WOMEN on the RISE
Forget the passé 5Cs, the new affluent woman looks beyond the material when indulging in the good life. OOI Huey Tyng breaks down their priorities and spending habits
The new affluent woman looks beyond the material when indulging in the good life
The average wealth per adult in Singapore has leapfrogged by 40 percent since 2000 to US$269,400 in 2015, according to a report released by Credit Suisse last year. At Visa, we even see the top one percent of Visa Infinite cardholders spending an average of over half a million in a year with some spending six figure amounts in a single transaction at auction houses, casinos and accommodation.
With the affluent segment multiplying, so is the number of affluent women. A decade ago, there were only three female billionaires in Asia but the number now stands at 25. The billionaire club may still be dominated by men but the growth in number of male billionaires is lagging behind women. What is interesting for Asia is that over 50 percent of female billionaires are self-made, unlike Western counterparts who mostly inherited their wealth.
So who are the affluent women in Singapore, one may ask? A Visa Affluent Study states that the average affluent female in Singapore is 35-years-old and has an annual income of more than S$153,000. Staying fit and healthy, making time for themselves and their families, and making more personal income are the top important areas for the affluent in Singapore.
Jacquelyn Tan, managing director, Cards and Payments, Personal Financial Services at UOB affirms that today’s professional woman is one who balances a successful career with meaningful personal relationships, while taking care of themselves. Last year, health and wellness was one of the top spend categories for UOB’S female customers. Unsurprisingly, travel is also a large part of their lifestyle, with travel-related spend among them growing 40 percent from 2014 to 2015.
This trend is also similar for OCBC Voyage female cardmembers, who have a distinct preference for premium services and products when they select accommodation, flights and dining options. They also indulge in plays, shows and family-centric activities such as ski holidays, wine tours and horse riding.
Besides spending on the finer things, affluent women also care about giving back to society. Stefanie Yuen Thio, joint managing director at TSMP Law Corporation, is one such individual who believes in opening the doors of access to the underprivileged. Her firm donates a portion of partnership profits to charitable causes and sets aside two days each year for employees to do volunteer work. At a recent DBS Insignia Visa Infinite event, she shared: “When I look back on my life, I don’t want to stare at a blank canvas, filled with the good I did not do and the help I did not give.”
Banks such as DBS are looking at ways to promote charitable causes as part of their engagement with affluent clients. Says Anthony Seow, head of Cards and Unsecured Loans, Consumer Banking Group, DBS Bank: “The DBS Insignia brand believes in making a difference and recognises individuals who selflessly strive to make a difference to the lives of others. Hence, at the fifth anniversary event, cardholders were invited to help raise funds for four nonprofit organisations in Singapore.”
Technology is also changing the way the affluent transact. Three in four Visa Infinite cardholders are digitally engaged, meaning that they are active on ecommerce, use mobile apps and wallets, and Visa paywave.
UOB echoed the strong growth in online billings, recording a 45 percent rise as compared to 2014. “As we live in an increasingly borderless world, we have observed more Singapore women flocking to online shopping in search of greater choice and better prices,” says Tan of UOB.
“Around the world, women account for over a third of the global workforce and are an undeniable powerful force of economic growth. Beyond just their spending power, women are influential economic assets as employees, employers, entrepreneurs and producers,” says John Denhof, head of Cards and Personal Loans at Citibank Singapore Ltd.
With the acceleration of gender parity in the world and with more women achieving greater success in the workforce, one can expect an upward trend of an increasing pool of affluent and successful women in Singapore.