People and prosperity

Big plans and how to make them happen

Have a clear plan for the future like the emerging affluent in our recent survey? Follow some simple steps to get there

We recently asked 7,000 emerging affluent consumers in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Kenya and Nigeria about their plans for the future, and their answers were surprisingly optimistic.

At a time when many worry about the global economy, this group of people are highly confident in achieving their long-term financial goals.

Typically, they are young professionals and entrepreneurs with growing disposable income and USD10,000 to USD100,000 in investible assets. They often have an international mindset, frequently travel for business and leisure, and are tech-savvy.

Making a plan is essential

While individual circumstances vary, our study shows that the emerging affluent in Africa and Asia often share the same spending plans and long-term aspirations. On average, they plan to save 30 per cent of total household income, for emergencies, children’s education or to buy property.

We see this, too, in our retail banking business, where the emerging affluent segment is fast-growing. As people’s disposable incomes rise, their financial needs become more diverse and they want advice on how to continue building their wealth.

Making a plan is essential. If you have a clear set of financial goals, here are some steps to help you reach them:

Get the basics right

Before committing to savings or other big purchases, it’s wise to have a minimum sum of money for emergencies – six months’ living costs, for example. This way you know your day-to-day expenses are covered, should you find yourself out of work, or if your business hits a downturn.

Planning for emergencies also means having the right insurance protection, to cover medical expenses should you or any member of your family fall ill and need medical treatment.

Sort out your goals

What are your ambitions in the short, medium and long term, and how much are you willing to set aside each month to pursue them?


Whether you are looking to buy a home or invest in a property, affordability is an important consideration as the lifetime of a mortgage can be up to 30 years or longer. Property is less liquid than other investments, so familiarise yourself with the workings of the mortgage market.

Make sure you are getting a competitive home loan rate by comparing what different banks are offering. Half a percentage point extra on your interest rate could cost you a substantial amount. For example, the difference between paying a 5 per cent and a 4.5 per cent interest rate on a USD500,000 loan over 25 years is USD43,000 – money that could go towards renovations or new furniture.

Some banks offer international mortgage solutions which make paying your mortgage instalments seamless

You need to understand the entire buying process, including any fees that need to be paid and when to ensure that you have fully budgeted for everything, including the down payment, stamp duty, conveyance fees and monthly mortgage payments. Be clear on what needs to be paid up front, so you aren’t caught unaware.

Increasingly, buyers are looking overseas for property investments. If this is part of your plan, getting financial approval early will put you in a good bargaining position, particularly in overheated competitive market. It’s also important to consider the costs of managing the property overseas. Some banks offer international mortgage solutions which make paying your mortgage instalments seamless.

Children’s education

Plan as early as possible, bearing in mind the three W’s: what, where and when.

What type of education do you need to save for? Just formal education or also extracurricular activities such as music and art? Where will your child study? Do you plan to send them to a local school or university or overseas? You may incur three to five times the cost overseas due to higher tuition fees and additional living expenses.

The earlier you start saving for your child’s education, the more likely you will be able to achieve your target. For example, if you are saving for your child to start university at 18, you will need to save or invest 50 per cent more each month if you start when he is 10 years old instead of five years old, assuming a modest annual of return of two per cent.

When you decide to start a savings plan, you may be confronted with many choices, from regular deposits to endowment savings plan or mutual funds. Seek advice from a financial adviser to find the best solution for you.

Stick to your plan

There is no one-size-fits-all path to achieving your financial goals. The amount you need to put aside depends on your time horizon and your aspirations. What is important is to define a plan as early as possible, and to stick to it. See your bank’s advisor if you need help with your big plans.

Our study reveals that, on average, as many as 87 per cent of the emerging affluent in Asia and Africa believe they will achieve their long-term wealth goals. Having a concrete plan will help you fulfil your dreams too.