Saturday, 19 September 2015

More making voluntary contributions to CPF accounts

According to the CPF Board, these top-ups amounted to about S$500 million last year, up 25 per cent compared to 2013.
By Linette Lim, Channel NewsAsia, 18 Sep 2015

More Singaporeans are making voluntary contributions to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts. According to the CPF Board, these top-ups amounted to about S$500 million last year, up 25 per cent compared to 2013.

One such Singaporean is former investment analyst Lim Chin Yong, who retired in 2012. The 56-year-old has been making voluntary contributions to his own CPF account for the past two years, to earn higher interest on his savings.

Last year, he also topped up his wife's retirement account, so that she can be eligible for the CPF LIFE Scheme.

"CPF LIFE to me - at the time when I was looking at it, in 2014 - when you contribute, a minimum of S$148,000, it will guarantee you something like S$1,000 to S$1,200 from 65 until (you turn) 80 or 85, or until you die. S$1,000 to S$1,200 - it doesn't take you far, so I decided to put money into my wife's account so that she can have her own income stream of S$1,200 when she retires,” said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim is not alone. According to the CPF Board, there were nearly 74,811 top-ups last year, up 24 per cent compared to 2013.

Said Associate Professor Jeremy Goh from the Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business: “When people make decisions like topping up their CPF accounts and looking at how much are the rates that are being paid, they are also looking at what the alternatives are. So if the alternatives out there are not as attractive as the one offered by CPF, then they will choose to top up. When people top up their CPF accounts, it just signals to me at least, that the rates seem pretty attractive.”

If what you want are risk-free returns and a higher annuity payout after retirement, financial advisors say you may be better off putting your spare cash into your CPF accounts. But for those with no spare cash on hand, it might be best to increase your income, experts recommend.

Said Mr Tan Siak Lim, financial advisory director at Financial Alliance: "There are not a lot of solutions, to be honest, other than to try to increase their income, because everything starts from your income. If you don't have excess funds, obviously you'd want all your money to be out, for your daily bread-and-butter necessities."

Currently, Singaporeans with sufficient balances in their Retirement Accounts at age 55 will automatically be placed under the CPF LIFE scheme. This is S$60,000 for those turning 55 on 1 January 2016 or after.

For those turning 55 between Jan 1, 2013 to Dec 31, 2015, there must be at least S$40,000 in the Retirement Account at 55 years old, or at least S$60,000 in the Retirement Account at payout eligibility age, which is currently at 65.

According to the CPF Board website, those with insufficient funds can also apply to join CPF LIFE.

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