What Singapore young top earners say of financial success

01 Dec 2016 
SOURCE: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission

​By Rachael Boon


The top-earning young adults in Singapore are the least confident about achieving their wealth goals among millennials in a total of 10 markets surveyed in a new report.


Of respondents - referred to as millennials - here asked about the attitudes to wealth, only 44 per cent were confident about their financial success or consider themselves to have already achieved it, said the new report by Swiss private bank UBS. Millennials are classed as people who attained adulthood around the turn of the century.


The highest levels of confidence came from millennials in emerging markets such as India, with 77 per cent expressing optimism. Globally, 59 per cent were confident.


The young top earners here also preferred achieving experiences over possessions, a sentiment most prevalent in Singapore, the United States and Britain, compared with those in developing economies.


Dr Kang Soon-Hock, head of the social science core at SIM University, found it interesting that the research seems to suggest a shift away from possessions to experiences.


However, as the respondents were high-income earners, he said "such a response may not be at all surprising" and cautioned against reading too much into it.


UBS said: "The Singapore economy is slowing down and the reverberations are being felt. The lack of momentum in the markets means millennials here are more attached to traditional ways of working, and increasingly insecure."


The bank noted that the industries that are dominant in the Singapore market tend to be traditional, while the young adults aspire to work in tech-focused industries. But 26 per cent of respondents here expect their limited tech skills to have a negative influence on financial security.


Also, 30 per cent are the most likely to see themselves as less entrepreneurial than their parents.


In Singapore, 37 per cent said they considered their limited social networks to be a barrier to their wealth aspirations, compared with 28 per cent globally.


UBS polled more than 2,000 top earners from 10 markets, including China, Germany, Mexico and Russia, with 213 respondents from Singapore. Respondents were aged 18 to 34, with a university education and earnings in the top 20 per cent income bracket of their market. The minimum annual income of each person was $100,000.


UBS noted: "Millennials in Singapore feel their progress is stalling compared to their parents' generation, and are more likely to want the stability of a permanent job."


Mr Andre Loh, 31, founder of e-commerce firm ShopInSEA and former bank management associate, said: "There is a lower reward-to-risk incentive for younger Singaporeans to leave their comfortable jobs for the world of entrepreneurship than in the past, but I believe that Singapore is still producing younger entrepreneurs today."


Millennials' attitudes towards wealth

  • Survey subjects: More than 2,000 top-earning millennials
  • From: UAE, United States, Britain, China, India, Germany, Singapore, Mexico, South Africa and Russia.
  • Ages: 18 to 34
  • Background: University education and earnings in the top 20 per cent income bracket of their market.
  • Minimum annual income per person: $100,000.
  • Singapore: 213 respondents
  • 44 per cent here were confident about becoming financially successful or felt they have already achieved financial success
  • Highest levels of confidence: India with 77 per cent
  • Limited tech skills a barrier to success: 26 per cent here
  • Less entrepreneurial than their parents: 30 per cent here most likely to feel that way

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