This Versus That

DBS vs OCBC vs POEMS: Which Regular Savings Plan Should You Choose?

regular savings plan

According to a report by The Straits Times, 52% of Singaporeans admitted to gambling in 2017 – that’s up 8% from the 44% of 2014. Ridiculous, right? So this year, we suggest you actually make good on your 2019 “new year new me” resolution and skip that trip to Singapore Pools.

Instead of praying to tio 4D, consider growing your money through investments. If you think about it, it’s still a gamble, except with WAY better odds that the 1 in 10,000 that the first prize gives you.

But wait! Don’t you need lots of capital and effort to invest? Lottery tickets are so much cheaper and easier to obtain! Maybe in the past that was true, but with a regular savings plan there’s no excuse NOT to start investing the second you turn 18.


What is a regular savings plan?

A regular savings plan invests a fixed amount of funds every month into buying shares or unit trusts. regular savings plan uses an investment method called dollar-cost averaging to protect the investor from most of the volatility of stocks.

Dollar-cost averaging uses the same amount of funds to buy more when prices are low and buy less when prices are high. Learn more about dollar-cost averaging here.

A regular savings plan is the best option if you are a beginner investor. It is also suitable if you are someone who does not have the time or the patience to watch the stock market regularly and react accordingly to fluctuations. It is designed for medium to long-term investments, so don’t expect to make a quick buck.


What regular savings plans are available?

Singapore currently offers 3 options: DBS Invest-Saver, OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan and POEMS Share Builders Plan. (Previously, Maybank also offered a Monthly Investment Plan, but it’s been discontinued as of July 2019.)

In a bid to remain competitive, all of them allow you to begin investing with as little as $100 a month. What sets them apart are (a) the share counters you can invest in, and (b) the cost of investing with them.

Share Counters AvailableNikko AM STI ETFLion-Philip S-REIT ETF+ 20 blue chip share countersPhilip SING ETFSPDR STI ETFLion-Philip S-REIT ETFABF Singapore Bond ETFNikko AM STI ETF+34 major share countersABF Singapore Bond Index FundNikko AM STI ETFFees0.5% for ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund1% for Nikko AM STI0.3% of total investment amount, min. $5 per counter ORflat 0.88% of investment amount if you are under 30$6 for up to 2 counters$10 for 3 or moreDividendsCredited into your DBS/POSB debiting accountCash dividends go into your OCBC deposit accountStock dividends or bonus issues safe-kept with OCBC SecuritiesReinvested into preferred counterORPaid out in cashWhich Regular Savings PlanShould You Use?Blue ChipInvestmentPlanShareBuildersPlan

Regular savings plans Share counters Fees Dividends
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan Nikko AM ST ETF, Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF

+ 20 blue chip share counters

0.3% of total investment amount, min. $5 per counter


flat 0.88% of investment amount if you are under 30

Cash dividends go into your OCBC deposit account, while stock dividends or bonus issues are safe-kept with OCBC Securities
POEMS Share Builders Plan Phillip SING ETF, SPDR STI ETF, Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF, ABF Singapore Bond ETF, Nikko AM STI ETF

+34 major share counters

$6 for up to 2 counters, $10 for 3 or more Paid out in cash OR reinvested into preferred counter
DBS Invest-Saver ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund, Nikko AM STI ETF 0.5% f0r ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund, 1% for Nikko AM STI Credited into your DBS/POSB debiting account

Each regular savings plan available gives you the opportunity to invest in an STI ETF. This is an Exchange Traded Fund that invests in the top 30 listed companies on the Singapore Stock Exchange. That means, using as little as $100, you can invest in 30 Singapore blue-chip companies including DBS, OCBC, SingTel, UOB and Keppel Corp.

Currently, POEMS gives you the chance to invest in the most share counters: 5 ETFs and 34 non-ETFs, making up a total of 39 share counters.

OCBC is further behind with just 22 share counters. But it still beats DBS which only offers 2 options – the ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund and Nikko AM STI ETF.

When it comes to dividends earned, POEMS and DBS offer the ability to channel any dividends you earn back into your regular savings plan. OCBC does not offer such an option for now.

Back to top


How much does it cost to invest in a regular savings plan?

Regular savings plan Fee ($100 investment) Fee ($500 investment) Fee ($1,000 investment)
DBS Invest-Saver (ABF SG) $0.50 $2.50 $5
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan (under 30 y/o) $0.88 $4.40 $8.80
DBS Invest-Saver (Nikko AM) $1 $5 $10
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan $5 $5 $5
POEMS (1 to 2 share counters) $6 $6 $6
POEMS (3 or more share counters) $10 $10 $10

DBS Invest-Saver charges the most by percentage, with fees of 1% of the amount invested in the Nikko AM Singapore STI ETF and 0.5% for the ABF Singapore Bond Index Fund. But there’s no minimum charge, so if even you invest only $100 a month, the fee will either be only $0.50 or $1 a month.

If you are under 30 years old and looking to invest a small amount of money, the OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan has a really good promotional rate to encourage young investors. You need only pay 0.88% of the total investment amount, so if you invest $100, the fee is just $0.88.

If you’re 30 and above, you will be charged the usual rate of 0.3% of the total investment, subject to a minimum of $5. That means you’ll be charged $5 on any investment amount from $100 to $1,666. Note that OCBC also charges you the same amount when you cash in your investments.

POEMS has a simpler system, where it depends on how many counters you’re investing in. If your investment amount is in 1 or 2 counters, sales charge is a flat rate of $6. For 3 or more counters, sales charge is a flat rate of $10.


So, which regular savings plan should you use?

Ideally, you would want to reduce the cost of investing.

If you’re planning to subscribe to an RSP with a small amount, say, between $100 and $500 a month, it’s cheaper for you to go with DBS Invest-Saver or OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan (if you’re under 30 years old). The low sales fees of 1% or less means you pay between $1 and $5 a month only.

If you’re looking to invest $1,000 or more, you can still keep costs low by going with either DBS Invest-Saver (ABF SG) or OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan as the fee will only be about $5 a month. At this point you can also consider POEMS, which charges $6 for up to 2 share counters.


Case study: Mr Muhammad Ali

Take 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. He is an investment virgin who doesn’t have the expertise or the patience for a more complex investment. He decides to invest using a regular savings plan.

Regular savings plan Fee for $500 investment
DBS Invest-Saver (ABF SG) $2.50
DBS Invest-Saver (Nikko AM) $5
OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan $5
POEMS (1 to 2 share counters) $6
POEMS (3 or more share counters) $10

The cheapest regular savings plan for him is DBS Invest-Saver, where the monthly fee will only be $2.50 (for ABF Singapore ETF) or $5 (Nikko AM). However, the downside of this plan is that it’s highly restrictive and only allows him to invest in these two ETFs. 

Meanwhile, the OCBC BCIP fee is a reasonable $5 for the investment he’s considering. OCBC also has a good number of blue chip stocks to choose from and is not overwhelming. However, OCBC also charges the same fee for selling the shares, which could be a dealbreaker.

Mr Ali feels overwhelmed by the various share counters POEMS makes available to him. If he chooses to invest his $500 in just two counters, he will be paying at least $6 a month, or more than 1% of the transaction fee, which really eats into the potential profits (no matter how lucrative).

After careful consideration, Mr Ali decides to go for the DBS Invest-Saver, even though it doesn’t give him a whole lot of options. Should he develop a greater appetite for risk in the future, he may not be satisfied with the choice of two ETFs — but it’s better than letting the money rot in a savings account for now!

Invest-SaverBlue ChipInvestmentPlanShareBuildersPlanABF SGNikkoAM1 to 2sharecounters3+sharecountersFeesProsConsS$2.50S$5S$5S$6S$10Cheapest regular savings planHe can only invest in these two ETFsHas a good number of blue chip stocks to choose fromOCBC charges the same fee for selling sharesLarge number of share countersHuge variety might be too overwhelmingMr. Muhammad AliMonthly incomeS$3000Wants to set asideS$500for investments

Have you invested in a regular savings plan before? Share your experiences with us!


Related articles

How to Decide Which Investment Brokerage in Singapore Is Best For You

5 Different Ways You Can Invest in Stocks & Bonds

“Investing” in the Lottery? The Math behind Toto and 4D in Singapore

Tags: , , ,