Seedly Personal Finance Festival 2024: Panel Round-Up

SingSaver team

SingSaver team

Last updated 16 May, 2024

This year, Seedly's highly anticipated Personal Finance Festival on 6 April was received with great reception and enthusiastic participation once again. Here's a rundown of what happened!

Regardless of whether you're just beginning your personal finance journey or already knees deep in the trenches of your 10-year plan, there are always new insights to glean from the impressive lineup of panellists at Seedly's Personal Finance Festival (PFF).

Like last year, a few of us at SingSaver had the privilege of moderating several panels on topics ranging from future-proofing investments to building wealth through properties and more! 

The afternoon was filled with deep, thoughtful discussions by speakers from all walks of life, and we're sure this year's Seedlyfest left an indelible impression on many attendees. 

But if you couldn't make it and feel FOMO right now, don't worry, here's a summary of what you missed!

Table of contents


Disclaimer: This piece serves as a summary of the panels that transpired during Seedly's PFF. All opinions and advice shared belong to the original panellists and are not intended as professional financial advice offered or endorsed by Seedly or SingSaver.


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Property: How to Build Wealth Through Property

If you've ever wanted to dabble in the art of property investments, the panel featuring Marko Goh (Founder, Marko & Friends), Eric Chew (Founder, Credit Savvy), and led by Tri Wira Efendi (Business Development Manager, SingSaver) provided an excellent look into this debate.

A common school of thought many hold involves investing in properties overseas, mostly due to cheaper land costs, offsetting foreign income tax, or simply acquiring a second residence. 

While these reasons are valid, Marko and Eric actually offered an opposing opinion and claimed that it is safer and more worthwhile investing in our local property market instead. Here are their reasons:

Foreign property market
Local property market (SG)
Private developers possess control over property master plans, subject to change anytime.
Singapore's master plan is managed by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), providing greater assurance and security.
Overseas countries might be prone to natural disasters, political instability, and other external factors influencing the property market.
Singapore is a relatively stable country on most fronts, including fairly reliable government policies.
Property prices are more volatile due to fluctuations in demand and supply factors. Prices are more susceptible to inflate exponentially.
Property prices rise at a controlled pace due to limited land size and growing population.

Besides that, the panellists also emphasised the importance of risk assessment, planning strategically, and capital appreciation. 

As Marko and Eric posit, Singapore offers a "stable market" and boasts a "potential for appreciation", particularly in high-energy areas like CBD. Additionally, due to unforeseen risks and uncertainties, foreign property investments might prove to be less reliable than local ones.

Bottom line is, the local property market isn't as futile as it seems; in fact, the extent of pros of investing in Singapore's real estate could balance out their cons.

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Wealth: Better Wealth Management For High-Net-Worth Individuals (HNWI)

Did you know: In 2023, it was reported that 3,400 high-net-worth individuals migrated to Singapore alone. The influence of this is perhaps most profoundly seen in how Singapore has just been ranked the fourth most wealthiest city in the world, just overtaking London in 2024.

If these stats aren't enough to prove that many Singaporeans are pretty rich, maybe this panel might convince you better.

Speaking with Dr. Wei Dai (Head of Investment Research & Vice President, Dimensional Fund Advisors), Gerald (Founder & CEO, Beansprout), and Raymond (Head of Wealth Management & Preferred Banking, CIMB), they touched on several key talking points about growing and managing wealth:

  • What factors should be considered when determining strategic asset allocation?
  • What are unique investment opportunities for HNWI in wealth management?
  • What is the utility of ESGs in investment strategies? 

Dr. Wei Dai championed the notion of "being informed on news, but not informed by news." That is, one shouldn't allow the media and market predictions or trends to fully dictate one's investment strategy. Investment decisions should stem from sound reasoning and financial science.

Meanwhile, Gerald highlighted an interesting point, citing that HNWI often have access to a larger network of investment products such as private equity and private credit. Raymond echoed this view and explained that oftentimes, these products aren't available to regular retail clients due to the need to invest in large ticket sizes.

While this is a privilege for HNWIs, the same underlying strategic principle applies in general: just because you can doesn't mean you should add every single product to your portfolio.

This ties into Raymond's last point, where he reiterated that investing principles should remain consistent regardless of net worth—so much so that tools like fixed-income securities remain popular choices among HNWIs. Diversity and discipline are always key, even in market volatility.

Regarding ESG, all panellists agreed that ESG options are becoming increasingly popular, emphasising the importance of aligning investments with personal values and sound investment principles.


Investment: Crafting An Investment Strategy For Risk Averse Singaporeans

In this panel discussion, which covered fixed asset classes, Sandra Tan (Strategic Investments & Partnerships Associate, MoneyHero Group), spoke with Dawn Fiona, (Founder, SG Budget), Badem Kel Vin Tan (Kelvin Learns Investing, Youtube), Jo-Ann Chia (Senior Portfolio Manager, Nikko Asset Management Asia Limited), and Sunny Leung (Head of ETF, Indexing and Smart Beta Sales, Asia ex Japan Amundi).

To preface the conversation, Sandra raised several talking points:

  • Perception differences between investing concepts vs. actual investing
  • Popular asset classes in Singapore and corresponding risks
  • Proper money allocation – long-term vs. short-term

Dawn and Kelvin agreed that typical investments among Singaporeans constituted Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs), fixed deposits, cash management funds, and CPF. However, a portfolio based solely on fixed-income products cannot keep up with or beat inflation; worse still, it limits the maximum amount of money one can reap from investments throughout their entire life.

Kelvin further elaborated that too many Singaporeans fixate on the risk of losing money rather than the risk of not earning money, thus highlighting the need to diversify into higher-risk products offering better returns, such as ETFs and unit trusts. He also shared that his personal portfolio shifted from a 60-40 split to more equities due to the CPF component.

Sunny added that risk assessment and portfolio balancing according to life stages and financial goals are crucial, too. Early on, higher-risk portfolios might be appropriate, but a more balanced, moderate-risk approach might be needed as priorities change. There's no one-size-fits-all portfolio.

Jo-Ann and other panellists also dispelled the myth that equity tends to be riskier and fixed income is always safe. If anything, fixed income itself has multiple subclasses ranging from low to high risk. For instance, anyone can invest in SSBs with a minimum of S$500, while corporate bonds could require a minimum investment of S$250,000 or US$200,000. She suggested investing in bond funds instead, offering a lower entry barrier of about S$1,000 and exposure to immediate diversification, including fixed income. 

The panel also touched on cryptocurrencies as a new asset class, debating their volatility and sustainability in one's portfolio. Regardless, the panel's common consensus was that long-term investment success lay in understanding one's aspirations, risk tolerance, and time horizon. In doing so, maintaining a balanced, comprehensive, and well-diversified portfolio aligned with personal goals becomes attainable.


Investment: Future-Proof Investing: Key Strategies & Trends For 2024 and Beyond 

In this panel, Audrey Ho, CFA, CAIA, (Investment Consultant, Citibank Singapore) was joined by Ankita Thakur (Head of Marketing, SingSaver), to discuss how investors should approach investing in an uncertain world.

Ankita kicked off the conversation with a global survey conducted by global asset management firm Franklin Templeton which polled young Singaporean investors aged between 18 and 35 years old. The survey revealed that while half of the respondents agreed on the importance of investing at a young age and its importance for financial planning, one third felt that "making the right investment is difficult" and "investment makes me anxious".  

In response, Audrey shared that one way to deal with uncertainty is to future-proof your investments by having clear, tangible goals and understanding investment risks, adding that global economic trends such as rising interest rates and inflation can also shape your investing decisions.

Additionally, she outlined the key trends that should be on investors' radar, according to Citi's unstoppable trends report:

  • Healthcare
  • Renewable energy
  • AI
  • The US-China rivalry

And shared some key insights for future-proofing your investments, which include:

  • Investing in emerging and other developed markets as they might offer better growth opportunities
  • Investing in resilient sectors such as healthcare and renewable energy
  • Staying informed on technological and geopolitical shifts so that you can adapt your investment strategies accordingly
  • Focusing on investments with strong fundamentals that are likely to sustain and grow in the long term 

Family: Navigating Singapore's Ageing Population: Insurance Solutions For Health and Longevity

It's estimated that by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 and older. By 2050, that figure is set to double, which means 47% of the population will be 65 and older. 

To discuss the changing demographic landscape, Helen Shen, Group Head of Health, Singlife; Goh Theng Kiat, Chief Customer Officer, Prudential Assurance Company Singapore; and Chan Wai Kit, Executive Director, Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore, talked about the various insurance solutions and the importance of insurance in one's financial planning. This panel was moderated by Thomas Kapeller, Group Head of Insurance, MoneyHero Group. 

Wai Kit touched on the large protection gap among the population based on studies conducted by the LIA every five years. The study's findings revealed a 21% mortality protection gap and a 74% critical illness protection gap due to medical inflation, suggesting that most of the population is underinsured. The large protection gap makes us vulnerable to financial difficulties and hardships due to unexpected events, which can deter our financial planning for retirement. He also discussed the various collaborative efforts between the government and insurers to effectively manage healthcare costs. 

Helen shared that while most people think about having million-dollar retirement plans, most neglect healthcare costs or healthcare episodes, which aren't just limited to physical as they can be mental as well, such as dementia or Alzheimer's. These healthcare costs will become more expensive due to medical inflation. She added that insurers are coming up with solutions to help customers manage their health along the way. 

Meanwhile, Theng Kiat echoed Helen's sentiments that insurers offer solutions catering to changing demographics, such as products with longer policy coverage.  


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Family Finances 101: For The Singles & The Married

We've discussed much about personal finance, but what about family finances? With Singapore's ageing population and rising family costs, how can we tackle these issues?

Regarding assisting parents with finances, Benjamin (Global Corporate Partnerships and Sales Manager, Zora Health) weighed in on understanding and balancing parents' expectations. Some parents might view receiving allowance as their children's act of filial piety, whereas others might find it redundant or feel too proud to accept. Lisa (Lisa's Adulting in Singapore) suggested initiating this much-needed conversation from neutral standpoint like asking about their monthly expenses.

Josh (Youtuber & Founder, The Astute Parent) recommended boosting parents' cash flow through simple investments like Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) and leveraging on CPF Life, rather than leaving liquid cash in the bank vulnerable to scams.

Recently, rising living costs and infertility issues have deterred couples from starting families, leading some to consider egg freezing. Benjamin highlighted that notwithstanding storage costs, egg freezing is undoubtedly expensive – ranging between S$10,000 to S$15,000 for public clinics, and S$14,000 to S$25,000 for private clinics. Moreover, without available grants or MediSave coverage, such procedures remain largely inaccessible for many.

To conclude, the group agreed that clear communication and building savings through early retirement planning are key to ensuring financial stability for you and your loved ones.

 

Read these next:
Should You Invest in a Private Landed Property or Condo?
Can You Real Estate Investment Hedge Against Inflation?
A Complete Guide to Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
Retirement Planning – Is CPF Life Sufficient and What’s Considered “Enough”?
The Complete Guide To Singapore Savings Bond (SSB) — Return Rates And How It Works
Complete Guide To CPF LIFE: Facts, Myths And How To Make It Work Harder
CareShield Life And MediSave Care: Everything You Need To Know

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