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This article first appeared in Personal Wealth, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on April 4 - 10, 2016

Malaysian women have made great strides in financial and retirement planning over the past few decades, but more needs to be done. According to HSBC’s report on the

Future of Retirement: A Balancing Act, released on March 18, many Malaysian women (69%) are unable to save enough for a comfortable retirement because of their more pressing financial obligations, such as mortgages and other debts.

Annie Hor, a financial planner with Harveston Financial Advisory Sdn Bhd, says while she has observed a heightened awareness of financial planning among Malaysian women in general, those who are single and below 30 tend to be less concerned about their financial situation.

“Many married men leave the financial matters to their wives, such as paying the household bills or their children’s education. Hence, women have become more empowered and are looking into financial planning not just for themselves but also their spouse,” says Hor.

Single women who are already in their thirties tend to take more ownership of their overall finances, she adds. “When you are single, you really have to depend on yourself and ensure that there is no gap in your planning.”

This article first appeared in Personal Wealth, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 26, 2016 - January 1, 2017

In financial planning, I always recommend two important things before looking at investments — insurance and emergency funds. Insurance is fundamental to all planning. It is crucial to have an insurance plan that will cover the rising medical costs. Since you only intend to migrate in five years (that is a long time), I suggest getting the insurance.

There are many plans available, such as whole life, investment-linked and term plans. Term plans should work for you if you are looking for a short-term plan. You should also include critical illness and personal accident coverage in your plan.

When you say migrate, do you mean for good? If you are keeping the option of returning in the future open, I suggest that you keep your medical insurance in Malaysia until you have a job and insurance in the country you move to before cancelling the plan you have here.

Remember, there is always a waiting period before you are covered under an insurance plan. I have clients who have medical cards in both Malaysia and the country they now reside in as they are keeping the option of returning open.

This article first appeared in Malay Mail Online, on April 1, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 ― Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani’s suggestion that Malaysians put off home ownership to avoid long-term debt is valid advice, according to a wealth advisor.

Financial advisory firm Harveston’s Annie Hor, who concurred with the minister, also added that Malaysians who buy homes before they are financially ready may not be aware of the total cost of home ownership.

“Maintaining a property can be a concern when the house starts to show signs of aging and you have no funds to fix them,” she told Malay Mail Online.