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ECONOMY, MARKETS & INVESTING | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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8 in 10 Singaporean women leave major financial decisions to spouses: report

Only 20% of Singapore women engage in investing, insurance, retirement and other long-term planning.

Whilst more than 80% of women globally are highly involved in their short-term finances such as daily expenses, budgeting and cash flow, only 20% of Singapore women engage in the most important aspects of their financial well-being including investing, insurance, retirement and other long-term planning.

This is according to UBS Global Wealth Management’s latest Investor Watch report which surveyed 3,700 married women, widows and divorcees in Singapore, Hong Kong, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, UK and the US.

Women in Singapore and the US were found to opt out of long-term financial decisions because they believe their spouses know more. On the other hand, women in Italy and Brazil cited more urgent responsibilities, whilst women in Switzerland and Germany said their spouses never encouraged their involvement.

The report found that women in Singapore were the most likely to defer long-term financial decision to their spouses, with 72% of men leading financial decisions. This was followed by Hong Kong with 71% and Switzerland with 69%. Only 8% of women in Singapore shared the lead with their spouses, which is the lowest across the markets surveyed.

“Notably, women in Mexico and Brazil are the least likely to defer to their spouses. More than half of these women either make long-term financial decisions jointly or take the lead themselves, the highest among all the markets surveyed, at 30% and 33% respectively,” the report’s authors noted.

Demographically, younger women were reported to be more willing than older women to leave investing and financial planning decisions to their spouses, with 59% of women aged 20-34 deferring compared to 55% of women aged 51 and above. Singapore was found to have the highest deferral rate with 73% of young women leaving long-term decisions to their spouses.

According to the report, women who participate in long-term financial decisions with their spouses not only increase their chances of financial security, but feel more positive about the future. Nine in 10 women who made joint decisions cited feeling less anxious and more confident about their financial security, with nearly all feeling more prepared to manage their finances if something happened to their spouse.

“Few women realize the consequences of deferring until after a divorce or the death of a spouse. Some widows and divorcees were disappointed to discover hidden debt and inadequate savings that compromised their lifestyle,” the authors highlighted.

With the wisdom of hindsight, 76% of widows and divorcees said they wished they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions whilst they were married, with nearly eight in 10 (77%) urging other women to take a more active role.

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