How to Use CPF to Invest

A Complete Step by Step Guide on How to Use CPF to Invest (2021)

Many Singaporeans rely on CPF savings to build up a retirement nest egg – but what exactly is the CPF Investment Scheme CPFIS? And how to use CPF to invest? As we all know, instead of taking out from your cash savings, a standard CPF Ordinary Account OA enables savers to enjoy risk-free CPF interest rates, as does a Special Account (SA), with bonus CPF interest up for grabs once your savings have surpassed a certain amount. But these interest rates can leave a lot to be desired.

The CPF Investment Scheme CPFIS takes your savings another step further. Open a CPF Investment Scheme account and you can supercharge your savings by using your CPF funds to purchase unique investments rather than leaving your money stagnating in a standard Ordinary Account with only very basic interest potential.

What is the CPF Investment Scheme and How Does it Work? 

The Central Provident Fund or “CPF” is a government savings scheme that enables Singaporeans to put away 20% of their salary to go towards a MediSave account, retirement account and other purposes. 

What many people don’t know, however, is that it’s entirely possible to invest your CPF funds into stocks, shares and exchange traded funds using the increasingly popular CPF Investment Scheme CPFIS, too.

By moving your Ordinary Account or Special Account to the CPFIS, you can invest in a broad and varied range of investment products, with any returns automatically paid back into your CPF accounts as and when you earn. That said, you won’t be able to withdraw your earnings until age 55 and you will need an Ordinary Account balance of at least $20,000 or a Special Account balance of more than $40,000 to be eligible for the scheme.

 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Using the CPF Investment Scheme? 

If you want to set up CPF investments and start investing your CPF monies in stocks, shares, corporate bonds, and exchange-traded funds, you’ll need to meet the below requirements:

Eligibility Factor Age Legal Status CPF Ordinary Account Balance CPF Special Account Balance
Minimum Requirement 18 years old or more Must not be undischarged bankrupt $20,000 (for CPF OA) $40,000 for CPF SA)

 

How Can I Invest Using My CPF Investment Account and CPF Savings? 

If you want to invest your CPF savings effectively, you’ll need to follow the important steps we have outlined below:

Step 1: Meet the Requirements 

First up, you’ll need to meet the eligibility criteria we shared in the previous section of this article. So, you’ll need to have a minimum balance of $20,000 in your CPF OA and/or $40,000 in your CPF SA. Any CPF monies you have above these limits are defined as “investible savings” in CPFIS investments terminology. This money is essentially free for you to use for whatever investments you please – but there are some limitations.

Step 2: Determine How Much Money you Have for Your Investments 

Next up, you’ll need to determine how much money you have saved in your CPF accounts overall. You can do this by:

  • Logging into MyCPF Online Services or MyCPFapp using your SingPass
  • Visiting the “My Statement” tab to check your account details

You can also check your balance in person at any CPF Service Center. It’s worth noting that there will usually be limits set dictating how much money you are able to invest in certain products. For example, if you are using a CPF OA account, you can only invest up to 10% of your money in gold or up to 35% in stocks – so be careful with this!

Step 3: Know Which Financial Products You Can Invest Your CPF Funds In

Once you’ve established how much money you have in your Ordinary Account OA or CPFIS SA, it’s time to examine the investments market to figure out what types of investments are available to you – and what account types are eligible for each investment option. The table below outlines everything you need to know:

Investment Type  Ordinary Account OA Eligible? Special Account SA available?
Singapore Government Bonds Yes Yes
Annuities  Yes Yes
Treasury Bills Yes  Yes
Endowment Policies Yes Yes
Exchange-Traded Funds ETFs Yes Yes, but never high-risk ETFs 
Unit Trusts Yes Yes, but never high-risk Unit Trusts
Investment-Linked Insurance Products Yes Yes, but never high-risk Insurance Products
Fund Management Accounts Yes No
Eligible Retail Bonds Yes, up to 35% of investible savings can be used No
Shares Yes, up to 35% of investible savings can be used No
Property Funds Yes, up to 35% of investible savings can be used No
Gold ETFs Yes, up to 10% of investible savings can be used No
Other Gold Products Yes, up to 10% of investible savings can be used No

 

As you can see, you will have more investment options available to you if you are using a CPF OA to invest – but you may only be able to put a certain percentage of your investible savings toward certain investments. 

Conversely, investing via your CPF SA is a little more limited, and risk appetite is very important with certain types of investment – as putting your money into anything deemed “high-risk” might be prohibited. You can find more information about what is included under the CPF Investment Scheme CPFIS on the CPF website here.

Step 4: Approach the Investment Products Providers and Start Investing 

You will need to approach any investment products providers directly to begin buying and selling your preferred investments. Suppose you wish to use your CPF Special Account. In that case, you can contact fund management companies and investment administrators quickly and easily – but using your CPF OA may require you to open a brokerage account beforehand.

If you intend to invest via your CPF Ordinary Account, you’ll need to open either a UOB Kay Hian or a DBS or OCBC CPF Investment Account to get the ball rolling. You may have to pay sales charges or trailer fees to the bank, but the fee structure is pretty much the same with all three providers, so you don’t have to worry too much about which bank is cheaper. 

Once your brokerage account has been set up, your bank will liaise with product providers on your behalf each time you choose to buy a stock. More information regarding investment products and financial products providers can be found on the CPF website here.

Frequently Asked Questions About the CPF Investment Scheme, CPF Ordinary Account, and CPF Savings 

Before you start investing, it’s important to ensure you fully understand the rules governing your CPF investment account, which investment products are available to you.  Ensure that investible savings limits and account opening conditions will affect your ability to invest your CPF where you desire. We’ve shared a few popular FAQs below to help you get to grips with anything else you might need to know:

  1. What Are the Key Things I Need to Know Before Investing in CPFIS? 

You’ll need to be at least 18 years old and not undischarged bankrupt before you can apply for CPFIS. You’ll also need to have saved at least $20,000 into your CPF Ordinary Account or $40,000 into your CPF Special Account before you will be deemed eligible. Once you start investing, any returns you earn will go straight back into your CPF accounts. 

  1. How Much is the Potential Return When Investing in CPFIS? 

With so many varieties of investment products on the market, your potential returns can vary dramatically depending on where you choose to invest. Generally speaking, high-risk investments such as Unit Trusts will deliver higher returns than lower-risk assets such as bonds. 

Still, you’ll need to tread carefully and consider speaking to financial advisors to determine which course of action is best for you. As a rule, you ideally want your investments to at least exceed the risk-free interest rates of 2.5% and 4% that are usually earned on standard CPF OA accounts and CPF Special Accounts, respectively.

  1. Will I Lose my Money When Investing in CPIF? 

In 2018, the Singapore Government began implementing important “cooling measures” to help prevent savers from losing considerable amounts of money when investing with CPF. 

These measures have lowered the costs for investors and helped to discourage financial advisors from charging hefty commission fees or trying to talk savers into high-risk investments. 

As with all financial products, you will need to be careful and sensible when investing – but the good news is that administrative fees relating to CPF are capped, and you shouldn’t be overcharged or taken advantage of.

  1. How do I Check my CPFIS Investment? 

You can find your CPF Investment Account CPF IA number or check the status of your investments at any time using MyCPF online services or by logging into CPF’s website or apps. Simply navigate to the “My Statement” page and locate “Section C”, where you should find all the information you need clearly displayed. You can also keep track of your CPF shares by clicking the “Discounted Singtel Shares” section.

  1. How do I Withdraw my CPF Investment?

You can apply to the CPF Board to withdraw from your CPF Investment Scheme Ordinary Account or Special Account once you have fully set aside your Full Retirement Sum FRS in your Retirement Account RA.

  1. When Can I Request a Withdrawal?

You will need to be at least 55 years old to request a withdrawal. What’s more, a withdrawal can only be processed if you have eligible withdrawable monies in your CPF account.

Final Thoughts – What Do I Need to Know About the CPF Investment Scheme?

Investing your CPF savings can help you supercharge your savings potential and push your hard-earned CPF monies that extra mile. But CPF accounts and CPF Board rules are complex and confusing, so you’ll want to carefully follow the steps outlined above. You’ll also need to make sure that you:

  • Save more than $20,000 or $40,000 before you apply (depending on your account type)
  • Know your CPF money balance and what constitutes “investible savings.”
  • Study what investments are available to you before you start investing
  • Invest your CPF wisely according to risk appetite and market conditions

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