SJP Asia study finds the sandwich generations in Singapore and Hong Kong facing mounting financial pressures

St. James’s Place Asia (SJP) has launched a new study which finds the sandwich generation in Singapore and Hong Kong have an increasing desire to be prepared for financial independence in retirement.

Titled A Generation Under Pressure: Asia’s Sandwich Class, the study of 1,021 members of the sandwich generations in Singapore (520) and Hong Kong (501) looks at the growing financial challenges of those “sandwiched” between the competing demands and financial responsibilities for both younger and older generations.

Growing Pressures for Singapore and Hong Kong’s Sandwich Class

The pressures of supporting parents and children on the sandwich generation remain in Singapore and Hong Kong, with 64% feeling it is their duty to financially support their parents however they need, although for 30% this only applies for critical and urgent items.

While caring for parents is a top priority, around two thirds (64%) in Singapore feel that providing financial support for their parents is hampering their own financial achievements, 58% for Hong Kong. In both markets, almost two thirds (65%) also feel this is reducing their ability to save for a retirement and the future for their children that they hope for.

In fact, more than half (57%) believe that their parents retired too early, and 55% harbour some level of frustration for the financial support they now need to provide for them.


Gary Harvey, CEO, SJP Singapore, said: “The fulfilment of care and sense of responsibility for elders is a highly regarded virtue around the world, but particularly in many Asian societies like Singapore. Part of the difficulty in tackling retirement for elderly parents is determining how much they now need when accounting for inflation and rising medical costs. If you add that to the worries of financially supporting young children as well as navigating ongoing economic uncertainties, the need for this generation to effectively balance these priorities and plan for their future is more important than ever.”


Working Harder but Saving Less

To prioritise both the needs of their children and parents as well as themselves, the study finds that the current sandwich generation is working harder but saving less.

More than three quarters (77%) believe that investing in their children’s future places pressure on other areas of their financial planning. Three in four (75%) are concerned that their children will require and request more financial support than they can provide in the future.

Interestingly, this group faces a conundrum as 67% feel their children’s financial needs should take precedence over their parents’ but 74% are also concerned about providing children with too much financial support and spoiling them.


Oliver Wickham, Head of Business, SJP Hong Kong and Shanghai, said: “With rising inflation and cost of living, Singapore and Hong Kong remain some of the most expensive places to live in and it is not surprising that many are concerned with having to financially manage multiple generations and their needs. It requires a careful balancing act to ensure there is enough support for everyone while planning ahead for one’s own retirement.”


Breaking Out of the Sandwich Generation Cycle

Intergenerational wealth and succession planning have grown in importance for the sandwich generation with slightly over half (51%) having made plans to transfer their wealth and assets to family members, but only 32% intend to do this within the next five to 10 years.

While 80% believe that their family is effective and organised in their approach towards intergenerational wealth planning, more than two thirds (68%) lack understanding about how to manage their intergenerational wealth transfer effectively. 68% also do not have adequate knowledge around the tax implications of succession planning.

Given their unique set of financial problems, those in the sandwich generation in Hong Kong and Singapore are more likely to seek financial advice with 85% saying they seek financial advice before making important decisions, compared to 78% across the general population.


Gary Harvey, CEO, SJP Singapore, said: “There is a huge challenge for the sandwich generation to consider how they can continue to provide for their parents whilst preparing financially for their children’s future, all while ensuring that they can plan for their own retirement and reducing their own financial dependence in their later years. Receiving trusted, professional advice, and having a proper financial plan are critical in achieving this challenging objective, and can help reduce the complexities of intergenerational wealth and succession planning and the stress this can place on families in the future.”


Oliver Wickham, Head of Business, SJP Hong Kong and Shanghai, said: “Planning ahead for wealth and asset transfer is still one of the most overlooked areas of wealth management that causes enormous stress to family members. This is really where support and third parties to assist with financial planning can help to reduce the complexities when it comes ensuring families have a plan for the future that protects against the unexpected and financial distress.”