Money is the top source of stress for most Singaporeans – but millennials in particular have it bad, according to survey published by investment management firm BlackRock on Thursday (Feb 28).
The survey polled 27,000 people in 13 countries – including a “nationally representative” sample of 1,500 Singapore respondents aged 25 to 74 – on their attitudes toward savings and retirement.
Having sufficient income was the main concern of 53 per cent of of Singaporeans, but this number rose to 63 per cent among the millennial age group, Blackrock said – beating out work, family and health as the top source of stress in life.
The researchers suggested that this could be due to millennials’ numerous competing financial goals, which included providing for aging parents, saving for a holiday, saving for retirement or an early retirement, and making more money to improve their immediate quality of life.
In comparison, the majority of older people tended to have one main financial goal: saving for retirement.
In addition, most millennial respondents said they knew their finances would be in better shape if they started investing. However, about 60 per cent of them did not know where to find reliable investment advice, with most turning to financial advisors, finance websites or family and friends for guidance.
Almost 90 per cent said they were “overwhelmed” by the sheer number of investment options available, while 77 per cent said they found investing difficult to understand, citing a “lack of clear and user-friendly information”.
A further 64 per cent felt that the investment programmes of financial institutions were not designed for their current financial situation.
Singapore’s millennial-age women in particular were investment-shy, with just 58 per cent of of this group owning investments, compared to 84 per cent of millennial-age women in Hong Kong and 74 per cent of millennial-age women in China, two other Asian cities included in the survey.
Millennial-age Singaporean women were also hesitant to use investments to save for retirement, with two-thirds of this group relying mainly on personal savings.
Researchers said that this finding was “surprising”, given Singaporeans’ high life expectancy and desire for an active retirement involving travel and pursuing hobbies.
However, they conceded that the “stress of having to balance short-term and long-term financial goals” could be the reason why millennials lagged behind in retirement savings.
Singapore survey respondents said they had learned about saving for retirement either through educating themselves, or after prompting from friends, financial advisors or insurance agents.
The survey also found that in general, those that had started saving for retirement felt “a higher sense of well-being” than those who had not.
Millennials that had already started saving for retirement tended to use either private pension or retirement plans, or deposited additional funds into their CPF account.