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Survey: Good growth ahead for retail financial services in Singapore

T.C. Seow | July 13, 2012
Opportunities exist for financial services providers to offer greater range of products online along with growth in affluence.

Thirty-seven percent of online consumers in Singapore own investment products, according to the latest Nielsen Global Survey of Investment Attitudes.

The study revealed that one in three consumers who invest their money consider themselves conservative investors who can accept some minor fluctuations in the portfolio's value, i.e. about five percent potential principal losses.

However, the figure for Singapore represents 11 percentage points below the Asia Pacific average.

The report also found that 24 percent Singaporean consumers use a financial planner/adviser for personal finance and wealth decisions. This is higher than the Asia Pacific average (21 percent) and also ahead of countries such as Malaysia (19 percent), Australia (16 percent) and Japan (13 percent).

The Nielsen global study surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries on their investment strategies and financial habits. On payment for general shopping, dining, travel or entertainment expenses, 80 percent of respondents use cash. Meanwhile, 62 percent of those surveyed use credit cards.

The survey shows that when making personal finance or investment decisions, 45 percent of Singaporean online consumers do so independently, while 27 percent rely on friends, colleagues, relatives and expert commentary in the media to make their purchase decisions.

"There are clearly significant opportunities for financial services providers to engage with and become a bigger part of consumers' financial journeys, from wealth management services to payment options that reflect different lifestyles and needs, said Joan Koh, Nielsen's managing director for Singapore and Malaysia. "This is particularly important as consumers in the country are increasingly enjoying more sophisticated lifestyles along with the growth in affluence."

Online banking facilities
The report also shows that 37 percent of consumers in Singapore engage in some form of investments. Among this group of consumers, three quarters prefer to invest in stocks over other investment options. While stocks are favoured, the survey shows that 49 percent invest in mutual funds/unit trusts and structured investment products (35 percent). In addition, 30 percent invest their money in foreign currencies, bonds, precious metals and derivatives.

For their investment transactions, consumers in Singapore prefer to use online banking as well as branch banking facilities with equal intensity (both 61 percent).

Thirty-six percent of consumers in Singapore use online investment brokerage or investment service providers, which is a higher figure compared to the Asia Pacific average (28 percent). Twenty-seven percent use a financial planner/adviser to conduct their investment transactions, while mobile phones also play a significant part in investment transactions (27 percent).

"The high smartphone penetration level makes these mobile devices ideal tools for investors to make swift investment transactions and capture investment opportunities on the go," said Koh. "As mobile banking and investment services become even more widespread, we expect to see even more consumers utilising the mobile channels to make investment transactions."


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