The FWD Invest First Plus is an investment-linked policy (ILP), which allows you to invest your money and earn its generous bonuses throughout your policy term.
In this article, we provide a comprehensive review to help you determine if it’s the right ILP for you.
Stick around to find out more.
- Minimum investment period of 15 years
- Minimum investment amount of S$300 or U$230 per month
- Meet the following age criteria:
|Person insured||Policy owner|
|Minimum Entry Age||30 days old||18 years old|
|Maximum Entry Age||45 – 60 years old
(depends on the premium payment terms)
|70 years old|
Premium Payment Terms
The premium payment term can vary, with options ranging from 15 years to 30 years.
This means you’ll have to continue investing yearly until you’ve reached the end of your selected term.
So if you’ve selected a 30-year premium payment term, you’ll have to invest for all 30 years.
The following table shows the minimum investment amount for each premium term.
|Premium Frequency||Minimum Regular Payment (SGD)
15-19 years Premium
|Minimum Regular Payment (SGD)
20-30 years Premium
|Minimum Regular Payment (USD)
15-19 years Premium
|Minimum Regular Payment (USD)
20-30 years Premium
The policy will end if you miss paying your premiums within the first 24 months. However, you can always apply for reinstatement.
After 24 months, your policy continues but can lapse if the value drops below S$1. This is an interesting feature, which I will cover in more detail later in this post.
Regular premiums are 100% invested in the ILP sub-funds to help you reach your investment goals.
Like many ILPs, the FWD Invest First Plus has 2 accounts – Initial Units Account (IUA) and Accumulation Units Account (AUA).
In the first 24 months, your investments will go to the IUA and then to AUA thereafter.
You can make premium top-ups whenever you want if you’ve made all the regular premium payments.
The minimum amount to top up is S$3,000 or US$2,250 – which I’m not going to lie, is pretty high.
There’s also a cap to how much you can top up in total, which is currently 2x your annualised regular premiums.
Changing An Insured Person
You can change the person insured on your policy starting from the 25th month of coverage. The new person insured must be at least 1 month old and under 60 years old.
To change the person insured, you must have an insurable interest in the new individual.
Upon the insured’s demise, the policy pays a benefit equal to 105% of the policy value.
If more than one person is insured under the policy, this benefit will be paid upon the death of the last person insured.
It’s important to note that this benefit is only applicable in the event of the death of the person or persons insured under the policy.
In the case of FWD Invest First Plus, it provides coverage for up to 1 policy owner and 2 persons insured.
You will be eligible to receive the maturity benefit upon reaching the maturity date listed in your policy schedule.
The FWD Invest First Plus matures when you turn 99, or you can terminate it earlier after your premium payment term to collect the maturity benefit.
The maturity benefit is equal to the total value of your policy at the time of maturity.
The policy automatically pays the maturity benefit to your bank account.
The Booster Bonus will be paid out in the first 5 years of the policy as long as you continue to pay your regular premiums.
The amount of the Booster Bonus you receive is calculated using the booster bonus rate, which is determined based on your reward band and premium payment term.
Here’s a table illustrating the reward band you will be placed in according to your annualised regular premium amount, and the booster bonus rate.
Specifically, the Booster Bonus is equal to the booster bonus rate multiplied by the regular premium received.
Let’s assume you are paying an annualised regular premium of S$10,000, which puts you in reward band 1.
And if your premium payment term is 15 years, that grants you a Booster Bonus of 17% of your annualised regular premium (17% x SGD $10,000), getting you a bonus of $1,700!
Based on your chosen investment allocation, this booster bonus will then be distributed among the ILP sub-funds.
Remember that you will not receive the booster bonus if you miss any required regular premiums in the first 5 years of your policy.
However, the bonus will be credited if you make up for the missed payments later. Your equivalent annualised premium and booster bonus rate will be adjusted accordingly if you pay less than the required amount for any regular premium.
The booster bonus will not be awarded for any additional or top-up premiums you may pay on your policy.
A loyalty bonus will be paid annually, starting from the 6th policy year, for the duration of the policy.
Your amount of loyalty bonus will be determined using the following:
- During the premium payment term, and
- Beyond the premium payment term
Here is how the loyalty bonus will be calculated:
It is important to note that the adjustment factor used in this calculation must be a number between 0 and 1.
Once the premium payment term ends, the adjustment factor will no longer be used to calculate the Loyalty Bonus.
Instead, the policy continues to pay an annual Loyalty Bonus as long as it is still in effect.
The loyalty bonus will be distributed among the ILP sub-funds based on your chosen investment allocation and will be credited to your accumulation units account.
Additionally, if you make up for any missed regular premiums, you will be eligible to receive the loyalty bonus for those missed payments.
To illustrate, assuming you’re making $1,000 in monthly investments, made no withdrawals, and in your 5th policy year, the calculations are as follows:
Adjustment Factor = ($12,000 – 0) / $12,000 = 1
As you only start collecting units in your AUA after 24 months, you currently only have $36,000 in the account.
Thus, your Loyalty Bonus for the year is:
1 x 0.7% $36,000 = $252.
Now, this may not seem much, but other ILPs in the market offer nowhere close to this amount in Loyalty Bonus, and I believe this is the highest you’ll get in the market.
Dividend Cash Out Option
The FWD Invest First Plus allows you to cash out or reinvest the dividends you earned, similar to the Manulife InvestReady III.
This gives you the flexibility to withdraw from only your dividends to help supplement your income when needed.
Withdrawals are free-of-charge.
You have the option to auto rebalance your portfolios, get your financial advisors to do it for you, or do it yourself.
Unlimited Premium Holidays
Now, this is not an actual feature, but after reading through the product summary, we realised that you can take unlimited premium holidays after the first 2 years.
This means that after 2 years of investing, you can choose not to make any more contributions as long as there are funds in your account to pay for the FWD Invest First Plus fees.
The other ILP I know where you can take unlimited premium holidays is the Tokio Marine #goTreasures – after 3 years of paying.
Of course, you should choose to stop investing if you’re in some financial difficulties and then continue when you have the means, but it’s good to know that you have the flexibility to stop if you need to.
Take note that some agents might ask you to invest for only 2 years and then stop paying thereafter or even ask you to get another plan after 2 years – similar to how some agents sell the HSBC Life Pulsar.
So don’t be missold, and don’t make the mistake of taking the actual unlimited premium holidays – rather, use this as a temporary means in tough times.
Do note that your policy will lapse if there aren’t enough funds to pay the fees, so check your account constantly if you decide to take this up.
It is possible to withdraw a portion of the policy value while it is still in effect.
This table shows the withdrawal options available to you:
There are 2 types of withdrawal options available:
(1) Partial or one-off withdrawal, where you choose an amount to withdraw anytime.
(2) You can also withdraw after the premium payment term for regular withdrawals. It can be monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, or annually.
The minimum amount for withdrawal is S$500 per transaction. Subsequently, the Loyalty Bonus is adjusted depending on the amount you withdraw.
You also get to make these withdrawals for free!
Reduce Regular Premiums
After the 24th month, you may choose to reduce your regular investments as long as it meets the minimum investment amount and minimum reduction requirements, which may change at FWD’s discretion.
Increase Regular Premiums
After the 24th month, you can increase your regular investments should you have reduced them previously.
You can only increase your investment up to your initial regular investment.
Anything above the initial regular premium will be considered a premium top-up, which I covered earlier in this post.
FWD Invest First Plus’ Top 10 Performing Sub-Funds
The FWD Invest First Plus invests in unit trusts. More importantly, it invests directly into the fund instead of a company sub-fund.
|Fund name||5-Yr Ann. (%)|
|Threadneedle Lux Global Technology Fund SGD Acc||16.83|
|Threadneedle Lux Global Focus Fund EUR Dis||13.26|
|Fidelity Sustainable Global Healthcare Fund EUR Dis||12.01|
|Fundsmith Equity Fund EUR Acc||10.83|
|Threadneedle Lux Global Smaller Companies Fund EUR Acc||10.79|
|Infinity US 500 Stock Index Fund USD Acc||10.39|
|Infinity US 500 Stock Index Fund SGD Acc||10.31|
|Threadneedle Lux Global Focus Fund USD Acc||10.27|
|Natixis Loomis Sayles US Growth Equity Fund USD Acc||9.93|
|Fidelity Sustainable Global Healthcare Fund USD Acc||9.09|
Accurate as of February 2023
It is crucial to note that historical performance does not guarantee future returns. Furthermore, these are 5-year annualised returns. Always do your analysis or talk to a trusted financial advisor if you’re unsure.
Fees and Charges
Initial Account Charge
The initial account charge will be deducted from your account on each policy monthiversary.
The following table demonstrates the annualised percentage charges depending on the premium term of your policy.
|Premium Term Payment (Years)||A%|
However, this is where it gets interesting.
Every other ILP we have reviewed uses a percentage of your overall account value as its fees.
For FWD, the fees above are based on your annualised regular premiums, and the total fees you pay increase yearly.
Here’s the formula given:
A% / 12 x Annualised regular premium x N,
Where N is your current policy year.
So this means if you have chosen the 30-year premium payment term, your A% is 1%. Assuming you’re investing $1,000 monthly and in your first policy year,
1% / 12 x $12,000 x 1 = $10.
You incur $10 per month, $120 a year, or 1% in your first year.
If you’re in your second year;
1% / 12 x $12,000 x 2 = $20.
You incur $20 per month, $240 a year, or 2% in your second year.
At your 30th year;
1% / 12 x $12,000 x 30 = $300.
That’s $300/month, $3,600 a year, or 0.86% of your account value (based on our 20-year illustration later on)
This is weird and sounds crazy – but it’s interesting. Is it more or lesser fees than the others? We calculated and shared it with you later in this post.
The Policy Charge is a fee payable from the 25th policy month until the end of the policy term.
This means that the Policy Charge is only required to be paid for the remaining months of the policy, starting on the 25th policy month and continuing until the policy expires.
It is calculated as
1.2%/12 x annualised regular premium x N,
Where N is the policy year.
There is no banding for the Policy Charge, and it’s higher than the Initial Account Charge if you took the 30-year plan.
Similar to the Initial Account Charge, this is based on your regular premiums and will increase yearly. This also stacks on top of it.
Premium Top-up Charge
When you decide to make a top-up premium payment, a 5% charge will be applied as a premium charge.
Policy Closure Charge
Assuming that the policy value falls below S$1 or the equivalent value in the policy currency at any time, you must pay a policy closure charge of S$1 or the equivalent value in the policy currency to terminate your policy.
A surrender charge will be applied if you decide to cancel your policy before the end of the premium payment term.
This charge is calculated by multiplying the value of your policy’s units accounts by the surrender charge percentage in effect at the time of surrender.
Here’s the Surrender Charge table:
Policy Currency Charge (if any)
You can change the currency of your policy to one of the available currencies offered starting from the 6th policy year.
You will not be charged for changing your plan currency.
However, the fund manager reserves the right to change the charges and will inform you of any changes through written notice, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, via your financial advisor.
There are no charges for partial or regular withdrawals.
Fund Switching Charge
Currently, the policy does not charge any switching charge.
Fund Management Fee
When calculating the unit price of a fund, the fund management fee is considered.
It may seem as if there are many fees involved with the FWD Invest First Plus, but in actual fact, you only need to take note of the compulsory fees you might incur.
For this policy, here are the yearly fees you need to note:
- Initial Account Charge – 1% to 1.8% x annualised regular premium x N
- Policy Charge – 1.2% x annualised regular premium x N
Unlike other ILPs, we can’t give you an exact amount you would incur as compulsory fees.
As mentioned, the fees are based on your annualised regular premiums, which is not the same as a percentage of your account value.
How much will I make with the FWD Invest First Plus?
Unlike our usual calculations for ILPs, calculating how much you will make with the FWD Invest First Plus is a little more challenging.
We created an excel sheet to illustrate how much you earn if you invested $300 monthly for 20 years and let it compound for another 10 years with a 10% annualised interest rate.
We did 2 versions of this.
The first version would be to choose the 20-year premium payment term and let it compound for 10 years.
This means that the calculations are based on the A% of 1.4% as the Initial Account Charge is only payable during the premium payment term – 20 years.
The second version is to choose a 30-year premium payment term and taking a 10-year premium holiday for the last 10 years.
This is to reduce the A% you incur to 1% instead of 1.4%. However, the downside is that you will pay the 1% throughout all 30 years.
For both, the Policy Charge will kick in on year 3 until the end of 30 years, and calculations will not include bonuses.
Version 1: 20-Year Premium Payment Term
|Year||Opening Balance||Contributions||Fees||Interest Earned||Closing Balance|
|1||$ 3,600.00||$ –||$ 50.40||$ 360.00||$ 3,909.60|
|2||$ 3,909.60||$ 3,600.00||$ 100.80||$ 390.96||$ 7,799.76|
|3||$ 7,799.76||$ 3,600.00||$ 280.80||$ 779.98||$ 11,898.94|
|4||$ 11,898.94||$ 3,600.00||$ 374.40||$ 1,189.89||$ 16,314.43|
|5||$ 16,314.43||$ 3,600.00||$ 468.00||$ 1,631.44||$ 21,077.87|
|6||$ 21,077.87||$ 3,600.00||$ 561.60||$ 2,107.79||$ 26,224.06|
|7||$ 26,224.06||$ 3,600.00||$ 655.20||$ 2,622.41||$ 31,791.27|
|8||$ 31,791.27||$ 3,600.00||$ 748.80||$ 3,179.13||$ 37,821.59|
|9||$ 37,821.59||$ 3,600.00||$ 842.40||$ 3,782.16||$ 44,361.35|
|10||$ 44,361.35||$ 3,600.00||$ 936.00||$ 4,436.14||$ 51,461.49|
|11||$ 51,461.49||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,029.60||$ 5,146.15||$ 59,178.04|
|12||$ 59,178.04||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,123.20||$ 5,917.80||$ 67,572.64|
|13||$ 67,572.64||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,216.80||$ 6,757.26||$ 76,713.10|
|14||$ 76,713.10||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,310.40||$ 7,671.31||$ 86,674.01|
|15||$ 86,674.01||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,404.00||$ 8,667.40||$ 97,537.41|
|16||$ 97,537.41||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,497.60||$ 9,753.74||$ 109,393.56|
|17||$ 109,393.56||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,591.20||$ 10,939.36||$ 122,341.71|
|18||$ 122,341.71||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,684.80||$ 12,234.17||$ 136,491.08|
|19||$ 136,491.08||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,778.40||$ 13,649.11||$ 151,961.79|
|20||$ 151,961.79||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,872.00||$ 15,196.18||$ 168,885.97|
|21||$ 168,885.97||$ –||$ 907.20||$ 16,888.60||$ 184,867.37|
|22||$ 184,867.37||$ –||$ 950.40||$ 18,486.74||$ 202,403.70|
|23||$ 202,403.70||$ –||$ 993.60||$ 20,240.37||$ 221,650.47|
|24||$ 221,650.47||$ –||$ 1,036.80||$ 22,165.05||$ 242,778.72|
|25||$ 242,778.72||$ –||$ 1,080.00||$ 24,277.87||$ 265,976.59|
|26||$ 265,976.59||$ –||$ 1,123.20||$ 26,597.66||$ 291,451.05|
|27||$ 291,451.05||$ –||$ 1,166.40||$ 29,145.11||$ 319,429.76|
|28||$ 319,429.76||$ –||$ 1,209.60||$ 31,942.98||$ 350,163.13|
|29||$ 350,163.13||$ –||$ 1,252.80||$ 35,016.31||$ 383,926.65|
|30||$ 383,926.65||$ –||$ 1,296.00||$ 38,392.66||$ 421,023.31|
|Fees Paid||$ 30,542.40|
|Amount Invested||$ 72,000.00|
|Closing Balance||$ 421,023.31|
Version 2: 30-Year Premium Payment Term with 10 Years Premium Holiday
|Year||Opening Balance||Contributions||Fees||Interest Earned||Closing Balance|
|1||$ 3,600.00||$ –||$ 36.00||$ 360.00||$ 3,924.00|
|2||$ 3,924.00||$ 3,600.00||$ 72.00||$ 392.40||$ 7,844.40|
|3||$ 7,844.40||$ 3,600.00||$ 237.60||$ 784.44||$ 11,991.24|
|4||$ 11,991.24||$ 3,600.00||$ 316.80||$ 1,199.12||$ 16,473.56|
|5||$ 16,473.56||$ 3,600.00||$ 396.00||$ 1,647.36||$ 21,324.92|
|6||$ 21,324.92||$ 3,600.00||$ 475.20||$ 2,132.49||$ 26,582.21|
|7||$ 26,582.21||$ 3,600.00||$ 554.40||$ 2,658.22||$ 32,286.03|
|8||$ 32,286.03||$ 3,600.00||$ 633.60||$ 3,228.60||$ 38,481.04|
|9||$ 38,481.04||$ 3,600.00||$ 712.80||$ 3,848.10||$ 45,216.34|
|10||$ 45,216.34||$ 3,600.00||$ 792.00||$ 4,521.63||$ 52,545.97|
|11||$ 52,545.97||$ 3,600.00||$ 871.20||$ 5,254.60||$ 60,529.37|
|12||$ 60,529.37||$ 3,600.00||$ 950.40||$ 6,052.94||$ 69,231.91|
|13||$ 69,231.91||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,029.60||$ 6,923.19||$ 78,725.50|
|14||$ 78,725.50||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,108.80||$ 7,872.55||$ 89,089.25|
|15||$ 89,089.25||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,188.00||$ 8,908.93||$ 100,410.18|
|16||$ 100,410.18||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,267.20||$ 10,041.02||$ 112,783.99|
|17||$ 112,783.99||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,346.40||$ 11,278.40||$ 126,315.99|
|18||$ 126,315.99||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,425.60||$ 12,631.60||$ 141,121.99|
|19||$ 141,121.99||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,504.80||$ 14,112.20||$ 157,329.39|
|20||$ 157,329.39||$ 3,600.00||$ 1,584.00||$ 15,732.94||$ 175,078.33|
|21||$ 175,078.33||$ –||$ 1,663.20||$ 17,507.83||$ 190,922.96|
|22||$ 190,922.96||$ –||$ 1,742.40||$ 19,092.30||$ 208,272.86|
|23||$ 208,272.86||$ –||$ 1,821.60||$ 20,827.29||$ 227,278.55|
|24||$ 227,278.55||$ –||$ 1,900.80||$ 22,727.85||$ 248,105.60|
|25||$ 248,105.60||$ –||$ 1,980.00||$ 24,810.56||$ 270,936.16|
|26||$ 270,936.16||$ –||$ 2,059.20||$ 27,093.62||$ 295,970.58|
|27||$ 295,970.58||$ –||$ 2,138.40||$ 29,597.06||$ 323,429.23|
|28||$ 323,429.23||$ –||$ 2,217.60||$ 32,342.92||$ 353,554.56|
|29||$ 353,554.56||$ –||$ 2,296.80||$ 35,355.46||$ 386,613.21|
|30||$ 386,613.21||$ –||$ 2,376.00||$ 38,661.32||$ 422,898.53|
|Fees Paid||$ 36,698.40|
|Amount Invested||$ 72,000.00|
|Closing Balance||$ 422,898.53|
As you can see, Version 1 works better even though you’re incurring an A% of 1.4%. Your total account value will be $421,023.31 after 30 years, bringing about 542% of ROI.
For Version 2, you get $422,898.54 with an ROI of 536%. This gives a difference of $1,875.23.
However, you must remember that the bonus difference between the 20-year and 30-year premium payment terms is large.
The 20-year version will only get you a Booster Bonus of 20% for the first 5 years, while the 30-year version gives you a 27% of Booster Bonus for 5 years.
I’m 100% sure this will make a difference and might change the above results.
My Take On the FWD Invest First Plus
Based on the discussion, it is evident that FWD Invest First Plus is an attractive long-term investment option.
Unlike many other ILPs, the FWD Invest First Plus lets you choose exactly how many years you’d like to invest for, as long as it’s between 15 to 30 years.
So if you know you need to withdraw your investments 23 years later, no problem, opt for it!
Of course, the minimum investment period is 15 years – which is way too long in my opinion. But the unlimited premium holidays you have is its saving grace.
After the first 5 years, you’re free to go on a premium holiday as long as you want/need, as long as sufficient funds are in your account to pay its fees.
There is also the option to cash out your investments – which is a plus.
But one of the best things the FWD Invest First Plus has is to provide you with free withdrawals – which I have never seen before.
So if you need any cash, you may withdraw from your policy without incurring fees.
Speaking of fees, the FWD Invest First Plus is unique as it charges you fees based on your annualised premiums and not your account value.
So if your account is growing, you won’t have to worry about paying fees tied to the account value.
This has also proven to be effective in reducing overall fees as so far, the FWD Invest First Plus has brought the highest ROI amongst all ILPs we compared under the same conditions.
Of course, if your investments are dropping, you might be paying more in fees as it’s tied to your premiums.
Also, the FWD Invest First Plus has over 50 well-diversified funds that give you the opportunity to tap into tactical opportunities that arise from changing market conditions.
Ultimately, the best way to understand if FWD Invest First Plus is suitable for you is to talk to one of our MAS-licensed partners.