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

Prestige (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - Ooi Huey Tyng is Visa coun­try man­ager for Sin­ga­pore and Brunei

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.

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