When you retire, your employment income stops, but not your expenses. You still got to pay for your food, your transport and your health care. If you are not lucky enough, you may still have an outstanding mortgage loan to pay.

Do you have retirement plans which generate guaranteed passive income to pay off these expenses?

The best way to approach retirement planning is to stack up your “Income Sandwich”. It means to prepare multiple layers of passive income streams after your retirement. To achieve this, you need to accumulate Income Generating Assets (IGAs) in your working life.

Building IGAs is not as hard as it sounds. In my latest book “F.I.R.E. Your Retirement: 3 Simple Steps to Financial Independence and Retire Early“, I have laid out the step-by-step guide to building an IGA portfolio for your own retirement.

Most Singaporeans already have an IGA, which is your CPF life. CPF Life is a government scheme which converts your CPF Retirement Sum into a monthly income. But an average Singaporean’s monthly CPF payout is only $948. Is that sufficient for you?

One of the best ways to supplement your CPF savings is through a guaranteed income retirement plan issued by an insurance company. Many people overlook the beauty of this because when they think about insurance, they only think about death benefit.

Today, I am going to show you 3 best retirement plans and how they can help you achieve your retirement goals.

What is a retirement plan

A retirement plan is a savings and investment plan that provides income during retirement.

It is created by insurance companies with a defined benefit. For example, an insurance company can say that if you pay them “x” amount of dollars from now till you are age 55, they are going to give you a guaranteed monthly income of “y” dollars from your age 60 to 80 years old.

In addition, the insurer will pay you additional bonuses for the investment returns during these years. These bonuses are often referred to as Reversionary Bonus or Terminal Bonus.

Not all so-called retirement plans are created equal. A good retirement plan must have the following 3Gs:

  • Guaranteed Capital – your total guaranteed return must be more than your total premium paid
  • Guaranteed Income – the insurer must guarantee the retirement income for the entire payout period even in the worst economy
  • Guaranteed Acceptance – the insurer should accept your application without loading or other conditions.

The same 3G principle can be used to assess other short term endowment plans like China Life’s SaveReward plan.

Why retirement plans are powerful retirement planning tools

What is the biggest challenge for retirement? It is to have guaranteed income. You can generate income from different sources, but there is no better financial product that can guarantee your retirement income like insurance plans.

Why? Because retirement plan is a disciplined process that will compound your small savings into big returns.


I recently talked about how you can use SMART goal setting system to achieve your financial freedom and early retirement. To recap, a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound.

If you think about it, an insurance retirement plan has all the 5 elements required to achieve your retirement goals.

  • Specific – A retirement plan specifies exactly how much you can get back and you will know whether you are on target.
  • Measurable – Unlike regular investment plans, the percentage of your return is guaranteed and you can calculate it from day one.
  • Actionable – You can start your retirement plan right now, even if you have health conditions.
  • Realistic – You know exactly how much premium you need to commit and you don’t need a big lump sum to start with.
  • Time-bound – Your premium period and payout period are both pre-defined in a retirement plan.

You may say that you don’t like your money to be locked in. But for a long term project like retirement planning, you really need to adopt a simple and systematic approach.

Currently, there are 3 good retirement plans in Singapore market:

  • AXA RetireHappy
  • Aviva MyRetirement Plus
  • Manulife RetireReady

All the 3 plans I am going to talk about have the shared commonalities:


  • Your payout is clearly defined with guaranteed retirement income
  • Your commitment is clear with guaranteed and level premium throughout the payment term


  • You are offered options of premium and payment term so you can tailor the product to your unique circumstance
  • You can choose when to start receiving your monthly payout
  • You can change your mind later upon reaching your retirement age:
    • Leave the funds with the insurer to accumulate more returns
    • Choose to withdraw in a lump sum
    • Do a partial withdrawal and leave the remaining to continue accumulating.


Because the guaranteed income is for your retirement in many years to come. You have to ensure that the insurers having the ability to keep their promise.

As a start, these insurers have one of the highest credit ratings in the world. But even if any of them fail, your policy value is protected under the Policy Owner Protection scheme up to $100,000.

The unique features of these 3 retirement plans

So which retirement plan should you choose? Here are the major differences between them.

AXA RetireHappy

AXA RetireHappy is the first inflation-adjusted retirement plan income plan. It means your retirement income will grow at a rate of 3.5% each year to combat inflation.

Comparatively,  the plan offers the highest Guaranteed Maturity Yield for most scenarios and you can use both cash and Supplementary Retirement Account (SRS) to purchase.

How the inflation-adjusted income of AXA’s RetireHappy looks like

One thing you need to take note is that such a plan pays a very high longevity benefit. In the above example, more than $400,000 will be paid when you are age 80.

This can be good or bad. If you want to ensure sufficient savings beyond the maturity date, this is good money. But if your intention is to enjoy the earlier years of your retirement, you probably have to move your maturity date earlier.

Fortunately, this plan also offers the most flexibilities to suit an individual’s needs. There are total 120 ways of setting up AXA’s RetireHappy plan. But this could also cause information overload. That’s why a proper planning with a retirement planner is important before you embark on any of these plans.


Aviva MyRetirement Plus

Aviva has always been a very innovative insurer. They are still the only insurer who adopts moratorium underwriting for Integrated Shield Plan.

Aviva brought in the concept of retirement plans for Singaporeans 5 years ago and named it MyRetirement. Fast forward now, they have revamped the plan and launch Aviva MyRetirement Plus. Similar to AXA’s Retirement Happy, this plan also adjusts the retirement income up by 3.5% each year.

An illustration of how Aviva MyRetirement Plus can work for you

The unique part of this plan is that you have the flexibility to withdraw your accumulated reversionary bonuses as you desire so that you don’t have to wait until policy maturity to enjoy these investment returns.

Aviva MyRetirement Plus also offers very high Guaranteed Yield. The only problem I face with this retirement plan is that there is only one payout option of 20 years. This could be the hurdle to fit it into some people’s retirement portfolio.

Manulife RetireReady

As you can see from above, both plans from AXA and Aviva have a maturity or longevity benefit. What if you want to be more comfortable in your retirement? What if you prefer to receive your payout earlier?

Manulife’s RetireReady plan is a good alternative or supplement to Aviva and AXA’s plans. It can also be funded via cash or Supplementary Retirement Account (SRS)

From the illustration below, you can see that Manulife RetireReady’s payout has 3 layers:

  1. Guaranteed Monthly Income
  2. Additional Monthly Income – converted from bonuses before retirement
  3. Cash Bonus – projected bonuses after retirement


You also have other income options at your retirement age:


If there is one thing that can set back your retirement for 10 years, that is long-term care. While you have spent so much effort to build your retirement income, you don’t want your retirement savings to be eroded by hefty costs from severe disability.

The unique feature of Manulife ReadyReady is that it doubles your monthly income if you suffer a loss of independence during your income payout period. The plan will also waive your premium if Total and Permanent Disability occurs during your premium payment period.

Loss of Independence means that you are not able to perform at least 3 of the 6 activities of daily living:

  1. Washing
  2. Dressing
  3. Transferring
  4. Mobility
  5. Toileting
  6. Feeding.

This is the same as the severe disability definition of Eldershield. So if you have not upgraded to Eldershield Supplement plans, it will help protect your retirement income.

To summarise all…

A retirement plan is an essential Income Generating Asset for retirement income. Together with CPF Life, it provides a guaranteed foundation of your retirement income stream.

With different premium payment and payout periods, each of the 3 products, AXA RetireHappy, AXA MyRetirement Plus and Manulife RetireReady will generate different outcomes. To make things simpler for you, you can contact me via the form below for a non-obligatory meeting to compare the returns of these plans based on your parameters.

If you haven’t upgrade your Eldershield, you should do so to prevent loss of retirement income due to long-term care cost.

Retirement planning can be simple but not easy. If you have any question about retirement plans, simply comment below and I will be glad to answer them all.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • Dear Ivan,

    I am age 62 and would like to invest some money so that I can get better returns or an annuity pay out when I reach 72. What are the investment available or insurance plans for me. FD is too low to invest in.

  • Hi Ivan

    Would like to liquidate investment-linked insurance policies with whole life and critical illness coverage and buy retirement policies instead. Would you be able to compare & advise with reference to all our existing plans? Are you engaged by any single insurance company?

    • Hi, Stephanie

      I can help analyse your existing plans, compare and advise other insurance products.

      I am a licensed independent financial adviser and we do not belong to any insurance company.

  • Hi Ivan, I’m an American citizen who is interested in buying an annuity from a Singapore company. Do they sell to Americans & what companies/plan do you recommend? Many thanks!

    • Hi Linda, there are certain type of insurance which you can buy in Singapore. Please contact me via the contact menu so I can help you analyse which product is suitable for you.

  • Ivan


    With regards to the subject of retirement, I would like to enquire on the subject of retirement.

    This year, I am aged 45 and I intend to retire at the age of 65.

    As I have other financial commitments, hence for the time being, I am only able to fork out an additional amount of $200 plus on a monthly basis to start accumulating my retirement funds.

    So is there any retirement or annuity plan that I can purchase with this amount?

    Please kindly advise.


    Best Regards


    • Dear Chia,

      I suggest you set your retirement goal first.

      Assuming a retirement plan gives you 3.5% annual return, with $200 premium, you will get around $68,000 in 20 years time (when you are age 65).

      This amount of fund, if you were to continue to invest with 3.5% return, can give you around $400 per month retirement income for 20 years.

      Is this what you are ok with? If so, then you can zoom into the choice of plans.

      If not, you need to re-evaluate your budget for the the insurance or consider other investment options which can give you potential higher returns.

  • Dear Ivan,

    Age: 45, Retirement age: 62
    My target retirement income: min $1000 monthly, capital guaranteed.
    Premium payment period: 10 years.

    Can you please recommend which retirement plan is suitable.

  • Hi Ivan,

    How come NTUC Revoretire plan is not comparable with this list you mentioned ? Are there major shortfalls in it compared to your list ? Thanks

  • What do u think abt prulifetime income? Can buy for retirement? How does assign of policu works? Am i still the life assured after i assign?

    • Hi, Tim

      Different retirement products work on different parameters such as retirement age, payout period, the payout amount, etc. You need to compare different plans in order to get the most suitable product for yourself. You can submit a request using the form in this post for more information.

      If you assign a policy, you are still the insured, but the owner is the assignee. Why do you want to assign?

  • I am 25 this year, going to start work at 26 after graduation. Not sure if you could give me any advice. I just started reading many things on retirement plans, savings account, cpf, etc. To be honest I want to retire by 50. If not 55. I got many questions, some questions like what should I do once I start working? The money I save from my income in the future, where should i put it in? retirement plans(like this 3)? insurance? savings plans? actually i am pretty new with all this. Thank you if you could help me a little.

    • Hi, Christine

      At age 58, it will be more suitable for you to purchase an annuity plan which pays you perpetual income. It also depends on what other plans you have now and when you want to start receiving the retirement payout.

  • Hi Ivan

    Thanks for the article. Would like to know – will say $100K (in excess of Retirement Sum) do better in CPF OA or in a good retirement plan?

  • Dear Ivan,

    What is your view on Prime Life Rewards 5 from GE? I am 54 and planning to retire at 62 years old.
    Thank you for your advice.


    • Hi, Samuel

      You should choose the plan based on the projected return indicated in the benefit illustration (BI) because the number never lies. If you can send me the BI, I can give you some comments.

    • Hi Cheng Hui, AXA Pulsar is an investment linked policy, not comparable to the retirement plans mentioned here. If you need further advice, please contact me via the online form above.

  • Hello Ivan,
    I saw that 2 out of 3 plans use examples of person > 40 y.o. Just wonder if these plans are applicable for my case 35 y.o.

    I was recently introduced to Manulife SmartRetire sold via DBS. But I could only find some information on DBS website but not Manulife (only Retireready is available here). Do you know of this SmartRetire product? Thanks.

    • Hi, Frank

      SmartRetire is an investment-linked policy (ILP), not a retirement plan. There are retirement plans catered for the age group of 30s, you can contact me using the online form above for more information.

  • Hi Ivan

    I am new to investment, I am afraid but i also subconsciously know i need to invest, i wanted to invest through bank but i do not have any knowledge in this area and courage to do so, so i decided to just go for insurance company for now. I am 28 now, how much do i need to fork out monthly if I wish to retire between 50 to 60?

    • Hi, Feng

      How much you need to fork out depends on how much you want to withdraw after your desired retirement age, you can submit a retirement discovery meeting request using the form in this post and I will get back to you.

      • I have no idea nor do i know if there is a way to calculate future inflation or how to estimate how much the inflation will be, but is it reasonable to say if i want to withdraw the same value currently of about 1.5k per month at least at the age of 50?

  • You are suggesting buying the plan with SRS. I am 62 now, what is the implication, I thought SRS funds have to be rewithdrawn within 10 yrs of reaching 65.

    What happens if you buy retirement plan with srs funds?

    • Hi, Lynn,

      If you use SRS to purchase a retirement plan, the proceeds will be returned to your SRS account.

      Since you are already at age 62, you need to do a proper planning for the retirement income drawdown, it is not so straightforward.

  • Hi Ivan,

    I’m turning 54 this year, is it too late to purchase a retirement insurance plan? What is the amount I need to pay if I start at this age and what kind of plan would you suggest?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi, Zue

      It is still possible to structure a retirement plan, but you need a reasonable capital to make the return more meaningful. how much retirement income are you looking at?

  • What is the pro and con of using cash VS SRS to pay for the premiums?
    It would seem to me SRS would be a better option as cash goes into SRS and SRS helps to offset tax.
    Did I missed anything out?

    • Hi, David

      Under the current framework, only single premium retirement plan is available in SRS account. It makes sense to use SRS to purchase a retirement plan if you have already accumulated a substantial amount.

      For regular premium plan, you still have to use cash.

    • Hi Alice, it is not necessary to have multiple retirement plans at the same time. You should choose the plan which gives you the best return at the time of purchase.

      However, you can consider to add new plans along the way if there are more innovative or better products.

  • Great summary on the 3 retirement plans, thanks! Please advise what will happen to the capital and bonuses if;
    1. The policy holder dies before the start of retirement age
    2. The policy holder dies after receiving 10 years of the monthly payout during retirement
    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi, Eileen

      The insurers generally share similar principles.

      1. If the policyholder dies before the start of retirement age, the insurer will pay 101% or 105% (depending on the policy) of the premium paid + accrued bonuses.

      2. If the policyholder dies during the payout period, the insurer will pay the sum mentioned above – what is already paid to the policyholder.

      Of course, each insurer has slightly different terms, which are clearly stated in their policy contracts.

  • Dear Ivan,
    Really insightful sharing

    Would need your recommendation on retirement plan . Currently looking at Aviva Myretirement plus and TM Retirement GIO

    Age: 40, expected Retirement age: 60,
    target retirement monthly income: $1500 monthly, receive guaranteed income for 25 yrs
    Premium payment period: 10 to 15 years.


  • Ivan
    Avia myretirement plus work on kids ?
    Intend to buy 1 for new born kid and thereafter receiving monthly income as his monthly allowance and school fee at manuturity

  • Hello Ivan,

    What do you think of maximising CPF life for retirement, ie to save 249k by 55 years old in the RA? How is it comparable to the products on the market and what are the caveats to committing this sum in cpf, other than the inflexibility that withdrawal can only be made at 65.

    Thank you!

    • Hi, Hannah

      Maximising CPF life is one good strategy for your retirement planning. The return is competitive compared to other options in the market now. However, how much you contribute to CPF should depend on your other stream of retirement income. It is always good to have a diversified source of income than betting everything in CPF.

      As you are aware that CPF is inflexible and the withdrawal can only be made at 65 (for now). You should have at least half of your retirement funds in other sources.

      • Hi Ivan,
        I think in Hannah’s scenario, one can withdraw any amount above FRS amount at 55 and not at 65. i.e. after transferring some OA and SA to RA, can have the option to withdraw the leftover OA and SA.

  • Hi Ivan

    I am 34 this year, going to start contributing max 15300 yearly to SRS and only want to use this 15300 SRS (I.e. not cash) for such retirement plan, and plan to receive the payout from 55 years old onwards? Which one will u recommend ?

  • Hi Ivan,
    I have bought an investment-linked policy 15 years ago and was told recently that the final returns in the policy will be eroded and become negative as i aged. Please share recommendations. Policy covers whole life and critical illnesses. Buying/Transferring of policy would be expensive as it is calculated based on my current age, 48.

    Thanks and regards.

  • Dear Ivan,

    Thanks for sharing your analysis with us, I learned a lot reading your blog.
    Could you shortlist/compare a few good products based on parameter below?
    Age: 40, Retirement age: 55, target retirement income: min $500 monthly, capital guaranteed.
    Premium payment period: 10 years.


  • Hi Ivan

    Would you advise:

    1) Selling my present HDB 4-room flat (which I am getting $2500 rental income from presently) at say 450K and right-size down to a HDB 2-rooms for 250K, then
    2) ‘Invest’ 100-150K sales proceeds into ManuLife’s ReadyReady, or
    3) Hold on to my present flat and pay 1K/monthly premium?

    I set a NPO last year so income comes from (i) budgeted salary in grant applications for my social programs tied to achieved KPIs and (ii) room rentals

    I’m 59 this year and exploring applying for HDB’s present BTO launch which closes this Wednesday 24 May 2017.

    • Hi, Lionel

      In this case, we need to look at your other income generating resources and do a holistic planning.

      Whether you want to downgrade your HDB is both an emotional and financial choice, it could be a smart move if it increases your retirement income and enhances your retirement lifestyle.

    • Hi, Pearl

      The return is based on the parameters of your retirement plan, like your current age, retirement age, premium payment period and income payout period, etc. Each combination will perform differently.

  • Dear Ivan,

    Thank you for your sharing. I was just wondering, what are your thoughts about Pruweath as a retirement plan as compared to the three plans you mentioned?

    Thank you very much.


    • Dear Beth

      Pruwealth is an interesting plan. The concept is good, but you have to work out the sum. If you have a specific projection of Pruwealth, I have help you compare the returns.

  • Hi Ivan

    Thanks for sharing this article.

    Would you recommend AIA Platinum Pro Secure as a retirement plan?
    Will this product going to yield higher return compared to the 3 products you mentioned, as I think AIA’s one is a Investment Linked Insurance plan and it has a TPD component

    Thank you in adv.

    • Dear Mei Xiu

      AIA Platinum Pro Secure is an investment-linked policy so the return is not guaranteed. The products mentioned in this article all have guaranteed returns. So they are not comparable.

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