This article was written in collaboration with DBS. All views expressed are the independent opinions of DollarsAndSense.sg
My partner and I are your typical millennials in the way we approach our personal finances. We have a healthy suspicion of people wishing to hard-sell to us and are not comfortable disclosing personal information to strangers. Instead, we prefer taking our time to read about and evaluate our insurance and investment options online.
We keep close tabs on our savings, expenses, debts and investments. Recently joining the workforce, we took over servicing our own health, life and savings policies from our parents. We also invest in a regular shares savings plan and use DBS Multiplier accounts to maximise interest returns on our savings.
We both lead a frugal lifestyle, saving more than 50% of our take-home salary every month. Our aim is to continue investing prudently while maintaining our high savings rate to prepare for big-ticket expenses in the near future, such as our wedding and BTO flat renovation.
Why I Decided To Book An Appointment With DBS NAV
While I believe my personal finance plans are comprehensive enough, I thought it would be beneficial to speak to a qualified financial professional to review what I’ve already done and gain insights into potential insurance or investment gaps I may have overlooked.
Hence, I decided to book an appointment with DBS NAV.
To help young Singaporeans like me, DBS and POSB created NAV, an initiative aimed at empowering us to make more informed financial decisions and find our own financial way in life.
One aspect of NAV’s suite of tools and services is a free one-on-one consultation for both customers and non-customers, with a Wealth Planning Manager (WPM) to discuss financial matters in a non-sales environment. To provide greater value and limit conflicts-of-interest situations, these WPMs are salaried employees and do not receive any form of commission from the products that they recommend. This reassured me that I would not be forced sit through a sales pitch and that my interests would be put first.
Setting Up The Meeting
Setting up the meeting was as easy as a click of a button on the NAV website, after one of the WPMs followed up to arrange to meet for coffee (and of course, discuss our financial health). We agreed on a convenient place and time after office hours so both my partner and I could attend.
Here’s How It Went
My session with the WPM was held in one of DBS’ meeting rooms. For meetings after office hours, it is also possible to meet at cafes. We were greeted by Michelle, our WPM representative, who was very warm, if slightly on the young side. She introduced herself, and gave us a better understanding of what she, and a team of 15 other WPM representatives, were doing to help young Singaporeans with their financial planning review and questions.
She started the session by asking us to share a little about ourselves to provide an overview of our current financial status, goals and aspirations. Next, we were asked to input detailed information about our current financial situation into the NAV Your Financial Profile (YFP) system, such as our:
- Financial knowledge (employment details and investment experience)
- Net worth (assets, including savings, investments, insurance, CPF balances, and our liabilities, including outstanding debt and loans)
- Monthly cashflow (money coming in from our salary, interest payments, dividends or rentals, and going out to pay for housing, utility bills, insurance, transportation and other components)
- Dependents’ details (if any)
- Existing insurance coverage
- Risk Profiling Questionnaire (RPQ) (detailing our attitude towards risk and ability to cope with losses)
As we entered our information into the system, Michelle explained that the information will allow the system to select products that will be relevant to our financial needs. This ensures that we only discuss products that the system has shortlisted as suitable for us.
At the end of keying in all the relevant information into the system, it showed us where we were lacking – in terms of our insurance and investment needs.
Michelle then gave us an overview and explanation of the results based on the information keyed into the app. While her insights were not completely new to us, I can imagine this being very informative for young working adults who have never gone through the process of auditing and cataloguing the entirety of their personal finances. This is useful in helping you visualise monthly cash inflow and outflow, keeping track of your financial goals, and identifying gaps in your insurance and investment needs.
For reference, the detailed YFP report was also emailed to me after the session to provide for further reading and reference.
Michelle went through several investments and policies that the system generated based on our responses, highlighting that we can afford to look more closely at our investing and retirement needs at the current moment. She explained how we could do this, before zeroing in on a potential investment product.
Before concluding the session, she arranged for another appointment and even encouraged us to do our research and speak with our family and friends before deciding if the shortlisted products were right for us.
Here are my biggest takeaways from the session with the WPM.
#1 Putting Everything On Paper
Prior to this session, my monthly expenses and how much money I was left with at the end of each month were just rough estimates in my head. I also knew that we were saving and investing each month but I wasn’t tracking our net worth or our assets and liabilities.
The session with the WPM forced us to scrutinise our monthly budget and understand our net worth. This information, showed us exactly where our money was going each month and how we could further cut down our monthly expenses. Our net worth is also an important figure to track our longer-term financial health.
These values were summarised in the report for me to relook at my convenience. While these amounts could change over time, this process highlighted the importance of budgeting and tracking my net worth.
#2 Analysing My Current Efforts
Through the session, I saw that we were being prudent with our monthly expenses and had a healthy positive net cash flow per month. This indicated an opportunity to look into what we want to do with this extra funds we have at the end of each month rather than spending it or funnelling it into our already adequate savings.
#3 Keeping Track Of My Financial Planning
As I keyed in values for various components into the app, I realised that there were a couple of categories I have not paid attention to. This was mostly to do with discretionary spending on dining out, personal care, subscription packages and gifts.
I was not sure about the value of our current stock portfolio, or even how much was in my CPF Ordinary Account and Special Account. More importantly, I also wasn’t sure exactly how much I am insured for. Taking a snapshot of these values helped me create a more complete picture of my overall finances.
Make An Appointment With A Wealth Planning Manager
A financial planning session with a professional who isn’t trying to sell anything to us creates a safe and comfortable setting for those who are unsure of their insurance and investment plans, and would like to have someone to speak to and ask questions.
Besides having an overview of your current financial state, the session can also be useful to highlight problems with your monthly budget as well as gaps in your financial planning, such as insufficient insurance coverage or possible avenues to grow your investments.
If you are keen to make an appointment with a WPM, you can do so here. Let us know how your session went!