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1 in 3 Singapore investors hold debt: Survey

In the latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index, 69 per cent say they regretted not planning their investments better.

SINGAPORE: About one in three, or 33 per cent, of investors here are in debt, according to the latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index released on Tuesday (Feb 2).

This places Singapore behind Malaysia (68 per cent) and Philippines (41 per cent), but ahead of China and Taiwan (both 32 per cent). Examples of these debt include personal loans, student loans and credit card debts, said Manulife. Mortgages were not included.

Close to half, or 46 per cent, of indebted investors in Singapore owe S$10,000 or more, and 44 per cent expect to take longer than one and a half years to clear their debt. Manulife said the top contributor to investors' debt was daily living expenses such as food, utilities and transportation, followed by discretionary expenses such as clothes, entertainment and travel. 

In addition, more male investors are in debt compared to their female counterparts, with 37 per cent compared to 28 per cent, respectively. The men have a significantly higher average debt amount of S$40,985 compared with the women's S$25,502, the survey showed. 

“Singapore investors are taking steps in the right direction by working hard to keep track of their expenses and save for retirement. However, their debt burdens may be holding them back from achieving their financial goals," said President and CEO of Manulife Singapore Naveen Irshad.

"We encourage Singaporeans to look at planning their finances holistically, from making the most of their savings to protecting their wealth and securing a comfortable retirement.” 

The Index is a half-yearly survey measuring and tracking investors' views across eight markets in the region, and is based on 500 online interviews in each market of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, Manulife said. 

INVESTORS' REGRET

The survey also showed that the majority of Singapore investors, or 69 per cent, regret not planning their investments better.

When asked the reasons behind their regrets, 27 per cent cited not being more proactive in reviewing their portfolio, while 26 per cent said they held on to too much money in cash instead of making more investments. 

Singapore investors who are parents were also found to not impart their knowledge on financial planning, with 44 per cent neglecting to do so, the survey showed. Of these, 31 per cent believe that children should learn on their own while 24 per cent cited their own lack of knowledge about financial planning as the reason for not doing so, it noted.