One of the easiest ways to keep your excess savings is to leave it in your bank savings account. But that may not give you enough returns to beat inflation in the long run, especially since some savings accounts may only give 0.05% interest per annum (pa).
On the other hand, savings accounts with higher interest rates, such as multiplier savings accounts, may not only give you less interest as you save more, but they may also make you jump through more hoops to get higher interest rates.
One option to get a higher return on your excess money is to invest in Singapore government-issued treasury bills. These debt securities allow you to earn a higher return depending on the current market environment.
Here’s what you need to know about treasury bills (T-bills) and how you can buy them in Singapore.
Also Read: Best Savings Accounts in Singapore – If You Don’t Want to Keep Jumping Through Hoops
Treasury Bills (T-Bills) are one of the four types of Singapore Government Securities (SGS)
Debt securities issued by the Singapore government are collectively known as Singapore Government Securities (SGS). These SGSs are considered safe investments as they are fully backed by the Singapore government, which has the highest credit rating granted by international credit rating agencies, meaning lower risk of default.
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There are four types of SGS: Treasury Bills (T-bills), SGS Bonds, Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB) and Cash Management Treasury Bills (CMTB).
Treasury bills (T-bills) are short term bills which are offered either in a period of 6 months or 1 year. They are also called “zero coupon bonds” because they pay no interest during the life of the bond. Instead, they are sold at a discount to face valuewhich the investor will recover at its full value at maturity.
For example, if you successfully applied for $1,000 of one-year treasury bills at 2% interest per annum, you would only have to pay around $980. When the bond matures, you will receive the full lump sum of $1,000, which includes interest of $20.
Read also : [2022 Edition] Complete Guide to Buying Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB)
Treasury Bills (T-Bills) are issued to develop Singapore’s debt markets
Treasury bills and SGS (Market Development) bonds are issued by the government primarily to develop local debt markets. The issuance of these bonds responds to three main reasons.
The first is to create a liquid SGS market to provide a robust government yield curve as a benchmark for pricing private debt securities.
Second, it is about fostering the growth of an active secondary market for cash transactions and derivatives to enable effective risk management.
And the third reason is to bring domestic and foreign issuers and investors to participate in the Singapore bond market.
Characteristics of treasury bills
Treasury Bills (T-Bills) have their own unique characteristics, and here’s what you need to know.
Treasury bills can be purchased by institutions and individuals, including non-residents, over the age of 18.
The minimum investment amount in treasury bills is $1,000, with subsequent increases of $1,000. There is no maximum amount an individual can hold, but there are limits – up to $1 million in non-competitive bids – for each auction.
Treasury bills are sold using a uniform price auction method, which requires settlement within T+3 days.
Treasury bills and SGS bonds are sold using a uniform price auction method
Unlike the Singapore Savings Bond (SSB), which is based on a “cap quantity” format, SGS and T-bills are issued through a uniform price auction. The offers or applications selected will be distributed on a uniform basis, which is the highest yield accepted (or limit yield) competitive bids selected for auction.
When applying for treasury bills or SGS bonds, investors will have to choose between making a competitive or non-competitive offer.
Competitive offer vs non-competitive offer
A tender is the one that requires you to specify the price (to be expressed in terms of a percentage yield, up to two decimal places) that you are willing to pay for the SGS bonds or treasury bills. A lower yield represents a more competitive offer.
A non-competitive offer is one in which you do not need to specify a price and instead will be awarded SGS bonds or treasury bills at a uniform yield based on the results of competitive tenders. It might be a better choice for retail investors, who might not know enough to make a competitive offer.
Additionally, all non-competitive bids will be satisfied first, before the balance is then awarded to those who submitted competitive bids. You are more likely to get your award with a non-competitive bid.
Also Read: How Is The Interest Rate Derived For Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB) And Why Is It Rising?
Historical rates for 6-month and 1-year Treasury bills
Here’s a look at historic rates for 6-month treasury bills from September 2019 to September 2022. Short-term interest rates started to rise in 2022 when the U.S. Federal Reserve started raising rates of interest.
Here is an overview of historical rates for 1-year Treasury bills from September 2019 to September 2022. 1-year rates follow a similar path to 6-month interest rates.
The next issue of Treasury bonds will take place on:
ISIN code: SGXZ27657782
announcement date: October 19, 2022
Auction date: October 27, 2022
Date of issue: November 1, 2022
Tenor: 6 months
ISIN code: SGXZ52032836
announcement date: November 3, 2022
Auction date: November 10, 2022
Date of issue: November 15, 2022
Tenor: 6 months
Should you invest in treasury bonds?
Since individual investors can buy different types of bonds, here are some things to consider if you want to add treasuries to your portfolio.
Treasury bills are a safe short-term investment option that can be used for diversification of your investment portfolio. It allows you to receive a fixed interest payment At maturity.
However, investments in treasury bills or bonds can generally do not generate sufficient returns beat long-term inflation. Therefore, treasury bills should be considered together with your other assets rather than being the only investment choice.
Moreover, since interest rates are determined on the basis of a uniform price auction, there is no certainty about the interest rate that you will receive when applying for Treasury bonds. In the worst case, you may have to accept treasury bills bearing negative interest.
Finally, sell treasury bills before maturity can lead to losses because bond prices can fluctuate depending on the market interest rate environment.
Also read: 6 investments in Singapore that offer guaranteed capital and returns
How to Buy Treasury Bonds in Singapore
6-month treasury bills are issued every two weeks, while 1-year treasury bills are issued every three months. Check Calendar of auctions and issues for more details on the latest treasury bill issues.
You can buy the treasury bills in cash, in funds from the Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) or in funds from the CPFIS investment scheme. Here is the process using the three methods.
To buy treasury bills in cash, you need a bank account with one of the three local banks (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB). You will also need an Individual Central Deposit Account (CDP) with direct credit services enabled. This allows your coupon and principal payments to be credited directly to your bank account.
Once prepared, you can apply for the treasury bills through ATMs and online banking portals of local banks.
If successful, the transaction will be reflected on your CDP statement.
Also Read: Step by Step Guide to Open a CDP Account in Singapore
To buy T-bills using SRS, you need an SRS account with one of the three SRS operators (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB). After that, you can apply for T-bills through your SRS operator’s online banking portal.
If successful, the transaction would be reflected in statements issued by your SRS operator.
Also read: Step-by-step guide to opening your Supplementary Pension Plan (SRS) account
To buy treasury bills using CPFIS-OA investments, you would need a CPF investment account with one of the three CPFIS agent banks (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB). Unlike the options above, you will need to submit an application in person at any branch of the CPFIS bond brokers (DBS/POSB, OCBC and UOB) when purchasing using your CPFIS-OA account.
If successful, the transaction will be reflected on your CPFIS statement sent by your banking agent.
Also Read: 7 Types of Investments You Can Make Using Your CPF OA Funds Through CPFIS-OA
How to sell treasury bills in Singapore
If you need to sell your treasury bills before the maturity date, you can do so at any of the three local banks by visiting their main branches.
However, note that depending on market conditions, the price of SGS treasury bills may be higher or lower than what you paid.
Read also: 4 investments that naturally protect against inflation in Singapore
This article was first published on September 21, 2022 and has been updated with the latest information on treasury bills (T-bills).
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