Singlife Grow: How Does This ILP with No Lock-In Compare to Other Forms of Investment?

Singlife Grow ILP Insurance Linked Policy - what's the difference?

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If you recall, we last wrote about Singlife Grow, an Investment-Linked Policy (ILP) with a wealth accumulation focus, in December last year.

To get Grow, you’ll need a Singlife Account*, Singlife’s insurance savings plan product with a current crediting rate of 1.5% p.a. for the first S$10,000. You’ll also need to answer some simple questions for Singlife to assess your relevant investment knowledge and experience (as per the Monetary Authority of Singapore guidelines, you’ll need to pass the Customer Knowledge Assessment (CKA) should you wish to buy an ILP.

Once through, you can purchase Grow directly online — there’s also no lock-in period and no withdrawal charges.

*From mid-December 2020, all new sign-ups for the Singlife Account will be put on waitlist. If you’d like to be notified when the Singlife Account reopens, you can put your name on the waiting list here

In this follow-up article about Singlife Grow — since we already discussed how Grow is different from a traditional ILP, how it helps to broaden one’s investment portfolio, as well as its features — let’s see how Grow compares against other forms of investment such as passive investing, robo-advisors, and Unit Trusts/Exchange Traded Funds/Money Market Funds.

 

Grow vs active/passive investing

What kind of investor are you?

Do you like to buy something then promptly proceed to forget about it, only to discover decades later that it earned you $X amount simply due to the power of the upward trajectory of corporate profits with time? You’d prefer to be invested for a longer term, and don’t get distracted by short-term shake-ups. Sure, you still buy and sell products at times (rare), but you’d rather limit the actions you do. Just like watching paint dry, you’re a passive investor.

Or do you prefer to constantly check your investment portfolio, tweaking your holdings from time to time, and adopting a hands-on approach? You’re always on the lookout for opportunities in the market where you can swoop in and capitalise on short-term price fluctuations. Once you’ve made your profit, you’re out and looking for your next target. As an active investor, playing the long game is too boring (and slow) for your confident self.

 

Best of both worlds

With Grow, it’s a bit of both. While it’s actively managed by professional fund managers, all passive investors need to do is to invest their funds, monitor it from time to time, but otherwise sit back, relax and enjoy the cruise.

Singlife’s Grow is managed by the experts from Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI). All Grow investors need to do is to select from 3 simple risk-rated portfolios — conservative, balanced, or dynamic and ASI will do the rest.

How it works: Based on the selected portfolio type, ASI will invest your Grow funds into a combination of sub-funds (weightings decided by ASI). The experts actively invest across and help Grow customers rebalance their portfolios to achieve an optimal balance of risk and return.

TL;DR: It’s like engaging experts to do the active investing bit for you. All you need to do is to provide the moolah.

 

Grow vs robo-advisors

Now, how does Singlife’s Grow compare to robos? Both are digital, so it’s all the same, right? Well, no.

Here’s the thing: True-blue robo-advisors are a bunch of algorithms set up to follow a logic. It’s a bunch of computer codes that determine the fund’s investment decisions. Customisation is possible, but could be limited.

Don’t worry, robots won’t take over the world just yet: These robo-advisories can’t (yet) capture all your nuances and customise accordingly, or execute trades that don’t fit within their framework of computer logic.

However, there’s no denying that robo-advisors have been gaining popularity in recent years for their ease of use and cost-effectiveness.

Nevertheless, there’s still a bit of human element in our robo friends. Investment experts (or mathematical geniuses) built those algorithms, and there are humans who monitor and tweak the code from time to time. This is to ensure that the algorithms are still making sound investment decisions, especially after a black swan event happens (such as Covid-19).

While Singlife’s Grow exists digitally, it’s not a robo-advisory. Although you purchase it digitally and can monitor/manage it via an app, the funds are still managed by humans — in this case, the fund managers from ASI. Unlike a bunch of code that follows logic and a pre-programmed trajectory, the humans managing the funds can respond accordingly as events unfold, understand the smallest of nuances and possibly make more time-sensitive investment decisions.

 

Grow vs UTs/ETFs/MMFs

So how does Grow, an ILP, compare to Unit Trusts (UTs), Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and Money Market Funds (MMFs)? Here’s a quick run down on the key differences:

 

ILPs

These are a marriage of life insurance and investment. Depending on the focus (wealth accumulation or protection), the proportion of coverage and investment is adjusted. Singlife’s Grow is an ILP with a wealth accumulation focus. While it does have insurance protection (death/terminal illness benefit), it should only serve to complement your existing life insurance coverage as most of this ILP is channeled into investment.

 

UTs

Investing in a unit trust means that your money joins a pool of funds contributed by other investors. This pool of funds is then invested in a portfolio of assets by a fund manager, in accordance with the fund’s stated investment approach and objective. While this is somewhat similar to an ILP, a unit trust has no protection component.

 

ETFs

Like UTs and ILPs, ETFs comprise a pool of investors’ money and a stated directive. However, ETFs are listed on a stock exchange, while UTs and ILPs can only be bought directly from the bank, broker or insurance company. While there are other technicalities involved, an ETF is basically an investment fund that tracks the returns of a stock or commodity index like the S&P 500 or the Straits Times Index. Due to its listed nature, an ETF can have fluctuating Net Asset Value throughout the same day.

 

MMFs

With a Money Market Fund (or Money Market Mutual Fund), funds from investors are also pooled for investment, typically in short-term debt-based financial instruments (maturity in a few months to a year, so very liquid). MMFs aren’t listed on the stock exchange. Due to lower volatility, MMFs tend to have slight lower returns.

 

What about Grow?

In Grow’s case, the actively managed portfolio invests in global equities (US, Hong Kong SAR, China, Singapore, even Europe etc) as well as fixed income (like MMFs or bonds), depending on the customer’s risk profile.

The conservative Grow portfolio could be 80% bonds/fixed income and 20% equities; while balanced is 50-50, and the aggressive portfolio goes 80% into equities and 20% in bonds/fixed income.

In a market with plenty of options, those new to investing might be relieved that the allocation is decided by an experienced fund manager, and rebalanced regularly. This dynamism is unlike an index fund (like an ETF), where you just track a basket of stocks, or a themed product/fund, where there are predetermined investment objectives and approaches.

 

Singlife’s Grow portfolios and asset class allocation (Mar 2021)

 

To access Grow’s latest portfolios and asset class allocation, visit the Singlife’s Grow website, scroll down to “Learn more about Singlife’s Grow” and click on “factsheet”.

How is Grow doing now?

For my own research purposes (and also curiosity’s sake), I put some cash into Grow at the end of 2020 for my own research purposes. In the almost 4 months since then, while the fund performance chart shows some ups and downs, my Balanced portfolio has grown by an encouraging 3.5% (after deducting the management fee of 0.25% of the account value, which is payable per quarter).

Okay, not bad. Considering how interest rates have been generally low since our world changed due to Covid-19.

Here’s the official portfolios performance of Singlife’s Grow (Mar 2021):

Okay, so maybe you’re not particularly impressed by Grow’s portfolios performance. I mean, it’s not as amazing as what others have achieved by capitalising on market volatility or the massive market rally — but it’s slow and steady, which is my cup of tea.

In a situation of high market volatility, while gains can be huge, the same can be said about losses. So far, Grow seems to have, for a lack of a better word, grown. According to a Singlife spokesperson, the “objective is to be very careful when managing customers’ money, with a view of sustainable, stable growth over the long term”.

To sign up for Singlife’s Grow, you’ll need to have a Singlife Account (currently waitlist-only) and pass the CKA. The minimum investment is a S$1,000 single premium payment, but you can opt to make recurring single premium payments (from S$100/month) and ad-hoc premium payments as well.

Find out more about Singlife’s Grow here.

 

The information is meant for your general knowledge and does not regard any specific investment objectives, financial situations or particular needs any person might have and should not be relied upon as the provision of financial advice. 

Singlife’s Grow is an Investment-Linked Policy (ILP) which invests in the respective ILP sub-funds within your chosen portfolio. Investment products are subject to investment risks including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. The portfolio performance is not guaranteed and the value of the units and the income accruing to the units (if any) may fall or rise. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.

A product summary, terms and conditions and fact sheet relating to Singlife’s Grow are available. You should read the product summary, terms and conditions and fact sheet before making a commitment to purchase.

The policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact Singlife or visit the LIA or SDIC web-sites (www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg). 

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

Information is correct as of 22 April 2021.