Investing is like exercising daily, improving your cooking skills or sleeping earlier—we all know we should be doing it, but due to lack of time, discipline or knowledge, it sometimes falls to the wayside.
Not knowing where to start is a big reason Singaporeans put off investing. You promise yourself that someday you’ll get around to googling Investing for Dummies. But for now there are more pressing things to do.
The solution? Regular savings plans offer an easy, no-brainer way to grow your money on a limited budget even if you know nothing about investing. With one of these plans, you can start investing the minute you turn 18.
That way, by the time you actually get around to scouring the world wide web for knowledge, you’ll already have a small and growing nest egg.
- What is a regular savings plan?
- At a glance: 5 best regular savings plans in Singapore
- DBS Regular Savings Plan
- OCBC Regular Savings Plan
- POEMS Regular Savings Plan
- FSMOne Regular Savings Plan
- Saxo Regular Savings Plan
- So, which regular savings plan should you use?
- Case study: investing $100/month with a regular savings plan
- What about other banks’ regular savings plans?
What is a regular savings plan?
Such plans use an investment method called dollar-cost averaging to protect the investor from most of the volatility of stocks. This approach involves investing the same amount of funds according to a fixed and regular schedule, regardless of market performance.
Because of the consistent exposure you get to the market, the idea is that you ride out the ups and downs in the long-term and benefit from the market’s overall upward trajectory.
A regular savings plan can be a good option for beginner investors or those who do not have the time or the patience to monitor the stock market and react accordingly to fluctuations. It is designed for medium- to long-term investments, so don’t expect to make a quick buck.
5 best regular savings plans in Singapore
We’ll compare the 5 best options in Singapore: DBS Invest-Saver, FSMOne Regular Savings Plan, OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan, POEMS Share Builders Plan and Saxo Regular Savings Plan.
Regular savings plan
0.5% (bond ETFs) / 0.82% (equity and REIT ETFs)
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan
0.88% if you’re below age 30. Otherwise, 0.3% or $5 per counter, whichever is higher
21 ETFs & stocks
POEMS Share Builders Plan
0.3% (min. S$1 per month, capped at S$5.88/month or S$8.88/month)
56 ETFs & stocks
FSMOne Regular Savings Plan
0.08% (min. 1 SGD, 5 HKD or 1 USD, whichever is higher)
125 ETFs worldwide
Saxo Regular Savings Plan
0.25% to 0.75% p.a. service fee
4 managed ETF portfolios
Note that there are more regular savings plans on the market, but we’re focusing on the ones with ETFs, or exchange traded funds only.
Let’s take a closer look at each regular savings plan.
1. DBS Regular Savings Plan
The DBS Invest-Saver plan lets you invest in ETFs and unit trusts for a minimum of $100 a month. It’s convenient as all your dividends can be credited directly into your existing DBS/POSB account, so there’s no need to set up a new account. You can sign up for DBS Invest-Saver once you hit the age of 18.
The plan offers four ETFs:
- Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF (tracks Singapore equities)
- ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund (tracks SGD bonds)
- Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF (tracks SGD corporate bonds)
- Nikko AM-StraitsTrading Asia ex Japan REIT ETF (tracks Asian REITs)
One important factor to compare when choosing such plans is the transaction fees or monthly sales charge, which will eat into your earnings. DBS Invest-Saver charges 0.50% per transaction for their bond ETFs and 0.82% per transaction for their equity and REIT ETFs. If you’re investing $100 per month, that means you will pay up to $0.82 a month, or $9.84 a year in transaction fees.
Sounds good to you? DBS is having a limited-time promotion you can take advantage of. Set up your DBS Invest-Saver plan from now to 30 Jun 2023 to get a full rebate of up to $125 on your sale charge.
2. OCBC Regular Savings Plan
Another convenient option if you prefer to stay within your bank’s ecosystem is OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan. You can sign up for an account once you hit the age of 18, or open a joint account with your parent or guardian if you’re under 18.
This regular savings plan allows you to put aside as little as $100 a month and cobble together a portfolio of up to 30 stocks/ETFs. You can then sit back and collect dividends (if any) directly in your OCBC account.
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan lets you invest in companies on the Straits Times Index (STI) such as DBS, OCBC, Singtel and Starhub, as well as the following ETFs:
- Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng Tech ETF
- Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF
- Lion-OCBC Securities China Leaders ETF
- Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF
- Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF
- Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF
If you’ve been keeping up with the Singapore Green Plan 2030, you’d know that sustainability is high up on the government’s agenda. With that in mind, investing in Lion-OCBC Securities Singapore Low Carbon ETF might prove to be a wise investment move.
Customers below the age of 30 with an investment amount of up to $500 get preferential fees, which start at 0.88% per transaction for those investing $100 per month. That works out to $0.88 for each $100 instalment, or $10.56 a year.
Otherwise, you pay a fee of 0.3% or $5 per counter, whichever is higher. Because of the minimum fee, if you’re over 30 it’s more worth it to invest higher amounts per month.
3. POEMS Regular Savings Plan
POEMS has a few savings plans available, but we’ll focus here on the Share Builders Plan, which lets you invest for as little as $100 per month, making your payments automatically through GIRO. It’s open to those above 18 years old, and also allows for joint account application.
POEMS Share Builders Plan lets you invest in more than 50 ETFs and stocks. Stock selections include DBS, OCBC, Genting Singapore, Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Industries.
The range of ETFs is also wider than DBS and OCBC, including the SPDR Straits Times Index ETF, ABF Singapore Bond Index and Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng Tech ETF. If you want real estate exposure, you can opt for REITs like Frasers Centrepoint Trust and MapleTree Pan Asia Commercial Trust.
Unlike the savings plans offered by DBS and OCBC, which let you receive your proceeds in your regular bank account, you will need to open a separate Philip Investment Account.
One nifty feature is that the plan gives you the option to reinvest your dividends, which is great for younger investors who don’t need the income.
In terms of handling fees, the POEMS Share Builders Plan will charge you 0.3% per annum of your Total Portfolio Value (TPV). The minimum monthly charge is S$1, while the maximum is S$8.88/month if your TPV is under S$40,000, and S$5.88/month if your TPV is S$40,000 or more.
4. FSMOne Regular Savings Plan
Fundsupermarket or FSMOne offers a Regular Savings Plan that features 125 ETFs on SGX, HKEX and US markets—making it the widest global ETF selection offered by a plan on this list.
These include even more niche ETFs like the Premia Dow Jones Em ASEAN Titans 100 ETF (tracks emerging Southeast Asian markets) and ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (tracks digital and tech companies). But the selection can be overwhelming for beginners.
If you are investment-savvy but on a tight budget, FSMOne’s ETF regular savings plan would suit you as their minimum monthly investment amounts are as little as $50.
Their buying fee is 0.08%, with a minimum order of 1 SGD, 5 HKD or 1 USD, whichever is higher. Because of the minimum order fee, it’s more worth it if you invest at least a few hundred bucks each time.
5. Saxo Regular Savings Plan
This regular savings plan from Saxo Markets lets you pick from one of 4 professionally-managed ETF portfolios from BlackRock and Lion Global.
- Defensive—a low-risk portfolio focusing mainly on bonds, managed by BlackRock.
- Moderate—medium-risk, balances growth potential vs not losing money. Also managed by BlackRock.
- Aggressive—high-risk, focusing mainly on stocks. Managed by BlackRock.
- Dynamic Growth: Asian Perspective—high-risk, focusing on Asia & emerging markets. Managed by Lion Global.
Similar to many robo advisors, Saxo’s RSP lets you invest in ready-made portfolios rather than make you figure out which ETFs and stocks to pick.
You need a minimum deposit of $2,000 to start investing. After that, contribute regularly to your investments on a weekly/monthly basis, with each minimum contribution being $100.
They charge a 0.25% to 0.75% service fee, which works out to $0.25 to $0.75 per month if you’re investing $100 monthly, or $3 to $9 a year.
So, which regular savings plan should you use?
If you’re looking for convenience, DBS Invest-Saver and OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan are the most convenient as you don’t need to set up a separate account to receive your dividends.
DBS’s will be more cost-effective if you’re below 30, but it’s also more limited in terms of ETF/stocks selection.
FSMOne’s Regular Savings Plan offers the best range of global indices, so if your priority is having a good selection of ETFs, go for this one instead.
Saxo Market’s plan is unique in that it offers professionally-managed portfolios rather than individual equities, ETFs and so on. If that attracts you, you might want to compare it against the robo advisors in Singapore.
Case study: investing $100/month with a regular savings plan
Let’s look at the case study of a regular bloke named Bob, who’s 30 years old and ready to start investing. He earns $3,000 a month and is able to set aside $100 for investments. Here’s how much he would pay to use a regular savings plan:
|Regular savings plan||Transaction fees||Fee for $100 investment|
|Saxo Regular Savings Plan||0.25% to 0.75% p.a. service fee||S$0.25 to S$0.75|
|FSMOne Regular Savings Plan||0.08% (min. 1 SGD, 5 HKD or 1 USD, whichever is higher)||1 USD ≈ S$1.35|
|DBS Invest-Saver (Bond ETFs)||0.5%||$0.50|
|DBS Invest-Saver (Equity and REIT ETFs)||0.82%||$0.82|
|OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan||0.88% if you’re below age 30. Otherwise, 0.3% or S$5 per counter, whichever is higher||S$5|
|POEMS Share Builders Plan||0.3% (min. S$1 per month)||S$1|
The cheapest options for Bob would be the DBS Invest-Saver or Saxo Regular Savings Plan. With the DBS Invest-Saver, he’ll be paying a modest $0.50 to $0.82 per month. It limits him to just 4 local ETFs, which is fine for now, but may feel restrictive in the future as his investment knowledge grows. If Bob decides that he would prefer to invest in a global ETF portfolio instead of limiting his investments to the Singapore market, he might opt for the Saxo Regular Savings Plan and pay a reasonable $0.25 to $0.75 per month.
Other affordable alternatives are the POEMS Share Builders Plan and the FSMOne Regular Savings Plan, costing just S$1.35 a month. However, what we don’t like about these plans is that they charge a minimum fee per month, disadvantaging the small investor only able to put in a modest monthly amount of $100.
As the OCBC offerings are more expensive, Bob will consider them only at a later stage, when he’s earning more money and can put aside more to invest.
However, choosing the right regular savings plan for you isn’t just about comparing transaction fees. Another consideration is the range of ETF choices. More isn’t always better—with 125 worldwide ETFs to choose from for the FSMOne Regular Savings Plan, it could be a tad overwhelming for an investment virgin like Bob.
We also want to highlight other fees you might end up paying that eat into your investment gains. For example, the POEMS Share Builders Plan has dividend charges that are buried in their product information document in a way that seems out to confuse you. The dividend charges basically nullify any small dividends you receive:
- If the dividend amount is less than S$1, you pay the full dividend amount in dividend charges. So you get nothing!
- If the dividend amount is S$1 or more, you pay 1% in dividend charges with a minimum of S$1 and capped at S$50. So you get S$1 in dividends, you pay the minimum of S$1 and still get nothing!
What about other banks’ regular savings plans?
Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and UOB also have Regular Savings Plans, however their offerings only let you invest in unit trusts.
Unit trusts, also known as mutual funds, are somewhat like ETFs. Both consist of a collection of investment assets, allowing you invest in a diversified basket of assets without having to spend a fortune.
The difference is that a unit trust is basically a portfolio that is being actively managed by a professional fund manager who has to constantly make decisions about the fund allocation. Some of your money will go into paying hefty fund managers’ fees.
Meanwhile, ETFs are passively managed baskets of assets. Asset allocation is automatic and based on the composition rules of the ETF. They also have fund managers fees’, but these are much lower.
ETFs are generally more economical for beginners who can hold their investments for a long time. However, some people might prefer unit trusts as fund managers can strategically manage their portfolio in order to produce gains in tough economic times.
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