Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Malaysians lack financial planning, survey shows


Johnson. Photo by Chu Juck Seng

KUALA LUMPUR: A survey on Malaysians’ money-management skills revealed scores of respondents who do not posess adequate financial literacy to steward their personal funds towards a solid retirement plan.

The Citi Financial Quotient survey of 400 people aged above 18 has unearthed Malaysians’ personal savings and investment habits, leading to possible conclusions that many are not prepared for rainy days should they stop working.

According to the online survey in October 2007, some 63% of respondents do not consciously save a portion of their salaries, while 70% felt they had average to poor understanding on how to manage and invest their money.

Meanwhile, about 80% of those polled said they did not have a formal retirement plan, crafted with the help of a trained financial planner, while half were uncertain about their retirement funds.

“On average, Malaysians say that their current savings would last 10 weeks if they were to lose their jobs, but still had to pay all their regular day-to-day expenses.

“Six out of 10 Malaysians are not very confident, or not confident at all that their retirement savings will lead to a comfortable life in retirement,” said Citibank Bhd vice president for marketing, and head of segment for global consumer group, Timothy Johnson yesterday.

The poll could, essentially, suggest that while many Malaysians would like to save, less than a third actually stick to monthly budgets. Many are also believed to be unsure of how much money they should have upon retirement.

Against the survey’s financial quotient gauge of 100 points, Malaysian respondents scored an average of 49 points with 58% hitting below the 50-point mark, a trend indicating room for improvement in local consumers’ financial habits.

Meanwhile, Johnson said Citibank may include will-writing into its portfolio of services in Malaysia to capture a slice of the untapped market segment where rival financial services providers had already made their presence.

“That could be... (but) at this point in time, we have no plans for that,” he said in response to the survey’s findings that only about a tenth of the 400 respondents had written their wills as part of their estate planning.

Applying the findings against Malaysia’s estimated 27.5 million population could mean an estimated 2.8 million people here could have written their wills, traditionally done by law firms.

However, the local will-writing landscape has seen the emergence of professional firms like Rockwills, besides other financial entities such as OSK Trustees Bhd and HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd offering the service.
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