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Only one in eight Singaporeans feels strongly confident that he will achieve his financial life goals and one in ten agrees that he is very knowledgeable in financial matters
Singapore, 15 January 2016 – Singaporeans consistently rank in the bottom three among 19 markets on confidence in their financial strategy and know-how, despite Singapore being Asia’s top financial hub and the fourth most competitive financial centre in the world. This, together with Singapore’s expected slowing growth for the rest of the decade and the global uncertainty, starkly highlights the importance for Singaporeans to start planning for their long-term financial security.
At the same time, Singaporeans show strong interest in financial planning to get on track financially, found a recent survey released by Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) and conducted by, Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB), the owner of the international CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification program outside the U.S.
The critical missing link between action and intention: Not knowing whom to trust.
Steven Ong, Chief Executive Officer, FPAS, said, “Today’s weak economy and uncertain global outlook make it crucial for us to carefully evaluate our financial strategies to ensure that we safeguard our assets for the future. As most people start to review their finances in the new year, there’s no better time than now to reinforce our financial strategies and place ourselves in a good position to achieve our financial goals.”
Strong interest in financial planning
Overall, Singaporeans are conscious of the need to manage their finances so they can plan for the future and pursue their dreams.
Financial professionals are most valued by Singapore respondents for creating personalised long-term plans (54 per cent) and being a trusted source of advice (54 per cent), followed by helping to simplify and explain financial matters (53 per cent) and providing peace of mind (53 per cent).
58 per cent are interested in retirement planning services, 48 per cent in investment planning services and 42 per cent in budgeting, cash flow and debt management help, higher than global averages (50 per cent, 38 per cent and 36 per cent respectively).
While retirement planning is seen to be the most helpful financial planning service globally, this is of slightly greater interest to middle-aged and older consumers. Younger consumers are more interested in budgeting, cash flow and debt management. This late interest in retirement planning among Singaporeans is consistent with the findings from a 2014 retirement survey by DBS, which found that those who have started planning for their retirement did so at age 28 while those that have not started planning yet expect they will do so when they are 38.
Key to turning the tide on low financial confidence: Trust
Greater trust in the financial planning industry is needed to turn the tide on the low financial confidence among Singaporeans. More than seven in 10 (72 per cent) Singaporeans agree that they do not know whom to trust, highlighting the top barrier to financial planning.
This top barrier underlines the other key barriers to financial planning, which include excessive work/paperwork (69 per cent), the perceived confusing nature of financial planning (68 per cent) and perceived complexity of the task (66 per cent).
Singaporeans rely most on their trusted friends and family for financial matters and planning (53 per cent), followed by financial planners (45 per cent). One third of Singapore respondents (34 per cent) are unsure whether financial planning is regulated and 15 per cent believe it is not, which may contribute to the lack of trust.
Savvy consumers increasingly seek this additional assurance through financial professionals with financial planning certifications.
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, known among 42 per cent of Singaporeans, is one such example. The survey found that CFP® professionals earn higher percentages of “excellent” ratings compared with other financial professionals on multiple dimensions including honesty and integrity (44 per cent vs 31 per cent), personalised service (38 per cent vs 24 per cent) and prioritising clients’ interests (32 per cent vs 21 per cent). On average, clients working with CFP® professionals spend more than 1.5 times as much time with their financial planner in any given year.
“We are pleased that the rigorous qualification criteria and courses for the CFP® certification, which entail background checks and strong financial knowledge, have led to greatly increased client satisfaction and financial confidence. We will continue working to uplift the financial industry through continual investment in trust-building initiatives to improve Singaporeans’ financial confidence and build a secure future for all,” Steven added.
Singaporeans working with CFP® professionals also express greater financial confidence. 24 per cent agree that they are very successful in sticking with their financial strategies, 23 per cent are strongly confident that they will achieve their financial life goals and 19 per cent consider themselves knowledgeable in finance and financial matters, compared with 12 per cent, 13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively among those working with other financial professionals.
The CFP® designation is Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) standards accredited. It is also approved under the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA’s) SkillsFuture initiative, which allows Singaporeans age 25 and above to use their SkillsFuture credits for the CFP certification course. The examination fees are claimable under Employment and Employability Institute’s (e2i’s) Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP), further encouraging more Singaporeans to take up the course and boost their financial knowledge.
A globally-recognised mark, CFP® certification also eases financial planning for global citizens with investments in different markets. FPAS and FPSB China recently signed a CFP® certification cross-border Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening cooperation and exchanges among the Singapore and mainland Chinese markets in financial planning and wealth management. This agreement opens the door to encourage individuals with investments across these markets to engage financial professionals in each market, who will each bring knowledge of their local markets and work together to tailor a comprehensive financial plan for the individual.
The survey was conducted from June to July 2015 across 19 markets, where 19,092 adults, including 1,001 from Singapore, with primary or shared responsibility for household financial decisions were interviewed.
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About Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS)
Established on 1 December 1998, the Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS) is a non-profit professional association dedicated to developing and promoting an industry providing unbiased financial advice to the Singaporean public. FPAS is the professional organisation for the financial planning industry in Singapore and is the organisation representing qualified financial planners.
FPAS is part of a global assembly of financial planning bodies, and a licensee of the Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd., owner of the international CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification program outside the U.S. FPSB has a nonprofit member organization in the following 26 territories: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. At the end of 2014, there were 157,586 CFP professionals worldwide.
After Australia and Japan, FPAS was the third member to join the federation of CFP® certification bodies in the Asia region and the tenth member of FPSB internationally.
More information here: https://fpas.org.sg/
About Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB)
FPSB manages, develops and operates certification, education and related programs for financial planning organizations to benefit the global community by establishing, upholding and promoting worldwide professional standards in financial planning. FPSB demonstrates its commitment to excellence with the marks of professional distinction – CFP, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER and CFP Logo mark – which it owns outside the United States. FPSB has developed a framework for financial planning that integrates competency, ethics and professional practice standards for financial planning, along with financial planner certification requirements in the areas of education, assessment and ongoing competency. All organizations and individuals engaged in financial planning can embrace FPSB’s professional framework for financial planning.
More information here: https://www.fpsb.org
About the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification
FPSB has specific requirements for the global CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification program. To administer the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification program, FPSB enters into licensing and affiliation agreements with nonprofit or equivalent organizations that become FPSB Members. By meeting and maintaining FPSB’s affiliation requirements and standards, FPSB Members are authorized to administer the CFP certification program in a territory, on behalf of FPSB.
To obtain CFP certification, individuals must meet rigorous initial certification requirements adapted to local marketplace needs by FPSB Members. To maintain their right to use the CFP Marks, CFP professionals must complete ongoing renewal requirements.
FPSB’s standards are designed to be consistent across borders; however, each organization administering CFP certification may adapt the standards to fit with local regulations, laws and products. These standards are in compliance with FPSB’s public-interest mission of benefiting the clients and potential clients of financial planners looking to identify qualified financial planning professionals around the world.
The standards and certification requirements that support FPSB’s global professional framework for financial planning are developed using an extensive drafting and consultative process. FPSB’s process relies on input from standards-setting experts, certification specialists, practicing financial planners, academics and consumer representatives from around the world, as well as from FPSB’s nonprofit member organizations representing close to 160,000 CFP® professionals in 26 territories.
More information here: https://www.fpsb.org/cfpmarks.html
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 Global Financial Centres Index 18, Z/Yen Group Limited (2015). Available at: http://www.longfinance.net/publications.html?id=953
 Singapore settles for slower growth for rest of decade, The Business Times (2015). Available at: http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-settles-for-slower-growth-for-rest-of-decade
 Retirement Planning in Singapore, DBS Bank (2014). Available here: https://www.posb.com.sg/iwov-resources/pdf/retirement/retirement_report.pdf