Standard Life: Singapore expats choose luxurious present over secure future

01 July 2013

British and European expatriates in Singapore are foregoing long-term security as they opt for luxurious lifestyles now, according to a new survey by Standard Life International.

Even though 85% of those surveyed said they were earning more in Singapore than they did in their previous jobs, and 78% said they had more disposable income than before, more than one-fifth (22%) said they are not currently saving anything for retirement.

Instead, they are spending their spare cash on vacation and travel, according to the survey, which Standard Life International said will be the first of a series to explore the spending and investment priorities of Singaporeans, and how they are planning for their future.

Some 10% of those surveyed said they spend more than 30% of their monthly income on school fees.

On the positive side, 73% of those interviewed by the Standard Life researchers said they were saving more than they did in the previous jurisdiction they lived in.

The company said it intends to follow up the survey unveiled today with studies of such other Standard Life target audiences as affluent Asians and non-resident Indians.  Standard Life’s “heritage, and brand recognition among the British and European expatriate communities” were described as the reasons this group was looked at first.

Neal Armstrong, chief executive and principal officer of Standard Life Singapore, noted that the city-state’s high cost of living, as regularly documented by global cost-of-living surveys such as those of Mercer, was one of the reason expats found it easy to “fall into the trap of spending more on short-term lifestyle luxuries, the abundance of nearby travel temptations, and the commitment of returning home to visit family”.

“This certainly seems to be the case for nearly a quarter of respondents [to the survey], who prioritise lifestyle choices over planning for their future,” Armstrong – who is himself an expatriate – added.

Other key findings of the Standard Life Survey for Expatriates:

  • More than two-thirds of those surveyed don’t see themselves retiring in the country where they are from, or are currently undecided about where they eventually will settle down
  • More than 80% of respondents currently allocate up to 20% of their salary for travelling

The survey was conducted online by ABN Impact, an Asia-based and Asia focused market research firm. Some 150 British and European expats were surveyed during two weeks in April of this year.

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