Net worth data has long been a topic of fascination, and for different reasons. Some of us (especially personal finance bloggers) track net worth for accountability, whereas you may do it for your own reasons. My net worth reports can be found here and I update them on an annual basis.
Before we get to net worth data, I wrote in an earlier post that Median Gross Monthly Income From Work (Including Employer CPF Contributions) for Singaporeans was $4,563 – was it higher or lower than what you expected?
In that post, I briefly explained how official statistics and data don’t always paint a full picture numbers, even when they are able to provide insights into what you’re looking for.
Likewise, in today’s post, I’m going to do the same and include a snippet or two of my thoughts.
My working life is definitely not what you would term as ordinary, and you can easily see this in my monthly income growth chart.
I won’t go into the full details (this post has all the information), but the point of mentioning it is such that you can understand why I try to look at things differently and from different angles, instead of relying on just numbers.
Net worth of Singapore adults
The source of my net worth data is by Credit Suisse and they have been publishing global wealth reports for years.
In their 2019 report, it was stated that average wealth per adult is high at USD 297,873 per adult in mid-2019. Also, it is 6th in the world (2nd in Asia, behind Hong Kong) in terms of household wealth per adult.
If your first thought was that the number seemed rather high, you’re right. Alas, using “average” is never a good way of representing the population. You may have also noticed that “median” is commonly used over “average” for such purposes.
Why use one over the other?
Average Net Worth ($297,873) vs Median Net Worth ($96,967)
To illustrate the difference between the two, I can use a very simple example.
Imagine that we have five people with the following net worth –
- Citizen A – $10,000
- Citizen B – $20,000
- Citizen C – $30,000 (median)
- Citizen D – $40,000
- Citizen E – $200,000
The median simply refers to the middle number in a sorted list. In this case, the median net worth is $30,000.
The average net worth, however, is distorted by the single high net worth individual (Citizen E) and ended up being $60,000. Needless to say, this isn’t an accurate representation of the population with 80% having far lower than the average net worth.
Credit Suisse obviously knew all about statistics and therefore, the median wealth was also captured in the report – a mere one-third of mean or average wealth at USD 96,967.
The report also noted that the data considered to be more reliable due to the availability of household balance sheet data. Now that the number seems a little bit more realistic, I have bad news.
Components of net worth
Included in the report was the composition of wealth per adult. Wealth (or net worth) is basically calculated by adding financial assets and real assets (mainly properties) minus debt.
Singaporeans have significant real assets in the form of properties due to the high percentage of homeownership as a result of the public housing scheme. Also, I’m inclined to believe that CPF money would have been factored into the calculations as well.
This means that the actual amount of liquid assets that can be used could potentially be fairly limited when a crisis or emergency happens.
Nevertheless, our average and median net worth data for adults puts Singapore in a significantly better position than many other countries globally. Coupled with the government’s willingness to dip into the countries reserves when the need arises, the impact of any crisis can likely be decently cushioned.
In case you think that I had missed it – sorry, I wished I did but I couldn’t find any data that had break-downs in terms of age.
How did I fare?
My latest net worth report was posted at the start of the year and it listed my net worth as $290,470 on the last day of December 2019.
Since I had omitted the value of my apartment in my net worth reports, adding a conservative $200,000 to it would probably be a good estimate if we were to compare with the numbers in Credit Suisse report.
If you have other reliable sources of net worth data for Singaporeans, please share them with me!
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Hello! I’m Kevin, Turtle Investor
At the age of 30, I am the personal finance blogger who laid claim to a negative net worth of minus $25,755.
Seven years later in 2019, I hit CPF Full Retirement Sum (FRS) of $176,000 without making a single cent of CPF top-up. More tidbits about myself here if you’re curious. My blueprint for financial independence can help give you a headstart in your own FIRE journey.
I am married to a lovely wife and that means dual income with no kids. In my free time, I chase miles so that we can fly in business class. My hobby is making pocket change off this blog and sharing everything I know with you!
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