What’s net worth? It’s simply the amount you own minus what you owe. Or in financial terms, your assets minus your liabilities.
What assets could I possibly own?
You may not be a millionaire, but as long as you have some money saved, you are actually an asset owner.
Here are some common assets most people have:
And if you own properties overseas, you should include the value of them as well.
Read more: How to Recognise a Good Investment Property
These are stocks, exchange-traded funds, bonds, and other financial instruments.
Nearly half of a Singaporean’s wealth would be invested in these financial products, which can also include life policies and fixed deposits.
Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings
The money in your Ordinary Account, Special Account, Medisave, Retirement Account, and SRS primarily are considered assets, mostly to fund your retirement.
Good ol’ cash
The money you have in your bank accounts is also an asset.
The resale value of your car or motorcycle contributes to your total assets. Typically, a car is deregistered and scrapped after the 10-year Certificate of Entitlement runs its course. You can include the current resale value of your vehicle in your net worth.
What counts as liabilities
Mortgage loans refers to the amount you owe for your property. Most Singaporeans have to take loans to buy a house. Mortgages are typically one of the largest financial obligations and takes the longest time to repay.
Renovations can cost anywhere from S$20,000 to over S$100,000, depending on how extensive it is and the types of fittings you chose.
Learn more: Are Renovation Loans Worth Taking Up?
Another common loan young adults have are student loans. A Singaporean studying at a local university who took out a loan typically has S$20,000 to S$25,000 in debt.
New car loans charge an annual interest of 2.49% on average, and range between S$120,000 and S$190,000 depending on the type of car.
Your income is subject to income tax, so you should think about how much you have to pay the government when working out your net worth.
Why it’s important to know your net worth
If you’re in the black…
Knowing your net worth is a good indicator of your overall financial health, so that you will not overestimate or underestimate what you have.
You will be able to make better financial decisions, such as choosing to invest more if you realise you have enough cash on hand. Your financial advisor will also find the information useful when he or she helps you plan for the long-term.
Keeping track of your net worth helps you chart your progress towards milestones such as marriage and retirement as well.
If you’re in the red…
Debt is concerning, but it is not always a cause for alarm. For example, if you are still a student or just graduated, you know that your salary in the future will help to clear your student loans in time. A mortgage also often takes a few decades to pay off.
Knowing your net worth can help you decide which area to prioritise to improve your finances.
Calculating your net worth
You can use free online net worth calculators, such as this SmartWealth calculator. It will determine your net worth based on information such as your CPF savings and credit card debt.
How do I compare with other Singaporeans?
The average adult in Singapore was worth S$449,543, according to Credit Suisse Research Institute’s Global Wealth Report (2021). However, the mean is skewed as there are many high-net-worth individuals residing in Singapore due to its favourable tax rates and business-friendly environment.
Instead, Singaporeans had S$117,068 in median net worth, a better representation of their financial situation.
Average debt stood at S$66,519, nearly double the amount in 2000, when it was S$35,907.
How do I compare with the rest of the world?
Singapore was ranked 10th in the world for mean wealth per adult, and 20th for median wealth, according to the Credit Suisse report.
South Korea, Japan, and Australia were some of the countries ranked above Singapore in median wealth terms.
Who are high-net-worth individuals?
Singapore has 268,564 high-net-worth individuals and 1,361 ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
High-net-worth individuals are defined as people worth between US$1 million and US$50 million, while ultra-high-net-worth individuals have a net worth of more than US$50 million.
Knight Frank predicted in The Wealth Report 2022 that Singapore will have nearly 6,000 ultra-high-net-worth people by 2026. This also creates greater demand for priority and, a tier above this, private banking. These are more personalised services offered by banks that are specific to large sums of money — such as estate and tax planning — and give customers access to more favourable fees and foreign exchange rates.
Priority banking typically requires customers to deposit between S$200,000 to S$350,000; private banking services are usually extended through invitations, and customers need to have between S$1 million to S$5 million in the bank first.
How to increase your net worth
To improve your net worth, you can either amass more wealth or reduce your debt.
Grow your assets
Earning a higher salary is the most straightforward way of improving your net worth. This comes with time as your career progresses. Some people also hold more than one job to generate multiple streams of income.
Investing your money is another way to increase your assets. Aim to set aside a portion of your monthly salary into a diversified portfolio. All investments come with risks, but long-term investing generally provides steady returns.
Reduce your liabilities
Save more and spend less — this should be your first step. Also, avoid high-interest loans and credit card debt.
If you take a loan, try to pay it as soon as possible. This reduces the interest payments you incur, and minimises your total liabilities.
Net worth is a concept that is relatively straightforward and something you should take stock of every year. It helps you to be aware of how much you are making and spending, and whether there are financial habits to fix.
If you find calculating your net worth difficult, you can always reach out to a trusted financial advisor or someone at PlannerBee at firstname.lastname@example.org for help.