Key findings:

  • Women expect to outlive their partners. In Singapore, 64% believe that they will outlive their spouses.
  • Women place high value on their long-term financial needs. Around seven in ten Singapore women say retirement planning, long term care and insurance are top concerns.
  • Many women steer day-to-day finances but defer long-term planning and investment decisions to spouses.
  • Singapore women with more investible assets are more likely to take the lead.

Singapore, 7 March 2019 – The majority of women surveyed in Singapore place importance on their long-term financial needs. For example, 65% of Singapore women surveyed say retirement planning is a top concern while 69% say long term care and insurance planning (64%) are important as well, according to the latest global UBS Investor Watch report "Own Your Worth" of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs).

The majority of women in Singapore (77%) either take the lead or share responsibility equally with spouses when it comes to managing day-to-day expenses. Similarly, the majority of women in Singapore (73%) participate in large purchase decisions. But when it comes to long-term financial decisions, 72% of women in Singapore defer long term financial decisions to their spouses.

"When 58% of women around the world—including the next generation of Millennials—defer to men on important financial decisions, we need to ask why," said Paula Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer and Group Managing Director, UBS Wealth Management.
"This dynamic could go on for generations to come, unless both men and women make a commitment to engage in financial decisions together."

Reasons holding women back

There are two major reasons for women to defer their investing and planning decisions to spouses. 82% of women (globally) and 90% of women (Singapore) think that their spouses know more about long-term finances. 79% of women (globally) and 86% of women (Singapore) said they tend to divide family duties with their spouses and focus on other responsibilities. 

Commenting on the findings, Tracey Woon, Vice Chairman Asia Pacific, UBS Global Wealth Management said, " Many of our female clients express needs that are different from their spouses. This is why we have actively engaged them on interests that are close to the heart, everything from family’s succession planning, to philanthropy to sustainable investments. This new UBS study highlights the opportunities for women to question assumptions and examine long-term wealth planning needs."

Women with more investible assets are more likely to take the lead

For Singapore, one in five women with US$1-2 million investible assets take the lead in making financial decisions. The percentage increased to 34.2% for women with more invested assets (US$5 million and above). Here, we see that women with more investible assets are more likely to take the lead in financial planning.

Working together works

Women who share equal responsibility for long-term investing with their spouse said there were clear benefits. Of those women who make joint decisions, nearly all in Singapore (96%) and globally (94%) feel more confident about their financial future. 99% of women in Singapore also mentioned that if something happen to their spouses, they will already know all about the finances, which increase their chances of financial security.

Millennials most likely to defer

Millennial women are more likely than older generations to defer to spouses when it comes to financial decision making. Globally, 59% of women between the ages of 20 to 34 let their spouse take the lead, compared to 55% of women aged over 50. This reached a high of 73% in Singapore, closely followed by 69% of millennial women in the UK. Latin America was the only region to buck the trend, with just 41% of millennial women in Mexico and 40% in Brazil deferring to their spouses. In fact, women across all age groups in Latin America were the least likely to defer to their spouses.

The key conclusions from all 9 markets can be found on the main UBS Investor Watch website:

About the research

* From September 2017 to January 2019, UBS surveyed 3,652 women. Of these women, 2,251 were married with at least $1m in investable assets. Others (1,401) were either divorced or widowed. These women had at least $250k in investable assets. UBS also conducted in-depth interviews with 71 female respondents. The entire global sample was split across nine markets: Brazil, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, Switzerland, Italy, the UK and the US.

About UBS Global Wealth Management

As the world's largest wealth manager, UBS Global Wealth Management provides comprehensive advice, solutions and services to wealthy families and individuals around the world. Clients who work with UBS benefit from a fully integrated set of wealth management capabilities and expertise, including wealth planning, investment management, capital markets, banking, lending and institutional and corporate financial advice.

Media contacts:

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Julie Yeo
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