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While some of us were focusing on the digital bank license results made earlier in December, another major announcement may have gone unnoticed on 7 December 2020. This was when the launch of the Singapore Financial Data Exchange (SGFinDex) was announced.
What Exactly Is The SGFinDex?
SGFinDex is a public digital infrastructure that allows individuals to access their financial information held across CPF, HDB, IRAS and 7 participating banks in Singapore.
With SGFinDex, we can now use our SingPass to retrieve consolidated personal financial information from CPF, HDB, IRAS and the 7 participating banks in Singapore. For example, we can get information such as our deposits, credit card balances, loans and investments from financial institutions we have a banking relationship with. Likewise, we can also retrieve financial information from CPF, HDB and IRAS.
In the initial phase, seven banks will be participating in SGFinDex along with the government agencies. The participating banks are
- Standard Chartered; and
This means that we can retrieve information from these participating banks using our SingPass via SGFinDex.
To be clear, these are personal financial information that 1) belongs to us and 2) we already have direct access to. SGFinDex does not give us any new information that we don’t already have. What it does help us to do is to easily access, via applications, the information held by these entities.
How SGFinDex Can Help Us With Financial Planning
If you ever tried to do financial planning, one of the challenges you will face is having to consolidate all the financial information needed. This involves a tedious process of needing to retrieve data from accounts that are held with different banks and government agencies.
Through SGFinDex, we no longer need to manually extract information from different financial institutions and government agencies. Instead, we can retrieve the financial information needed from these entities using our SingPass.
For the initial SGFinDex phase, here is the information we can retrieve.
For those worried about their privacy, SGFinDex itself does not store any information. It only retrieves and transmits information to the financial planning platforms that we wish to share the information with. This needs to be authorised by us via SingPass. We can also choose to disconnect the access anytime we want.
To Use The Information On SGFinDex, We Still Need A Financial Planning Platform Like DBS NAV Planner
While SGFinDex is great, by itself, it is not an app and you can only access it through a trusted financial planning platform, like the DBS NAV Planner. It’s only when we have the right financial planning platform that the information can be retrieved.
The good news for us is there is a perfectly ideal financial planning platform that we can already use in Singapore – the DBS NAV Planner. For those who don’t know, the DBS NAV Planner is a digital tool that helps us track, protect and grow our money, designed around a comprehensive financial planning framework.
For those of us who are an existing DBS/POSB customer with internet banking access, then we already have DBS NAV Planner, whether or not we realised or have used it before. We can access this via the “Plan” tab in DBS ibanking or the DBS digibank mobile app.
What is good about DBS NAV Planner is that if we already have a banking relationship with DBS, it can utilise the information it already has from DBS to give us a good picture of our financial situation. This includes our spending and saving patterns each month, investments we have made and insurance protection policies we may have bought through DBS.
For example, like most people in Singapore, I use DBS for my day-to-day expenses. The DBS NAV Planner detects how much I spend and save each month, and based on this, can also give me insights such as the emergency savings I currently have.
As you can see, at just 2.3 months, the amount of emergency savings I have isn’t looking too good.
But here’s the problem. Like many other people, I have savings in other bank accounts beyond DBS. So while DBS NAV Planner is useful, it doesn’t always give me a complete picture of my financial situation unless I connect it with information from other banks.
Prior to SGFinDex, if I wish to have a complete view of my finances using the DBS NAV Planner, I could still get it but that would require me to manually key in the additional information needed such as my savings in other non-DBS accounts. I will also need to continually update the information to ensure that DBS NAV Planner can present to me information that is accurate.
However, with the launch of SGFinDex, we can now choose to connect the DBS NAV Planner automatically to any of the other participating banks and government agencies. It’s interesting to note that even if you are not an existing DBS customer, you can still use the DBS NAV Planner by downloading the DBS digibank app.
Based on our experience via mobile, you will need to login via your Singpass twice. The first login is to access SGFinDex, which you can do so using your Singpass. If this is the first time you are using SGFinDex, you will need to add the various banks that want to SGFinDex. The second login is to provide permission for the DBS NAV Planner to access the information on SGFinDex.
You can refer to the steps below as explained by DBS.
Once we have done so, our DBS NAV Planner will utilise the additional information from other financial institutions to give us a more accurate assessment of our financial status.
For example, I now have a much healthier level of emergency savings at 9.2 months once my savings from other bank accounts are taken into consideration.
Besides information from other financial institutions, DBS NAV Planner can also include information from government agencies such as CPF, HDB and IRAS.
DBS NAV Planner Can Provide Us With Insights Beyond Just Financial Data
Merely having information isn’t good enough if it doesn’t inspire us to take action to attain positive outcomes. One advantage that DBS NAV Planner has is that after it has a holistic overview of our financial situation, it can provide us with valuable insights that can lead to concrete actions to improve our current financial situation. For example, based on your current assets and liabilities and projected future expenditure and income, the DBS NAV Planner can help you project your future cashflow for your goals or retirement and help you plan 20, 30, or even 40 years ahead.
Keep Track of Investments
Similarly, the DBS NAV Planner also has an investment feature on its platform that can tell us the value of our portfolio. One of the features includes a real-time investment tracker. For example, once you tell DBS NAV Planner you own 1000 stocks of Apple (AAPL), the value of investments will reflect real-time market conditions.
Similarly, if we invested in other asset classes such as unit trusts (whether it’s with DBS or other banks), the market value of these investments would be reflected automatically in our DBS NAV Planner, thanks to SGFinDex. There would no longer be a need for us to manually adjust our investment portfolio value each time we want an update.
While SGFinDex does not allow us to link our CDP account (yet), we can still add equities and ETFs that we own to the DBS NAV Planner. Once added, the value of these equities and ETFs will automatically be updated by DBS NAV Planner.
For example, as someone who owns some Singtel shares, I can add the assets to my DBS NAV Planner.
The indicative price SGD 2.33 that you see above is automatically provided by the DBS NAV Planner based on the current Singtel share price.
Once added, it will be going into your investment portfolio along with other investments that you may have. DBS NAV Planner can show you the market value of your investments.
I also have some Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF shares that were bought through DBS so this is automatically included in my investment portfolio for the DBS NAV Planner.
Insurance Coverage Gap
The DBS NAV Planner has a protection feature that helps us understand if we have any insurance coverage gap. These include critical illness mortgage insurance, health insurance and life insurance. Once we provide DBS NAV Planner with information on our existing insurance policies, it can suggest to us what are the protection gaps we may have.
One challenge that we still need to accommodate (for now) is that we have to manually update insurance policies and certain investment that we may have made beyond DBS. This is because currently, SGFinDex doesn’t allow us to connect insurance and some investment information (like our CDP holdings) in its initial launch phase. However, this could change in the future.
With DBS NAV Planner being able to encompass money management, protection, investments and retirement planning, it’s, in our opinion, the most comprehensive financial planning tool available to all for free in Singapore.
Despite that, DBS NAV Planner is still relatively beginner friendly. Even if you don’t want to deep dive and geek out about your financial health, it’s still relatively accessible to people just beginning their financial journey.
Indeed, DBS NAV Planner is not just about helping us consolidate information – an excel sheet can do that if need be. Instead, the additional value with DBS NAV Planner is that it can provide us with useful insights that we need to help us make better financial decisions.
According to DBS, the DBS NAV Planner has already helped more than 1.8 million users to do budgeting and monitor their investment performance, and obtain personalised financial insights and recommendations. 400,000 of them have even turned their finances around through using DBS NAV Planner. And with SGFinDex, the question isn’t so much about whether the DBS NAV Planner can help more people in Singapore, but rather, whether you will be keen to take the first step to start your financial planning journey now that you have the tools in your hand to get started easily.