Adopting a disciplined approach to invest a fixed sum of our salary each month can help us take the first steps in our investing journey. Over the long-term, this can also grow our wealth and provide a supplementary retirement nest egg. Investing this way has several main benefits:
No Need To Time The Market
If we are trying to time the market, we will only invest when we think the markets are at a low or when they are going up. This is virtually impossible for even the best fund managers and investors, let alone average investors like us.
By investing a fixed sum each month, we end up buying high-quality investments regardless of its price at any point in time.
Don’t Require Extensive Knowledge Or Expertise
New or retail investors may not have the financial training nor the time or expertise to monitor our portfolio on a regular basis. By doing the initial research on the appropriate investment platform to use, we can tap on its knowledge and expertise to grow our wealth.
Start Investing From As Little As $100
The majority of the platforms that offer recurring monthly investments allow their investors to start from an affordable amount – as little as $100 (or even lower). They also typically give investors the flexibility to increase, decrease, stop or cash out the investments without any penalties.
In addition, the majority of the platforms also offer a subsidised brokerage or commission charge for their monthly investment plans.
Not Locked Into Any Investments, But You Build A Portfolio With A Disciplined Investing Method
Most investment platforms do not require us to be locked in over several years or even decades to invest with them. This is a big advantage that allows us to reduce our investment amount each month, completely stop investing or even sell away our entire investments without any penalties.
At the same time, this flexibility doesn’t mean we would lack the conviction to invest regularly. By setting up the amount we want to invest each month, our funds will continue to be automatically deducted unless we make an active decision to stop.
Leveraging On A Dollar-Cost Averaging Strategy
When we invest a fixed sum of money each month, we buy up more of an asset when prices go down and less when prices go up. This way, we will invest at close to the average price of the asset. Compared to the example below, if we had simply invested a $6,000 lump sum in January, we’d have invested the same $6,000 but have only 6,000 shares/ETF units.
Over time, there has been an increasing number of platforms in Singapore that allow us to invest regularly, we highlight some of the most common platforms and their characteristics.
Regular Share Savings (RSS) Plans
There are several brokerages that provide Regular Share Savings (RSS) plans in Singapore.
#1 POSB Invest Saver/ DBS Invest Saver
Minimum Investment Amount: $100/month
Investments Available: 4 ETFs
Fees: 0.5% for bond ETFs, and 0.82% for equity ETFs
The POSB Invest Saver or DBS Invest Saver offers investors four broad ETF investments listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX). We can start investing as little as $100 each month to gain exposure to the broadest investments in Singapore via these investments.
The Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF replicates Singapore’s Straits Times Index (STI), giving us exposure to the 30 largest and most liquid companies listed on SGX. The ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund comprises the highest quality bonds in Singapore, issued by the Singapore government and quasi-Singapore government entities. The NikkoAM-StraitsTrading Asia ex Japan REIT ETF is one of three REIT ETFs in Singapore. The Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF is the first corporate bond ETF to be listed on SGX.
#2 OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan (BCIP)
Minimum Investment Amount: $100/month
Investments Available: 7 ETFs, 14 blue chip share counters
The OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan allows investors to invest in 7 ETFs and 14 blue-chip individual counters listed on SGX. The ETFs include Lion-OCBC Securities China Leaders ETF, NikkoAM-ICBCSG China Bond ETF, Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF, Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF, Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF, Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng Tech ETF and Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF. Some of the blue-chip counters include CapitaLand Investment Limited, UOB, DBS, OCBC, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust, SingTel, SIA, Keppel Corp, SGX and others.
Similar to other RSS plans, we only can start investing from as little as $100.
#3 FSMOne Exchanged Traded Fund (ETF) Regular Savings Plans (RSP)
Minimum investment amount: $50/month (ETFs), $100/month (unit trusts)
Investments available: 10 ETFs listed in Singapore, 78 ETFs listed in Hong Kong and US, and 1,638 unit trusts from 53 fund managers
Fees: 0.08% or $1, whichever is higher (for counters listed in Hong Kong and US, minimum of HK$5 or US$1 applies); from 0% for unit trusts
FSMOne’s Regular Savings Plan offers an extensive list of ETFs listed in Singapore and overseas. We can also invest in 1,638 unit trusts from 53 fund managers that give us exposure to multiple asset classes and geographies.
#4 Phillip Share Builders Plan
Minimum Investment Amount: $100/month
Investments Available: 7 ETFs, 29 blue-chip share counters, 13 high-quality REITs
Fees: For investment amounts under $1,000, $6.48 (for 2 or less counters), $10.80 (for 3 or more counters) monthly; for investment amounts more than $1,000, 0.2% or $10.80 monthly; additional dividend handling fees of 1% (capped at $50), other corporate actions charged at $10.80 .
The Phillip Share Builders Plan offers investments for more than 50 counters listed on SGX. Similar to other regular share savings plan, Phillip Share Builders Plan is a regular fixed-dollar amount investment plan that helps investors build up a portfolio of shares incrementally and consistently over time. A unique feature of the Share Builders Plan is the automatic reinvestment of excess funds. Every month after deducting the investment amount and handling fee, excess funds can be withdrawn or left to be added to the next month’s investment amount for purchasing your preferred counter. Aside from un-invested balances brought forward from previous months, excess funds may also come from corporate actions such as dividends, cash offers, bonuses or rights issues. This automatic reinvesting of excess will help investors build up their portfolios more quickly.
#5 Phillip Recurring Plan
Minimum Investment Amount: $100/month
Investments Available: All SGX counters, All counters in US and Hong Kong markets
Fees: Prevailing brokerage rates (SGX – from 0.08%, no min; US – US$3.88 flat; HK – 0.08%, min HKD30)
The Phillip Recurring Plan gives you more control over your investments with access to the entire pool of stocks and ETFs in Singapore, US and Hong Kong markets. You can also choose a standing order for your investment frequency to be daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. You can also choose to fund your account via fund transfer, debit from ledger/ money market fund.
However, unlike its Share Builders Plan, the Recurring Plan charges its prevailing brokerage fees, which can be more expensive.
#6 Saxo Regular Savings Plan
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $2,000, Minimum subsequent investment: $100/month
Investments available: 4 curated portfolios: BlackRock Defensive, BlackRock Moderate, BlackRock Aggressive and Lion Global Dynamic Growth Portfolios
Fees: 0.25% to 0.75% per annum of total investment size
Working with BlackRock, one of the largest asset managers in the world, the SAXO Regular Savings Plan offers managed portfolios that are Defensive, Moderate and Aggressive. These curated portfolios are built with low-cost market-leading iShares ETFs. They also offer a LionGlobal Dynamic Growth portfolio investing in Asia and Emerging Markets.
Newer to the market, many robo-advisory firms offer investors a hands-off approach to long term investing via their digital platforms. They make use of algorithms to help investors invest their money, based on their risk tolerance levels, within the methodology of their platforms.
Minimum investment amount: No minimum for Goal-Based portfolio and Cash Management Portfolio; $10,000 for Income Portfolio
Investments available: Curated portfolios for risk profiles, Income Portfolio, Cash Management Portfolio
Fees: 0.2% to 0.8% per annum of total investment size
StashAway primarily invests in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) listed around the world to give investors greater diversification into equities, bonds, commodities and even convertible securities. It also does not have a minimum amount for investors to start using its platform for its main goal-based portfolio. There are also Thematic Portfolios and Flexible Portfolios for investors who want more targeted investment allocations.
StashAway uses a proprietary investment strategy based on the theory of economic cycles, Economic Regime-based Asset Allocation, or ERAA, enabling it to monitor economic trends and valuations to rebalance its customer’s asset allocation mix for the long-term.
If you’re keen to try out StashAway, it is currently offering 50% off its management fees for 6 months, for up to $50,000 in portfolio value. You can sign up here.
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $3,000, Minimum subsequent investment: $100/month
Investments available: Curated Portfolios
Fees: 0.5% per annum of total investment size + US$18 platform fee
AutoWealth offers investors global exposure mainly through ETFs listed in the US. AutoWealth portfolios track the MSCI World Index and the Citigroup World Government Bond Index – which are transparent and global indexes respectively.
While AutoWealth has a minimum initial investment of $3,000, you can opt to go on a monthly investment plan as well.
If you’re interested to give AutoWealth a try, be sure to use the promo code ‘DollarsAndSense‘ to receive a $20 top-up into your account once you fund it with the $3,000 minimum.
Minimum investment amount: N.A.
Investments available: Core Equity100, Core Growth, Core Balanced, Core Defensive, REIT+ Portfolio, Syfe Cash+
Fees: 0.4% to 0.65%
Launched in July 2019, Syfe has an investment approach that is focused on managing risk, with the aim of attaining better risk-adjusted returns across all market conditions. You can fund your investment account in either SGD or USD, in either a lump sum or regular monthly payments. There are no minimum investment amounts and no minimum lock-in periods.
In 2020, Syfe launched the Syfe REIT+ portfolio, giving investors Singapore’s first risk-managed REIT portfolio. Syfe also has its own cash management product called Syfe Cash+.
If you are interested to get started on investing with Syfe, DollarsAndSense has an exclusive partnership with Syfe – enjoy 0% management fee for the first $30,000 during the first 6 months after you sign up. Apply here to enjoy the promotion.
#10 UTRADE Robo
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $5,000 per portfolio, Minimum subsequent investment: $500
Investments available: Conservative, Moderate, Aggressive Portfolios
Fees: 0.5% to 0.88%
UTRADE Robo classifies investors as conservative, moderate and aggressive based on our risk profile. It will then invest in a universe of ETFs listed globally, primarily tracking benchmark indices and access to 11,000 stocks and bonds across global markets, based on factors including fund size, liquidity, transaction costs, tax efficiency and expense ratios.
#11 UOBAM Invest
Minimum investment amount: $1
Investments available: Very conservative, Conservative, Moderate, Aggressive, and Very aggressive Portfolios
Fees: 0.6% to 0.8%
UOBAM Invest allows us to invest from as little as $1. It allows us to invest in fractional shares up to four decimal places in order to for us to invest such a low amount. UOBAM Invest also employs a glide-path model that gradually allocates our funds towards safer investments as we approach our target goal completion date.
#12 OCBC RoboInvest
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: Varies for individual portfolios. Starts from as low as US$100, but can go to several thousand dollars for some portfolios.
Investments available: 37 thematic portfolios, within three main risk levels – Very low to low risk, medium risk and high to very high risk
OCBC RoboInvest allows us to invest in 34 thematic portfolios across six different markets and three categories of risk level. We also enjoy automated portfolio monitoring and proposed rebalancing notifications as the market changes.
#13 DBS digiPortfolio
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $1,000, ($100 for SaveUp). Minimum subsequent investment: none
Investments available: SaveUp Portfolio, Income Portfolio, Asia Portfolio, Global Portfolio
Fees: 0.25% to 0.75% per annum
DBS digiPortfolio offers 4 unique portfolios. The Asia Portfolio has a Singapore focus investing across Asia though Singapore-listed ETFs. The Global Portfolio invests in Singapore-listed ETFs and UK-listed ETFs respectively. The SaveUp portfolio invests primarily in fixed-income instruments and incurs a lower management fee of 0.25%. The Income portfolio invests in equity and bond unit trusts that generate regular income.
Mutual Funds/Unit Trusts
There are also platforms that allow us to invest in mutual funds and unit trusts on a monthly basis. Typically, these are managed by an active fund manager seeking to beat the market. However, there are also certain mutual funds or unit trusts that are passive investments tracking indexes.
#14 DBS Invest-Saver (Unit Trusts)
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $1000 for some funds
Investments available: close to 130 funds
Fees: varies depending fund
DBS Invest-Saver (Unit Trusts) allows us to invest in unit trust funds with underlying assets in equity, bonds and alternative investments, as well as exchange-traded funds (ETFs), on a monthly basis. We can start investing from as little as $100 a month.
On its platform, we can choose to invest using cash, our CPF funds or our Supplementary Retirement Savings (SRS) account. We can also search for funds to invest in if we know the fund name, or if we want to invest with a certain fund house or on an investment theme.
#15 Phillip Unit Trust Regular Savings Plan
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $100. However, a higher minimum investment amount may be applicable for certain unit trusts.
Investments available: More than 400 unit trusts
Apart from its Share Builders Plan, Phillip also offers a Unit Trust Savings Plan. Investors can choose to invest in more than 400 funds from as little as $100 a month. They can also make use of their CPF or SRS funds to make these investments.
#16 FSM MAPS
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $100/month
Investments available: 10 curated portfolios based on risk profile and Income VS Growth portfolio
Fees: 0.35% (for conservative portfolios), 0.5% (for all other portfolios)
On FSM Maps, we can also start investing via a regular savings plan for as little as $500 a month. Investors can choose from five different risk levels, ranging from conservative to aggressive, as well as whether they prefer a growth or income portfolio, based on their investment objectives and risk tolerance.
FSM MAPS is able to give investors exposure to a diverse range of unit trusts and ETFs globally.
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $100/month. May vary depending on the portfolio.
Investments available: Close to 1,000 funds
dollarDEX offers two types of monthly investments – a regular savings plan (RSP) and a value averaging plan (VAP). dollarDEX allows investors to invest on their own or via five recommended portfolios, again ranging from conservative to aggressive.
On its regular savings plan, investors can invest similar to the other types of investments by contributing a regular investment of at least $100 each month. On its value averaging plan, the amount invested is not fixed. Rather, it is tied to a target growth rate and fluctuates based on how well or poorly the fund performed in the previous month. This way, investors will hit their portfolio size at the end of their target investment period.
Minimum investment amount: Minimum initial investment: $1,000, Minimum subsequent investment: $100
Investments available: General Investing (Invest Cash, Invest CPF, Invest SRS, Invest ESG), Cash Smart and Fund Smart
Fees: 0.25% to 0.6% for cash, 0.4% for SRS and CPF portfolios
Endowus is an independent fee-only platform that aims to help Singaporeans grow wealth by investing systematically, in share classes that were only previously available to institutional investors, managed by top global investment firms such as Dimensional and PIMCO.
They create customised portfolios for investors by making the asset allocation and portfolio construction decisions using data-driven and institutional asset allocation framework. They apply quantitative and qualitative screening to find funds that have outperformed over the long-term.
Its Fund Smart portfolio allows you to customise your investments into funds that you want to invest in, including the allocation you want to put into each fund. It also offers a Cash Smart account for cash management.
If you’re interested to start investing with Endowus, you’ll be happy to know that DollarsAndSense readers can have their first $10,000 managed for free for 6 months, which translates to savings of $20 in fees. Sign-up using this link to claim this special offer. Terms & Conditions apply.
Minimum investment amount: Minimum lump sum investment: $100, Minimum monthly investment: $50/month
Investments available: Dimensional Portfolio, WiseIncome, WiseSaver
Fees: 0.5% to 0.6% advisory fee
MoneyOwl, a social enterprise between NTUC Enterprise and Providend, dubs itself Singapore’s first bionic financial adviser.
MoneyOwl offers five model Dimensional Portfolios – Equity, Growth, Balanced, Moderate, and Conservative – made up of funds managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors. These five portfolios are based on your risk appetite and are made up of differing weightage in three Dimensional equity and bond funds. It also offers investors the ability to invest for income via its WiseIncome portfolio and to save cash with its Wise Saver portfolio.
#20 Financial Advisers
Aside from the above platforms, you can also invest a fixed monthly sum through products offered by your financial adviser(s). Also known as investment-linked policies (ILPs), your money can get invested with a range of funds offered by the insurer. You’ll need to take time to understand how the ILP you’re considering works, especially the loss you would make if you surrender your policy early.
This article may contain links to our affiliate partners. DollarsAndSense may receive a share of revenue from sign-ups. This article was originally published on 19 February 2019 and updated to reflect the latest information.
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