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Two in three Singapore investors regret not planning their investments better: Manulife

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Singapore investors may be diligent in saving and tracking their expenses, but the majority (69 per cent) regret not planning their investments better. One in three also hold debt, excluding mortgages.

SINGAPORE investors may be diligent in saving and tracking their expenses, but the majority (69 per cent) regret not planning their investments better. One in three also hold debt, excluding mortgages.

This was according to results from the latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index (MISI) survey.

When asked about their reasons for regret, investors cited not being more proactive in reviewing their portfolios (27 per cent), and holding too much money in cash instead of making more investments (26 per cent) 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 debt across the eight Asian markets surveyed.

Close to half (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.

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 per cent versus 28 per cent), with a significantly higher average debt amount of S$40,985 as compared to S$25,502.

Naveed Irshad, president and chief executive officer of Manulife Singapore, said: "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."

Singapore investors are also not transferring knowledge to the next generation, the survey found.

Close to half (44 per cent) of Singapore investors who are parents do not teach their children about financial planning. Three in 10 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.

However, when surveyed, 41 per cent of young investors below the age of 35 cited their parents as the second most influential source of financial planning advice after themselves.

For the moment, Singapore investors are pessimistic towards home and China markets. They feel the effects of the lacklustre global economy, with sentiment towards the Singapore market and China dropping.

"Most investors appear to be adopting a wait-and-see approach towards China, with close to half (48 per cent) saying they would avoid investing further in China until its economy improves, and 43 per cent feeling unsure about what is the best strategy for investing in China," the report noted.

Wendy Lim, CEO of Manulife Asset Management (Singapore), said that it is volatile 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," she added.