This is from November but still interesting.

Personal wealth per adult grew strongly in Singapore up to 2012. Since then it has risen slowly in domestic currency units, and declined a little in terms of US dollars. Despite this drop, average wealth remains at a high level – USD 268,780 per adult
in mid-2017, compared to USD 115,560 in 2000. The rise was mostly caused by high savings, asset price increases, and a favorable rising exchange rate from 2005 to 2012. Singapore is now ninth in the world in terms of household wealth per adult, giving it the highest rank in Asia.
– Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2017 (source)

The report puts our mean and median wealth per adult at 268,776 USD and 108,850 USD respectively. This isn’t hard to imagine for most people whose HDB flat has more or less been paid up for* which probably puts most middle to senior Singaporean residents in this category. Also, the study looked at wealth per adult which excludes children who are unlikely to have any substantial assets to their name. In other words, the wealth of a family with children is not diluted to the presence of children.

What got me searching for the wealth of an average Singaporean is because I was updating my own spreadsheets the other day and I was quite surprised at the total staring back at me on my spreadsheet.

Also, I had a hunch that I might be considered pretty well-off by other people’s standards. The problem for me was: What is “other people’s standards”? So now, I finally have some idea.

What’s interesting is that the CS report takes its data from the Department of Statistics Singapore (SingStat) so let’s dive a little deeper into what SingStat counts as assets and liabilities in calculating net worth.

Thankfully, that can be summed up in one picture.

 

 

Singapore Household Balance Sheet

Singapore Household Balance Sheet (source)

So looking at this, I’m actually quite surprised that the average Singaporean adult only has 268,776 USD (362, 815 SGD) in net worth if his primary residence and CPF is included in the calculation. Here’s why.

A typical four-room flat should be worth around 400,000 SGD. Assuming that it’s jointly owned by a couple, that would be about 200,000 SGD per adult. Are the mortgage and other loans so huge that their Cash, CPF monies and life insurance** add only 163,000 SGD per adult to their net worth? Furthermore, the average has been skewed upwards by outliers as the median isn’t even half the average.

 

So, am I missing something here? Or is the average Singaporean’s net worth really the sum of his/her HDB flat and CPF and they save next to nothing plus carry a mortgage and some personal debt (e.g. credit card, car loan)?

Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

 

 

Notes:

* You can quibble about whether it’s appropriate to include your primary residence as part of your net worth but that’s how it was done in their study.

** I’m not even going to bothering adding equities as the average Singaporean probably doesn’t have much invested in the markets. Most people I know treat the market as a quick punt. There are very few people my age or even slightly older who have anything more than 50,000 SGD in the markets. For every one of me, there’s probably 7-8 more who have at most a five-digit portfolio.