Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 10 July 2013

Reply to Parliamentary Question on Financial Literacy Levels amongst the Elderly




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 9 July 2013

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Tan Su Shan, NMP


To ask the Prime Minister (a) if he will give an update on the financial literacy levels amongst the elderly since the introduction of MoneySENSE; and (b) how successful is the Mental Capacity Act in protecting the elderly who lack the ability to make the right financial decision for themselves.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1   The last national-scale financial literacy survey was conducted in 2005. Retirees and those soon to retire, or pre-retirees, were found to have some good basic money management habits and had taken some basic steps in retirement planning. However, as with the working population, they were not very knowleadgeable about features of common financial products. Pre-retirees generally had not planned how to use their CPF savings during retirement but were keen to learn more about retirement planning.

2   In response to the findings, MoneySENSE has worked with partners such as the Central Provident Fund Board (CPF), Council for Third Age (C3A), and industry associations to make available educational guides and talks for seniors on investing, retirement planning, stretching the dollar during retirement, and estate planning.

3   We will continue to do so. A National Financial Literacy Survey will be conducted shortly which will provide an updated picture of the financial education needs of different population segments, including the elderly. The findings should be ready  in Q4 of this year.

4   Ms Tan’ also asked about the Mental Capacity Act and how successful it has been in protecting the elderly who are unable to make their own financial decisions. Since the Act’s provisions came into force in 2010, more than 4,000 applications have been made to appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney, in other words, a decision-maker on financial matters for persons who no longer have mental capacity.  About 70% of these Lasting Powers of Attorney were made by persons older than 55 years. 

5   Under the Act, the Public Guardian also has powers to supervise the court-appointed decision-makers, and deal with any complaints on how the nominated and court-appointed decision-makers are exercising their powers.  Based on annual reporting, the majority of court-appointed decision-makers are discharging their responsibilities.  Only a very small number needs closer monitoring.