Participating Funds Singapore Moving Forward

Participating Funds Singapore Moving Forward

Insurance companies will be showing lowered illustrated rates after 1st July 2021. Although there is no real impact because the rates are illustrated after all, you might be wondering why is this happening? I think the most important question that you have will be this.

“Will this affect my returns in the years to come?”

Participating Funds Insurance Singapore 2020

Participating Funds Insurance Singapore 2020. Source: Business Times.

 

What is a Participating Fund?

To understand your returns better, you first need to understand what is a participating fund. You can take a look at LIA: Guide to Participating Fund. I will be summarizing some of the points in the guide.

Participating policies (such as endowment, life, retirement) are life insurance policies which provide both guaranteed and non-guaranteed benefits. The aim of a participating policy is to provide stable medium to long-term returns through the combination of guaranteed benefits and non-guaranteed bonuses. Participating funds can invest in a range of assets, including equities, in search of potentially higher returns.

This means that the participating fund need not be conservative. Equity positions in the 5 companies (as shown above) is around 30% of the entire fund. However, we need to note that insurer need to provide a guaranteed benefits.

 

The Search For Guaranteed Benefits

To back the guaranteed returns of participating policies, insurers typically invest around 70% with bonds (Side note: investing in bonds does not mean that having guaranteed returns). In the persistent low interest environment (plus the RBC2), it becomes an problem for insurers. I believe (this is my guess) that insurance companies might offer newer plans with lower guaranteed benefits in future.

Participating Funds Singapore Moving Forward

Participating Funds Singapore Moving Forward

 

Will It Affect My Overall Returns

That being said, I believe the overall returns for participating funds will improve. This is because insurers has already shown trends to shift more of the assets into equity (read my last article on the data).

However, this would mean that we need to be understand returns on a participating policy may also be volatile in future.

 

Final Thoughts

I do not think that having a lower guaranteed benefit is necessarily bad. This is because when the participating policy has a lower guaranteed benefit, it means it only needs a lower proportion of assets goes into bonds. This will free up some capital to invest in other assets such as equity. This investment mix might provide greater potential/returns for long term investment.

As mentioned above, we need to be understand returns on a participating policy may also be volatile in future. You should be instead focus on your financial needs and whether these plans (participating or not) can serve you in your financial planning.

 

Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

Feel Free To Reach Out To Share Your Thoughts.

Contact: 94316449 (Whatsapp) chengkokoh@gmail.com (Email)
Telegram: Wealthdojo [Continuous Learning Channel]
Reviews: About Me

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.

Technical Mambo Jambo: RBC2

This section is only for those that are interested in the technical stuff.

Insurer are required to adopt RBC2 from March 2020. Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) expects the guaranteed cash flows from assets invested by the Par Fund to match the guaranteed insurance liabilities, i.e. the guaranteed benefits of the par policies. Insurers are required to hold higher capital requirements if that is not the case.

As we are in a persistent low interest environment, it would mean that the insurer have to hold even more bond positions to match the guaranteed benefits. Thus, reducing their ability to invest in the equity market. Thus, potentially reducing overall returns.

As a result, we might see new participating policies with lower guaranteed benefits. As explained above, it may be a good thing and a blessing in disguise.

Here is a 1 hour video to explain the mambo jumbo.

Should You Be Concerned About Dropping Illustrated Rates

Should You Be Concerned About Dropping Illustrated Rates

Should You Be Concerned About Dropping Illustrated Rates

The Life Insurance Association (LIA) on 2nd June 2021 has adjusted the illustrated rates of participating policies (per annum) downwards from higher range 4.75% to 4.25% and lower range 3.25% to 3%. This is to provide consumers a more realistic range of projected investment returns. Should you be concerned about the dropping illustrated rates?

Wait.. But first..

Please do not run to your financial advisors to buy your participating plans now. The changes are made on the ILLUSTRATED/PROJECTED returns and NOT the actual returns of your potential policy. Even if you buy a participating plan before 1st July, it does not mean that you “locked in the old rates”.

The insurance company will only give the actual returns in the years ahead. The illustrated/projected returns serves as a GUIDE on what a realistic return may look like in the future.

So Why Are The Illustrated Rates Dropping?

This is to provide a more realistic range of your policy returns. The insurer participating funds are a combination of bonds, equity and also other assets. I have put a screenshot of Prudential’s, Great Eastern’s and AIA’s Par Funds composition here. You would see that the biggest composition is fixed income and bonds.

AIA (2019) – 69.2%

GE (2019) – 66%

Prudential (2020) – 64.4%

AIA Par Fund 2019 Asset Allocation

AIA Par Fund 2019 Asset Allocation

GE Par Fund 2019 Asset Allocation

GE Par Fund 2019 Asset Allocation

Prudential Par Fund 2020 Asset Allocation

Prudential Par Fund 2020 Asset Allocation

Against the backdrop of the persistent low interest environment, we will expect that bond and fixed income asset classes to be affected negatively which is why the LIA has revise the illustrated rates downwards.

Bond Rates Dropping

Bond Rates Dropping

So What Are Insurers Doing?

It is my guess that the insurers have started to have a higher equity exposure in this persistent low interest environment. My suspicion has been confirmed after digging into the various companies Par Funds Asset Allocation.

Singapore Insurance Companies Par Funds Allocation Trends

Singapore Insurance Companies Par Funds Allocation Trends

For those that are interested, these are the source of information. (NTUC 2018, NTUC 2019, NTUC 2020)|(AIA 2017, AIA 2018, AIA 2019)|(GE 2017, GE2018, GE2019)|(PRU 2017, PRU 2018, PRU 2019, PRU 2020)|. You can see that for some companies, they started to have a higher equity position in their participating fund.

As reported on Today, AIA Singapore will “refresh and streamline” its product suite. Great Eastern is unable to share more details, but likely to have an impact on premiums for new policies. Prudential Singapore declined to comment.

Final Thoughts By Wealthdojo

This is not new. The last change in the illustrated rate was in 2013 due to low interest environment. These changes should not influence you to get a participating policy or not because the changes are only in the illustration.

You should be instead focus on your financial needs and whether these plans (participating or not) can serve you in your financial planning.

Chengkok is a licensed Financial Services Consultant since 2012. He is an Investment and Critical Illness Specialist. Wealthdojo was created in 2019 to educate and debunk “free financial advice” that was given without context.  

Feel Free To Reach Out To Share Your Thoughts.

Contact: 94316449 (Whatsapp) chengkokoh@gmail.com (Email)
Telegram: Wealthdojo [Continuous Learning Channel]
Reviews: About Me

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author.