ECONOMY, FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore

COVID-19 ‘dragged down' financial wellness: survey

Around 31% of respondents had issues paying off their housing loans.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global economic slowdown have dragged down Singaporeans’ financial wellness, according to the latest survey by OCBC.

Surveying 2,000 Singaporeans, the OCBC Financial Wellness Index dipped to 61 this year from last year’s 63.

Loss of jobs and cut in salaries impacted Singaporeans’ ability to pay their housing loan and affected their regular passive income.

About a third (31%) of the said respondents had issues paying off their housing loans, with 9% admitting they may be forced to sell off or downgrade. Whilst, passive income has been negatively affected due to the poor performance of dividends, which is the main source of passive income for most.

“Increasing affluence and the availability of more financial planning tools and products to investors do not necessarily translate to financial wellness,” OCBC Bank head of group brand and communications Koh Ching Ching said.

Singaporeans also had to put the longer-term financial goal of retirement on the backburner due to more pressing financial worries at hand, with 75% not on track with their retirement planning this year from last year’s 73%.

Millennials (49%) stood out among the age groups for having the most financial worries, compared with Gen X (37%) and Baby Boomers (26%).

Despite financial pressures, Singaporeans are saving more to cope with potential contingencies, with an average of 28% of income saved each month.

Around 47% of the respondents also said they are able to defray medical expenses if needed.

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