Covid-19 adding stress on Singaporeans' financial well-being: Survey

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Covid-19 has put additional stress on Singaporeans' financial well-being, according to the latest survey by OCBC.

Although most Singaporeans are good at the "basics", particularly saving their money, many are now struggling to keep up with housing loan payments and maintaining their usual levels of passive income.

The OCBC Financial Wellness Index, which was first published last year, fell from 63 to 61 this year, reflecting the global economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the bank said.

For its survey, OCBC polled 2,000 working adults in Singapore between the ages of 21 and 65. Participants were assessed on 10 pillars of financial wellness, defined by the bank's wealth management experts.

About one third (31 per cent) of respondents faced difficulties paying off their housing loans, with 9 per cent stating they may need to sell or downgrade.

The poor performance of stocks and dividends also resulted in a loss in passive income for most respondents.

Out of three age groups, millennials - those aged 21 to 39 - seemed the most worried about their finances, with 49 per cent of those surveyed preoccupied by financial matters, compared with 37 per cent of Generation X and 26 per cent of baby boomers.

At the same time, a significant proportion (48 per cent) of them spent to a large extent "to keep up with their peers".

They were also less inclined to seek professional advice when making investment decisions, with only 26 per cent stating they would do so, despite nearly half of them (42 per cent) admitting they did not know the best way to grow their money.

Compared to other age groups, millennials wanted to grow their wealth quickly, and preferred to do their own research.

When asked how millennials, especially younger ones, can start planning properly for retirement, the advice from Ms Tan Siew Lee, OCBC's head of wealth management, was "to start small".

She said: "Your runway is very long. Start with a regular savings plan, and get an appropriate insurance policy. You can benefit from the power of compounding."