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15 March 2021

2 in 3 Singaporean retirees regret not planning earlier for retirement

Only 1 in 4 invested in a retirement plan, revealing an average savings gap of S$677,000 

SINGAPORE – A new Manulife survey on Singaporeans’ retirement saving priorities and attitudes has revealed that 72% of retired respondents regret not saving for retirement sooner and almost half of them wish they had invested in a retirement plan.

The survey* polled 1,000 Singaporeans aged 21 to over 60, across a spectrum of working adults, pre-retirees and retirees, to uncover the status and sentiments of those about to retire versus those already in their golden years.


Most retirees regret not saving earlier and not saving up more. Retiring around the average age of 59, 1 in 5 respondents find themselves dissatisfied with their retirement savings. The survey showed that the average retirement savings among retired respondents is S$599,000. 2 in 3 retirees wish they had started planning financially for retirement at least eight years prior to when they began taking active steps, at around age 39.

In an ill-fated case of expectations versus reality, Singaporean retirees indicated that they’ve experienced a decline in their standard of living, with 1 in 4 having adopted lifestyle changes and consciously spending approximately S$1,500 less every month. Half of the respondents regret not investing in a retirement insurance policy earlier on in life.

Today, 1 in 3 retirees continue to work post-retirement to increase their savings, and 1 in 2 indicated the need to supplement their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings with other sources of income. Based on their current savings, 1 in 4 retirees are not confident in living out the rest of their retirement in comfort.


While the ideal age for retirement was identified as 57 years old, pre-retirees inching towards their dream retirement age are not confident in their prospects.

The current average retirement savings among pre-retirees is S$423,000. When asked about the ideal savings needed to retire comfortably, most respondents indicated S$1.1 million, revealing an average retirement savings gap of S$677,000.

Close to 1 in 2 respondents aged 40 to 59 said they wish they had started financial planning much earlier, with only 38% in this bracket believing they have enough to retire comfortably. Reasons for having a later-than-desired start to saving include the high cost of living in Singapore (65%), insufficient income (49%) and unexpected expenses and expenditure (44%).

With a current savings gap of over 60%, 37% of respondents believe that their standard of living will face an inevitable decline post-retirement. Almost 2 in 3 Singaporeans expect to continue working in retirement, though many are still hopeful about pursuing leisure activities in due time. Amongst the top anticipated pursuits for life in jubilee are spending more time with family and friends (58%), picking up a hobby and fulfilling a passion (49%), and volunteering (42%).


Cutting through the doom and gloom is an awakening amongst younger Singaporeans, with 2 in 3 respondents already considering their financial security for the future. Many started planning for retirement at age 33, six years prior to the average retirement planning age of their predecessors, and approximately 80% of their savings today go towards that goal. Other reasons that respondents are saving for include holidays (43%), property (35%), family (20%) and electronics (18%).  

Investments are also high on the list of priorities amongst respondents, with many supplementing their CPF savings through a standard savings account (77%), stocks, shares and funds (49%), insurance savings plan (45%), fixed deposits (45%) and endowments (29%).

Despite the positive growing momentum in retirement planning, inertia continues to stand in the gap between knowledge and action. A worrying 1 in 4 of Singaporeans have not considered when they would retire, identical to the number of respondents who cited that they have not starting planning at all.

“Against the backdrop of our nation’s rapidly greying population – with 1 in 4 Singaporeans ageing past 65 by 2030 – the time for us to future-proof our finances is now. No matter what life stage you are at, it is never too late to start planning for your retirement. We all want to have a good quality of life in our golden years with the freedom and flexibility to spend on priorities and safeguard against unpredictabilities. The uptick in retirement planning literacy as revealed by our study is heartening, but more still needs to be done to help current and future generations better grasp the cost of their desired retirement, and the corresponding steps that they will need to take to secure that lifestyle”, said Dr. Khoo Kah Siang, Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Singapore.


Retirement is an important life stage that all of us need to plan for. Regardless of age, it’s not too late to take action and achieve your retirement goals. To close the gap between Singaporeans’ current savings and their dream retirement life, Manulife launched SmartRetire (II), a whole-life, regular premium, investment-linked insurance plan that can be customised to the goals and budgets of policyholders across all life stages.

Manulife SmartRetire (II) offers a curated suite of funds and premiums starting at $200 per month, through which policyholders can look forward to retiring with a lump sum or stream of income from as early as 40 years old all the way to age 70 based on their lifestyle preferences and needs.

With timely and thoughtful retirement planning, building a comfortable nest egg to prepare for and pursue long-term needs and opportunities can be an attainable ambition.

Enjoy up to 25% additional welcome bonus1 when you sign up for Manulife SmartRetire (II). For more information about Manulife SmartRetire (II), visit


Click here to play the “If we only knew! (早知道)” campaign video.


*Note to editors: The survey, commissioned by Manulife Singapore, was conducted online by 2CV in early January to February 2021, among 1,000 respondents based in Singapore between the ages of 21 to above 60. Percentages may not total to 100 due to rounding.

1 - Welcome bonus will be credited into your account in the first 12 months upon receipt of each regular basic premium payment in the form of additional units. Yearly Loyalty Bonus will be paid starting from the next policy anniversary immediately after the end of Minimum Investment Period and every year thereafter until the end of the policy term in form of additional units. Terms and Conditions apply. Please refer to Product Summary for specific definitions.


About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we operate as Manulife across our offices in Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. We provide financial advice, insurance, and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2020, we had more than 37,000 employees, over 118,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 30 million customers. As of December 31, 2020, we had $1.3 trillion (US$1.0 trillion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made $31.6 billion in payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 155 years. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.


About Manulife Singapore

Established in 1899, Manulife Singapore provides insurance, retirement and wealth management solutions to meet the financial needs of our customers across their various life stages. Customers can readily access our solutions through our extensive multi-channel distribution network. In addition to our established agency force, we distribute our products through a number of specialist partners, including banks and financial advisory firms.


For more information on Manulife Singapore, visit


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Esther Subramaniam / Derick Lee         

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