5 Best Regular Savings Plans in Singapore 2021: Invest With $100 a Month

5 Best Regular Savings Plans in Singapore 2021: Invest With $100 a Month

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 borrow Investing for Dummies at the National Library. 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 reading that Investing for Dummies book, you’ll already have a small and growing nest egg.

What is a regular savings plan?

Regular savings plans require you to pay in a fixed sum of money on a regular basis, usually every month. The plan will invest your cash in blue chip stocks, REITs and/or ETFs.

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 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 PlanOCBC Blue Chip Investment PlanPOEMS Share Builders Plan and Saxo Regular Savings Plan.

Regular savings plan

Transaction fee

Counters

DBS Invest-Saver

0.5% to 0.82%

4 ETFs

OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan

0.88% if you’re below age 30. Otherwise, 0.3% (min. $5)

15 ETFs & stocks

POEMS Share Builders Plan

$6 (up to 2 counters) or

$10 (3 or more)

49 ETFs & stocks

FSMOne Regular Savings Plan

0.08% (min. $1/US$1HKD5)

64 ETFs worldwide

Saxo Regular Savings Plan

None, but 0.25% to 0.75% p.a. service fee applies

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 Invest-Saver

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.

2. OCBC Blue Chip Investment 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 4 ETFs:

  • Lion-OCBC Securities Hang Seng Tech ETF
  • Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF
  • Nikko AM SGD Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF
  • Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF

The Hang Seng Tech ETF is one to look out for, as it features some of the biggest tech companies in China, including Alibaba Group, Tencent and Xiaomi.

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 Share Builders 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.

POEMS Share Builders Plan lets you invest in 49 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 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.

On the downside, the plan charges $6 for one or two counters, and $10 when you transact with more than 3 counters. That makes it by far the most expensive plan on this list, and it makes sense only if you have a larger amount to invest each month.

PhillipCapital (POEMS) logo
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$3.88
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
0.08%
Min. Funding
$1,000

4. FSMOne Regular Savings Plan

Fundsupermarket or FSMOne offers a Regular Savings Plan that features 64 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 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 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
  • Moderate — medium-risk, balances growth potential vs not losing money
  • Aggressive — high-risk, focusing mainly on stocks
  • Dynamic Growth: Asian Perspective — high-risk, focusing on Asia & emerging markets

Similar to many robo advisors, Saxo’s RSP lets you invest in ready-made portfolios rather than have to 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.

Saxo logo
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$4
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
S$5
Min. Funding
S$2,000

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 over 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 $500/month with a regular savings plan

Let’s look at the case study of the fictitious Mr Muhammad Ali, who’s 30 years old. He earns $3,000 a month and is able to set aside $500 for investments. Here’s how much he would pay for using a regular savings plan:

Regular savings plan

Fee for $500 investment

Saxo Regular Savings Plan

$1.25 to $3.75

FSMOne Regular Savings Plan

$1.35

DBS Invest-Saver (Bonds)

$2.50

DBS Invest-Saver (Equities)

$4.10

OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan

$5

POEMS (1 to 2 share counters)

$6

POEMS (3 or more share counters)

$10

The cheapest option for him would be the FSMOne Regular Savings Plan, costing just $1.35 a month. But with 64 worldwide ETFs to choose from, it’s a tad overwhelming for an investment virgin like him.

Another affordable alternative is DBS Invest-Saver, for which he will be paying a modest $2.50 to $4.10 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 Ali 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, which costs a reasonable $1.25 to $3.75 per month.

Saxo logo
Min. Commission Fee US Stocks
US$4
Min. Commission Fee SG Stocks
S$5
Min. Funding
S$2,000

As the OCBC and POEMS offerings are more expensive, Ali will consider them only at a later stage, when he’s earning more money and can put aside more to invest.

What about other banks’ regular savings plans?

Citibank, 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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