How to invest your CPF: 4 things you need to know

NAV TL;DR

If you don’t have time to read through the whole article, you can check out our short version below:

To invest your CPF monies, you need to be at least 18 years old and not an undischarged bankrupt, and have more than S$20,000 in your Ordinary Account

Calculate how much you can invest

Open a CPF investment account with an approved CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) agent, such as DBS

You can only invest in CPF-included shares

UNDERSTAND YOUR DIFFERENT CPF ACCOUNTS

The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a government savings scheme that requires Singaporeans and permanent residents to save 20% of their salary to fund their retirement, healthcare, and housing needs.

It pays an interest of 2.5% p.a. for savings in the Ordinary Account (OA), and 4% p.a. for savings in the Special Account (SA), Medisave Account and Retirement Account. An extra 1% p.a. interest is paid on the first S$60,000 of your combined balance (including up to S$20,000 from your OA).

Many Singaporeans use their CPF monies to buy homes. Far fewer Singaporeans know how to invest those funds in shares, unit trusts, exchange-traded funds, and bonds.

At the same time, knowing when and how to invest your CPF can be extremely useful to grow your retirement fund. In this article, we focus on how you can use your CPF-OA to invest in shares, and what you need to look out for to protect your CPF savings.

To start investing in shares with your CPF, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old and not an undischarged bankrupt
  • Have more than S$20,000 in your OA

These criteria are there to protect CPF members in two ways. One, it ensures that you are at the minimum age to make responsible decisions for yourself. Two, that you still have some savings in your CPF even if all your investments go wrong.

There are two methods to calculate how much you can invest using your CPF-OA. Note that CPF Board will always take the lower of the two methods.

If you have S$50,000 in your OA, this is how the two methods work:

  • Method 1: You can invest up to 35% of the investible savings
    35% of S$50,000 = S$17,500 available to invest
  • Method 2: The first S$20,000 of the OA cannot be invested
    S$50,000 - S$20,000 = S$30,000 available to invest

Verdict: As CPF will always take the lower of the two amounts, you can invest up to S$17,500.

You can also let the CPF Board calculate it for you. All you have to do is log in to your CPF account and select “My Statement”. Under Section C, you can find a segment called “Stocks” which shows you how much you are allowed to invest.

If you want to invest your CPF OA in shares, you have to open a CPF investment account with an approved CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS) agent. There are only three approved CPFIS agents in Singapore, the three local banks.

Once your CPF investment account is approved, pass the account number to your broker and they will do the link-up for you. Moving forward, if you want to buy shares using your CPF, simply inform your broker before the trade, and they will proceed from there.

Or if you are trading online, simply select ‘CPF’ as your payment method for CPF included stocks.

Please note that CPF-included shares DO NOT necessarily mean they are safe to invest in. All it means is that these shares meet these five criteria (reproduced from CPF):

  1. The shares are offered by a company incorporated in Singapore
  2. The shares are listed on the SGX Main Board as primary listing (The shares are not new Catalist shares or shares transferred from SGX Main Board to Catalist (except for former SESDAQ shares))
  3. The shares are traded in Singapore dollars
  4. Agent Banks are allowed by the company to appoint all CPF shareholders of the company as proxies to attend and vote at meetings
  5. The shares must not be on the SGX watch-list

There are over a thousand companies in the SGX and more than 400 of them are currently CPF-included shares. You can find a list of all CPF-included shares here.

This article, which first appeared on The Fifth Person, is reproduced with edits and permission.

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