Skip to main content Skip to notification content

02 Feburary 2016

2 in 3 Singapore investors regret not planning their investments better – Manulife survey

  • With 1 in 3 carrying debt1 excluding mortgages, Singapore has the third highest proportion of investors in debt among Asian markets surveyed.
  • Singapore investors not transferring knowledge to next generation
  • Investor sentiment towards Singapore and China plunges to all-time low

SINGAPORE – The latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index (MISI) survey revealed that although Singapore investors are diligent in saving and tracking their expenses, one in three (33%) hold debt1 excluding mortgages and the majority regret not planning their investments better (69%). When asked about their reasons for regret, investors cited not being more proactive in reviewing their portfolio (27%), and holding too much money in cash instead of making more investments (26%) as the top factors.

Singapore investors generally performed better in saving and tracking their expenses than their regional counterparts, with saving for retirement cited as their top financial priority. Despite this, Singapore has the third highest proportion of investors in debt1 across the eight Asian markets surveyed.

Close to half (46%) of indebted investors in Singapore owe S$10,000 or more, and 44% expect to take longer than one and a half years to clear their debt. 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 female investors (37% versus 28%), with a significantly higher average debt amount of $40,985 as compared to $25,502.

Naveed Irshad, President and Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Singapore, commented on the findings:

"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. 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."

Singapore investors not transferring knowledge to next generation

Close to half (44%) of Singapore investors who are parents do not teach their children about financial planning. 31% of these parents believe that children should learn on their own, while close to one in four attributed their inaction to their own lack of knowledge about financial planning (24%). However, when surveyed, 41% of young investors below the age of 35 cited their parents as the second most influential source of financial planning advice after themselves.

Investors pessimistic towards home and China markets

Singapore investors are feeling the effects of the lacklustre global economy, with sentiment towards the Singapore market dropping eight points in Q4 2015 to 21 points.

Investor sentiment towards China also plummeted by 19 points, reaching an all-time low of 5 points since this was first measured in Q2 2014. Most investors appear to be adopting a wait and see approach towards China, with close to half (48%) saying they would avoid investing further in China until its economy improves, and 43% feeling unsure about what is the best strategy for investing in China.

Wendy Lim, Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Asset Management (Singapore) commented:

"As Singapore’s top trading partner and one of the country’s key investors, any movement in China is bound to affect our economy. It is times like these that highlight the importance of building and having a diversified portfolio invested in different geographies and asset classes. Alternatively, retail clients can look to invest in a multi-asset fund that is dynamically managed across economic cycles to help ride through today's volatile market."

Examples of debt include personal loans, student loans, credit card debts etc. Mortgages are excluded.

For more findings and related information from the Manulife Investor Sentiment Index in Asia, please visit

About Manulife Investor Sentiment Index in Asia

Manulife’s Investor Sentiment Index in Asia (Manulife ISI) is a half-yearly, proprietary survey measuring and tracking investors’ views across eight markets in the region on their attitudes towards key asset classes and issues related to personal financial planning.

The Manulife ISI is based on 500 online interviews in each market of Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Respondents are middle class to affluent investors, aged 25 years and above who are the primary decision maker of financial matters in the household and currently have investment products.

The Manulife ISI is a long-established research series in North America. The Manulife ISI has been measuring investor sentiment in Canada for the past 17 years, and extended this to its John Hancock operation in the U.S. in 2011 and Asia in 2013. Asset classes taken into Manulife ISI Asia calculations are stocks/equities, real estate (primary residence and other investment properties), mutual funds/unit trusts, fixed income investment and cash.


This material, intended for the exclusive use by the recipients who are allowable to receive this document under the applicable laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdictions, was produced by and the opinions expressed are those of Manulife or any of its affiliates as of December 2015 and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. The information and/or analysis contained in this material have been compiled or arrived at from sources believed to be reliable but Manulife or any of its affiliates does not make any representation as to their accuracy, correctness, usefulness or completeness and does not accept liability for any loss arising from the use hereof or the information and/or analysis contained herein. The information in this document, including statements concerning financial market trends, are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Manulife or any of its affiliates disclaims any responsibility to update such information. Neither Manulife or any of its affiliates or its affiliates, nor any of their directors, officers or employees shall assume any liability or responsibility for any direct or indirect loss or damage or any other consequence of any person acting or not acting in reliance on the information contained herein. All overviews and commentary are intended to be general in nature and for current interest. While helpful, these overviews are no substitute for professional tax, investment or legal advice. Clients should seek professional advice for their particular situation. Neither Manulife nor any of their affiliates or representatives is providing tax, investment or legal advice. Past performance does not guarantee future results. This material was prepared solely for informational purposes, does not constitute an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of Manulife or any of its affiliates to any person to buy or sell any security and is no indication of trading intent in any fund or account managed by Manulife. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee returns or eliminate risk in any market environment. Unless otherwise specified, all data is sourced from Manulife.

Issued in Singapore by Manulife (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., part of Manulife. This material has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group that helps people achieve their dreams and aspirations by putting customers' needs first and providing the right advice and solutions. We operate as John Hancock in the United States and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance, as well as wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2016, we had approximately 35,000 employees, 70,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 22 million customers. As of March 31, 2017, we had $1 trillion (US$754 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made almost $26.3 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 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.Follow Manulife on Twitter @ManulifeNews or visit or

About Manulife Asset Management

Manulife Asset Management is the global asset management arm of Manulife, providing comprehensive asset management solutions for investors. This investment expertise extends across a broad range of public and private asset classes, as well as asset allocation solutions. As at December 31, 2016, assets under management for Manulife Asset Management were approximately C$461 billion (US$343 billion, GBP£278 billion, EUR€325 billion).

Manulife Asset Management’s public markets units have investment expertise across a broad range of asset classes including public equity and fixed income, and asset allocation strategies. Offices with full investment capabilities are located in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In addition, Manulife Asset Management has a joint venture asset management business in China, Manulife TEDA. The public markets units of Manulife Asset Management also provide investment management services to affiliates' retail clients through product offerings of Manulife and John Hancock. John Hancock Asset Management is a division of Manulife Asset Management.

Additional information about Manulife Asset Management may be found at