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Just one-fifth of Singaporeans confident CPF will meet retirement needs: Survey

A survey conducted by Manulife finds that many respondents feel their CPF savings are insufficient to cover retirement expenses, and the returns are too small.

SINGAPORE: Just one in five Singaporeans are confident their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings will meet their retirement needs, according to a survey released by Manulife on Wednesday (Aug 13).

According to the quarterly survey, conducted online with 500 respondents, 47 per cent thought their CPF savings would not be enough to cover their retirement expenses, and 44 per cent felt the returns were too low.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents felt there should be greater flexibility in the withdrawal of their CPF savings, while 56 per cent said CPF contributions from employers and the Government should be raised.

Just 32 per cent of respondents said they actively managed their CPF – meaning that they review and, if needed, rebalance their portfolio at least once every six months – and only 18 per cent were satisfied with the range of investment choices currently available for CPF funds. A total of 59 per cent felt there should be more education on retirement planning.

About 45 per cent of respondents said they would withdraw a lump sum from their CPF savings at age 55 after leaving the required Minimum Sum. Averaged out, those that preferred to withdraw a lump sum would deposit 30 per cent into a bank account, use 18 per cent to invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, set aside 11 per cent for travelling and 10 per cent to buy property. The remainder would be used for other purposes, such as to pass on to their children or buy an annuity.

Donald Low, Senior Fellow at Lee Kuan Yew's School of Public Policy and an expert on behavioural economics, suggested less emphasis on the use of the CPF for housing. Rather, more funds could be channelled to retirement, and younger Singaporeans could be given more investment options.

"For instance, one of the things we should allow is for young people to adopt a more aggressive investment profile," he suggested. "This might include allowing them to use more of their Ordinary Account for savings, but as they reach their 30s and 40s and so on, we might want to tighten the amount."