concerns include having a lack of understanding around tax matters and having to make lifestyle sacrifices that all contribute to making retirement planning difficult, with over half (57%) saying that it was a significant source of stress in their lives.

However stressful, a lack of financial preparation earlier in their lives can lead to more serious consequences nearer to their retirement—less than half (44%) of respondents have discussed retirement with their family members.

Considering forecasted savings shortages, many respondents are prepared to make sacrifices in their twilight years to accommodate their retirement plans. This includes reducing spend on lifestyle services, luxury goods and travel, downsizing their home (23%), and reducing spending on family members (27%). Almost a third (32%) of those surveyed say they plan to retire outside of Singapore, with Malaysia (25%), Australia (15%) and Thailand (13%) being the most popular destinations. When asked why, 57% cited the high cost of living.

However, respondents were also motivated by positive factors including a desire for a change in scenery (43%) and better perceived benefits for seniors elsewhere (36%).

Start early, start young

Interestingly, more than half (56%) of those who do not believe that they will have enough money saved for retirement, are between the ages of 25 to 40. However, these are respondents with a longer time horizon and more earnings potential, which means they can do more to improve their financial situation over time.

The report also finds that life insurance uptake is very high at 84%, but only 38% have made a will. This was more concerning when examining the breakdown of the respondents by age. While it is understandable that 58% of respondents that do not have a will are under the age of 40, the majority (72%) of those who do not have life insurance are under the age of 40.

Generational wealth

When looking at generational wealth transfer, some worrying trends were revealed. Three in five (60%) have not made plans to transfer wealth and assets to their family and only two-in-five (40%) intend to do so over the next five to 10 years. Over a third (35%) of respondents say they plan to donate a part of their wealth/estate to a philanthropic cause.

Some of the primary concerns around generational wealth are understanding tax implications (53%), understanding inter-generational wealth transfer (50%) and the difficulty in apportioning wealth to family members (40%). Nearly one third (29%) worry this may cause disharmony among family members and 27% have concerns that the next generation will not manage or grow the wealth responsibly.

The findings in this survey were analysed and established through a total of 2,064 interviews conducted online in February and March 2020 in Hong Kong (1,019) and Singapore (1,045). Only respondents between the ages of 25-54 and which held personal investments in stocks, property, shares, funds, etc. were interviewed. All respondents were from households with a minimum annual income of S$70,000 to over S$250,000.

St James’s Place Wealth Management is a leading wealth management group, with offices across the UK, and internationally in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. Since acquiring The Henley Group, one of Asia’s leading wealth management advice companies, in 2014, SJP has become one of Asia’s largest wealth management companies serving the local and expatriate communities.

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