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Saving enough for retirement a key worry of middle class: survey

44% of region's respondents express worry; Singapore leads in this aspect, followed by Malaysia and Thailand

BEING able to have enough savings for retirement is one of the top concerns of the middle class in the region and in Singapore - ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN


BEING able to have enough savings for retirement is one of the top concerns of the middle class in the region and in Singapore.

A survey on the hopes and aspirations of the sandwiched class conducted by insurer AIA found that 44 per cent of the regional respondents are worried that they will not be able to retire comfortably. Singapore led in this category with 55 per cent of respondents saying so, followed by Malaysia (53 per cent) and Thailand (53 per cent).

Some 3,000 respondents who identified themselves as middle class, took part in the survey, which was conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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And it comes as no surprise that Singaporeans said they would like to have average savings of about US$898,000 before they retire, the highest in the region. This is almost five times that of the US$182,000 stated by Indonesians, who had the lowest expectations. The second highest amount of desired savings before retirement came from those surveyed in Malaysia, at an average of US$583,000.

The study also found that Singaporeans, like their counterparts in the region, said good health, a happy marriage or relationship and a comfortable retirement are the top priorities in life. This was the most striking observation, said Ng Keng Hooi, AIA's regional chief executive, who noted that there is a "strong work ethic" in the region. Other findings - two in three Singapore participants cited healthcare cost as a top concern, followed by saving for retirement (45 per cent) and unexpected emergencies (42 per cent).

Thirty-five per cent of Singaporeans said saving for their golden years is the most difficult goal to achieve. Starting their own business and travelling the world were the other two challenging life goals.

Despite the focus on money, the study showed that greater wealth does not lead to a much greater satisfaction for the middle class here.

Seventy per cent of those with less than S$200,000 in assets reported being satisfied with their lives and this figure rose slightly to 75 per cent for those with assets between S$200,000 and S$999,999.

For respondents with more than S$1 million in assets, the proportion who are satisfied increased eight percentage points to 83 per cent.

The majority of those surveyed think that children should be responsible for financially supporting their parents in old age, said the survey.

Tan Hak Leh, chief executive officer of AIA Singapore, said the findings affirm the company's broad strategies to focus on insurance protection in both life and medical, as well as long-term financial security. To this end, he said, AIA has launched a wellness programme, AIA Vitality, that gives incentives to policyholders to take responsibility for their health.

The company will also try to meet the needs of the growing middle class through its range of investment and savings solutions, said Mr Tan.

The study, AIA's second, was carried out between July and August. The first survey was done last year.

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