RinggitPlus Survey Finds That Malaysians Are On The Brink Of Financial Disaster
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RinggitPlus Co-fouder & Director Hann Liew with RMFLS 2022 partners (from L-R) Khadijah Amir (Visa), Syafiq Kamarudin (FEN), Daphne Lourdes (Atome), Mohd Azlan Masood (ASNB), Gareth Koh (OCBC), & Zuraidah Ahmad (Experian)

As the world braces itself for a recession and continued inflation in 2023, Malaysians are in their worst-ever financial position to prepare for it. Data from the RinggitPlus Malaysian Financial Literacy Survey (RMFLS) 2022 revealed various painful truths on the current financial state of the rakyat, including depleted savings, cashflow issues, and other worrying trends.

Malaysians are still struggling from the financial impacts of the pandemic

Malaysians from all walks of life are now facing severe financial challenges that leave them vulnerable to financial shocks, as various financial aids reduced the impact in 2020 and 2021. 70% of respondents indicated that they save less than RM500/month or do not manage to save at all. This is the worst-ever result tracked by the RMFLS in 5 years.  

At the other end of the spectrum, the amount of Malaysians who manage to save more than RM1,500 per month has also dropped significantly. From 20% in 2020, the figure has dropped four times lower to just 5% in 2022.

The RMFLS 2022 results also indicate that more Malaysians are struggling with less savings in hand, as 63% of respondents stated that they can survive for 3 months or less with only their savings (52% last year). A similar pattern is also seen where 55% of Malaysians spent exactly or more than what they earned each month (44% last year), essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck.

With depleted savings and higher cost of goods, the survey also highlighted a worrying trend where more credit cardholders are not paying off their bills in full – just 55% in 2022 compared to 70% last year.

Forgoing long-term security and wealth generation for short-term relief

With the challenges in cashflow and savings, the survey results show that Malaysians are choosing short-term monetary relief over long-term financial stability. A staggering 65% of respondents above 21 stated that they will consider applying for more Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) withdrawals if the government allows it.

In addition, the survey also found that 52% of Malaysians above the age of 18 have not started investing. Meanwhile, a majority of those who are investing have low-risk appetites but medium-term investment horizons which is not optimal – though these may be influenced by current financial challenges and global economic outlooks.

Current trends a wake-up call to all parties to take action

“The financial effects of the pandemic have been devastating and our survey findings this year reaffirm that Malaysians have real financial challenges to address. It is a harsh reality not only for the rakyat, but also for policymakers and industry players – this is a generational issue that requires long-term solutions with sustained and concerted support from all parties. We cannot leave anyone behind,” said Hann Liew, Co-Founder and Director of RinggitPlus.

In line with this, RinggitPlus recently introduced a new section to its Savings vertical on RinggitPlus.com that highlights the various cash management solutions in the market as it aims to encourage Malaysians to save and earn best-in-class returns. More products will be listed throughout 2023, and the section already includes an easy registration process through the RinggitPlus WhatsApp chatbot.

Finally, as part of its commitment towards enabling better access to financial literacy initiatives and education to more Malaysians, RinggitPlus will begin offering its content in Bahasa Malaysia in 2023.

Hann Liew, Co-Founder and Director of RinggitPlus

“The new section on the Savings vertical at RinggitPlus.com is timely as it highlights a relatively new product line in the industry, and will help those looking to research and compare for the best savings products in the market. Meanwhile, offering our content in Bahasa Malaysia is part of our mission to extend our range of services to other languages and thus reach out to more Malaysians,” said Hann.

Financial literacy continues to be a major step towards helping Malaysians overcome financial challenges and take control of their financial health. As RMFLS celebrated its 5th anniversary, the annual survey continues to highlight the importance of financial literacy among Malaysians and provides data points that have been used by various organizations, education bodies, and governmental sectors towards guiding Malaysians to take control of their financial health.

Click here to download the full RMFLS 2022 report.

The RinggitPlus Malaysian Financial Literacy Survey 2022 was made possible by our strategic partners, including our main partner Amanah Saham Nasional Berhad (ASNB) and other partners Visa International, OCBC Bank, Experian Malaysia, and Atome Malaysia.

***

RMFLS 2022: Key Findings

The nationwide survey was conducted in 3 languages using a self-administered online questionnaire through a third-party analytics platform, based on a statistically-accurate sampling of 3,144 Malaysians aged 18 and above.

Savings and Spendings

  • 70% of respondents save less than RM500 per month – the highest year-on-year increase since RMFLS began in 2018.
  • Only 5% of Malaysians save more than RM1,500 per month, down from 15% in 2021 and 20% in 2020.
  • 63% of respondents can survive 3 months or less with only their savings (vs 51% in 2021).
  • 55% of Malaysians spend exactly or more than what they earn each month (vs 44% in 2021).
  • 71% of respondents believe that they are in control of their money. However, 43% of them spend exactly or more than what they earn each month. 

Retirement

  • 82% of Malaysians believe EPF savings is not enough for retirement.
  • Among those who think that their EPF savings are not enough for retirement, 41% have yet to start financially planning for their retirement.
  • 66% of respondents would still consider applying for more EPF withdrawals if the government allows it.
  • 28% of respondents aged 35 and above have not started planning for their retirement.

Investments

  • 52% of Malaysians above 18 have not yet started investing.
  • Of those who have started investing, 52% of respondents have low risk appetites preferring capital preservation. On a related note, 50% of the same group prefer medium-term investments of 5-10 years.
  • Youth investors (age 18-35) have the same low risk appetite (54%) for investments.
  • The top 3 investment products preferred by Malaysian investors are: unit trusts, stocks and cryptocurrencies.
  • The three most important factors when choosing to invest with a robo-advisor are trusted brand (59%), Shariah-compliant (41%), and an established track record & historical performance (38%).

Other observations and trends

  • 45% admitted to having shared information about their personal finances online.
  • 59% of respondents do not know or are completely unaware of what a credit score is.
  • 32% of Malaysians do not know the benefits of a good credit score.
  • Only 55% of credit card holders pay their bills in full every month. The remaining 45% either pay only the minimum amount (18%) or whatever that they can afford that month (27%).
  • Cashless payments are now the preferred choice among Malaysians: QR payment (66%), contactless card (63%) and cash (56%).
  • 41% of Malaysians have used a BNPL service.
  • 4 out 10 respondents do not have a medical card.
  • 43% of respondents with dependents (married, married with children, divorced/widowed with children) do not own a life insurance policy.
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Anonymous
1 month ago

Don’t be fooled. Malaysians are very good at hiding their wealth.

NoName
1 month ago

Wait, people actually saves RM500 per month on average? I need to rethink my finances now…

Maybe this is because I’m in my early 20’s and just started working, but I thought saving more thank RM300 is pretty good.

How do I even start getting my stuff in order? I’m overwhelmed by all of… this and honestly I don’t know what half of the acronym means.

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