Market Research

More Than Half Of Wealthy Singaporeans Struggle With Family Feuds - Survey

Tara Loader Wilkinson, Asia Editor, 16 November 2011

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More high net worth individuals in Singapore (those with a net worth of $1 million and above) than any other region say that family wealth has led to conflict, according to a survey from UK wealth manager Barclays Wealth.

Over half of high net worth individuals in Singapore (those with a net
worth of $1 million and above) say that family wealth has
led to conflict, according to a survey from UK wealth manager Barclays
Wealth.

Fifty two per cent in Singapore have experienced
family spats due to money, compared with half of respondents across
Asia-Pacific, contrasting with the the global average of 40 per cent, said the
study, entitled The Transfer of Trust: Wealth and Succession in a Changing
World.

Such conflict may explain why Singaporean HNW individuals feel
they need to forge a different path from their parents, and create a niche for
themselves. Sixty per cent of local respondents do not feel it is important to
follow in the career and business footsteps of their parents.

More than half of local respondents (53 per cent) believe that a
significant level of professional advice is needed when deciding on an
inheritance plan for their children and stepchildren. This could be explained
by the fact that the same proportion have experienced family conflict relating
to family wealth, and 36 per cent say that inheritance has placed an
unnecessary burden on the next generation.

“It is clear that with wealth comes an increasing complexity of
choice, and in some cases this can result in concerns about conflict when
considering the intergenerational transfer of wealth. With the issue of family
conflict around family wealth seemingly high in Asia-Pacific, understanding
options for succession planning in advance can help address these fears,” said Thelma Kwan, head of wealth advisory, Asia-Pacific at Barclays Wealth.

Succession Not A Priority

The report, which interviewed more than 2,000 HNW individuals, including
500 respondents from Asia Pacific, (100 of whom are from Singapore), pointed out that Singaporean wealthy are not
actively involved in succession planning.

Drafting a will is not necessarily a common practice amongst the
wealthy in Asia-Pacific with less than half (47 per cent) of respondents saying
they do not currently have a will or testament. Within Asia, Singaporean HNWIs
are the second most likely to have drafted a will (68 per cent), behind India
(78 per cent).

However, more than half of Singaporean HNW individuals (55 per
cent) have never reviewed their will since it was first written.

This finding reveals a paradox in Singaporean HNWIs’ approach
towards succession planning – while they may indicate succession and
inheritance planning as a key financial priority; they are not as active in
managing this, said the report.

Tomorrow’s World

Among the HNW individuals surveyed, Singaporean respondents have
the highest aspirations for their children in Asia-Pacific, with 91 per cent
wanting their children to surpass them in their financial success and 98 per
cent saying they want to be able to provide for their children’s future
education.

With the shifting balance of global economic power towards the
East, there has also been a gradual shift towards learning Mandarin as a
language. Globally, HNW individuals consider English (68 per cent) and Chinese
(69 per cent) – specifically Mandarin – as the two most important languages for
the next generation to learn. Unsurprisingly, this is mirrored in Singapore,
with 97 per cent of local respondents saying that it is important that the next
generation learns English and 95 per cent indicating the importance of learning
Mandarin.

“The report has found that wealth
is not the only thing that parents can pass on to their children. Sharing
insight into what the future holds, imparting advice on what it takes to be
successful, and the skills needed to equip younger generations to achieve their
goals in life are also important to parents. Respondents are aware of the
growing influence of China and the globalisation of industry and are keen for
the next generation to capitalise on this to give them the best chance in
life,” added Kwan.

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