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One-third of people in Singapore see investing as a form of gambling: OCBC study

Janet Ong
Finance Editor
Office workers walk past an OCBC branch in Singapore's financial district. (Reuters file photo)

SINGAPORE — About 33 per cent of people in Singapore think of investing as a form of gambling, indicating that many lag behind when it comes to growing their wealth and preparing for retirement, according to a study by OCBC Bank released on Monday (15 July).

The inaugural Financial Wellness Index found that people are good at the basics — 26 per cent saved from their salaries while 82 per cent have proactively gotten medical insurance.

However, only 42 per cent said they are on track to accumulate enough funds for an emergency and about half said they can stretch their savings to last for six months.

Conducted in May, the OCBC study surveyed online 2,000 working adults in Singapore between 21 and 65 on the state of their financial health.

When it comes to their golden years, about 65 per cent are behind with accumulating enough funds to maintain their lifestyle after retirement.

What stands out is that 51 per cent among the sandwiched generation find it tough to financially support their parents and children. Among them, 31 per cent have unsecured debt compared with 27 per cent on average in Singapore.

The study also showed that women were, by and large, more averse to investing than men, with 39 per cent having no investments compared with 31 per cent of men. About 43 per cent of women don’t know the best way to grow wealth, compared with 32 per cent of men.

The differences were also apparent between those who were married and single. About 69 per cent of married people have their own investments, compared with 62 per cent of singles.

Overall, Singaporeans scored an average 63 out of 100, which put them in the “started but behind” stage of their financial wellness.

The respondents have monthly salaries ranging from $2,000 to over $10,000. They come from segments including singles, married and the “sandwiched” generation, which refers to people who are supporting their ageing parents and children.

They were asked to answer 44 questions about 26 indicators, including saving habits, retirement planning, and excessive speculation.

Koh Ching Ching, OCBC's head of group brand & communications, said the bank will publish the index annually, and plans to make it a regional survey to include markets such as Hong Kong or Malaysia next.

Based on the findings, OCBC has put together a Financial Masterclass, which consists of four video modules on topics like managing wealth, debt and safeguarding and growing growth, to educate consumers. The bank has created a series of 10 short videos called “Wealth Hacks” for those who are stretched for time, said Tan Siew Lee, OCBC’s head of wealth management.

The OCBC Financial Masterclass is conducted by (from left) Wayne Chua, Head of Bancassurance; Jessica Goh, Product Manager, Wealth Management; Tan Siew Lee, Head of Wealth Management Singapore, and Vasu Menon, Senior Investment Strategist. (PHOTO: OCBC Bank)

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