There’s another way to invest without having to pay cash upfront, and that’s by tapping on the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS).
Yes, using your CPF savings to invest is actually possible! Many have the concept that their CPF savings are locked in and untouchable until retirement, but that is not entirely true. Under the CPFIS, you have some access to your CPF savings for investment purposes, with a few caveats of course.
Whether you’re finding ways to build your retirement nest egg, make your CPF savings work harder or want to diversify your investment portfolio, here’s everything you need to know about CPFIS and how to get started.
What is the CPFIS?
The CPFIS is an investment scheme by CPF. It allows you to use a portion of your CPF Ordinary Account (CPF-OA) and Special Account (CPF-SA) for investment purposes.
What is the eligibility criteria for CPFIS?
To start investing under CPFIS, you have to meet these criteria:
- At least 18 years old
- Not an undischarged bankrupt
- Have more than $20,000 in your CPF-OA
- Have more than $40,000 in your CPF-SA
- Complete the mandatory Self-Awareness Questionnaire
Why is there a minimum sum you need to maintain in your CPF-OA and CPF-SA? This ensures that in the event your investments do not perform well (e.g. during a recession or market slump), you still have a cash cushion in your CPF.
How much can you invest?
For CPFIS-OA, you can invest up to 35% of your investible savings in stocks or funds, and 10% of your investible savings in gold or gold-related investments.
Investible savings refer to the amount you have in your CPF-OA, plus the amount you’ve previously withdrawn for housing and education.
|Current amount you have in your CPF-OA||$60,000|
|Total investible savings||$100,000|
|Total investible savings for shares and funds (35%)||$35,000|
|Total investible savings for gold and gold-related investments (10%)||$10,000|
|Actual amount you can invest (minus the minimum S$20,000 needed in CPF-OA)||$40,000|
|Actual investment amount and split||$35,000 for shares and funds|
$5,000 for gold and gold-related investments
CPFIS-SA, on the other hand, doesn’t require as many calculations, and you may invest any amount beyond the minimum balance of $40,000.
What types of investments can you purchase under CPFIS?
You can only purchase investment products that have been screened by the CPF. Depending on which CPF savings account you are intending to use, the products you can invest in will differ too.
The general rule of thumb is that savings from your CPF-SA cannot be used to purchase investment products that are labelled as high risk. You can refer to Investment Management Association of Singapore‘s report for more detailed risk profile information.
Savings from your CPF-OA, on the other hand, can be used to purchase investment products regardless of risk profile. Below is a list of investment products that you can purchase under CPFIS.
You can use your CPF-OA savings to purchase:
- Unit Trusts
- Investment-linked Insurance Products
- Endowment policies
- Singapore Government Bonds
- Treasury Bills
- Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
- Fund Management Accounts
- Shares (up to 35% of investible savings)
- Property Funds (up to 35% of investible savings)
- Corporate Bonds (up to 35% of investible savings)
- Gold ETFs (up to 10% of investible savings)
- Other gold products (up to 10% of investible savings)
You can use your CPF-SA savings to purchase:
- Unit Trusts (less high risk products)
- Investment-linked Insurance Products (less high risk products)
- Endowment policies
- Singapore Government Bonds
- Treasury Bills
There are hundreds of investment products that you can purchase under CPFIS, head over here for the detailed list.
How do you start investing with CPFIS?
Depending on which account you are using for investments, getting started will differ slightly.
Investing with CPF-OA
- Ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria mentioned above.
- Open a CPF investment bank account with DBS/POSB, OCBC or UOB (fees and charges are similar, pick one that is convenient for you).
- This step differs depending on who is managing your CPFIS.
- Independent investing: If you’re financially savvy enough and want to manage your own investments, then you’ll need to set up a brokerage account before you can actually start investing.
- Engage a broker or financial adviser: If you’ve made the choice to engage a financial professional to manage your CPFIS on your behalf, then all you have to do is pick your investment, sign the paperwork and wait for a week or so before your investments are accepted.
Investing with CPF-SA
Follow steps 1 and 3 from CPF-OA above.
Are there any risks involved with CPFIS?
Many think that since you are only allowed to purchase investments that have been screened, you will not make any losses — this is inaccurate. These are actual investments that have fluctuating values depending on the economy, and they are not guaranteed by the CPF.
An investment loss here may seem small since it was bought using your CPF savings that you do not have access to until retirement. However, its real consequence will be felt when you decide to purchase a HDB flat and need to tap on your CPF-OA for downpayment and monthly instalments.
CPFIS is a great way to diversify your financial portfolio without having to pay any cash upfront. Having said that, there are also risks involved and perhaps even more so, now that we are in the middle of a recession.
A study has shown that during the first quarter of 2020, unit trusts and ILPs combined listed under the CPFIS dipped 12.96% on average due to the pandemic.
Savings placed in your CPF-OA and CPF-SA generate returns of 2.5% p.a. and 4% p.a. respectively. These interest rates are risk-free, guaranteed by the CPF and higher than any offered by banks.
Unless you are absolutely confident in your abilities or in your broker to invest, it might be safer to leave your CPF savings where they are for now.
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By Geralyne Ong
A lover of gin and all things Nigella Lawson, Geralyne’s a big believer of #Adulting. She spends her leisure time serving fur-babies and doing as many mountain climbers and kettlebell swings as she possibly can.