As I write this it is 19th September which, in the UK, is Pensions Awareness Day. It’s also International Red Panda Day. As a financial adviser, I have little to say about red pandas, apart from the fact that they look super cute and we should all do our best to help them out. I do, however, have quite a lot to say about retirement planning although I can summarise my advice into two simple rules:
Rule number one: do some.
Rule number two: do it NOW.
Sadly, according to research findings released today by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) in the UK, few people are abiding by these simple rules. Here are some of the shocking stats revealed in their press release which show that pension planning is not high on the list of priorities for millions of Brits, even when retirement is imminent:
- Three million over 50s are either going to leave their retirement planning to the final two years before they stop work or not do any at all
- 10% of over 50s won’t plan their retirement finances at all
- 69% of 50-70 year olds have done no retirement planning at all
- Just 7% of over 50s feel fully prepared for retirement
These numbers make me shudder!
I recognise that pension planning can be an extremely daunting task for many people but those burying their heads in the sand about retirement finances need to recognise that avoiding the issue will not make it go away and will make the task a whole lot harder if and when they do come to tackle it. And failing to do it altogether will almost certainly mean some difficult choices once they stop working – and I mean the ‘heating or eating’ type rather than the ‘holiday in the Bahamas or the West Indies’ type.
MaPS also asked current retirees to give their top tips on retirement saving to the next generation. It turns out that hindsight is a wonderful thing and they are spot on with their advice so here are the top five tips for retirement saving from retirees:
Save more towards retirement
With life expectancy rising, you could have to support yourself for three, or even four, decades if you stop working in your sixties. That’s a LONG time. If you’re in your twenties, 15% of your salary is a good figure to aim for to put towards your pension. The older you are, the higher this percentage will need to be to give you enough to live off once you stop working. Which is why you should….
Start planning retirement finances earlier
Carolyn Jones, Head of Pensions Policy and Strategy at the Money and Pensions Service, hit the nail on the head saying ‘Your pension is likely to be one of the most valuable assets you hold so it’s really important to start planning early to make sure you make the best choices based on your circumstances.’
Why is this so important? Because it is compound interest that makes pensions grow and compound interest needs time to be effective.
One thing is for sure – if you do nothing until two years before you retire, you will be in serious trouble. By then, your choices will be extremely limited. You need to think and plan ahead.
Take time to decide on how you will access retirement savings
Gone are the days of retirees having to buy an annuity. Now that pension freedoms have been introduced, an annuity is just one of a myriad of options available. While this is one thing you probably don’t need to worry too much about if you’re still in your twenties or thirties, you’ll need to consider it as you get into your late forties and beyond.
Find out more about making the most of your pension money
There are many retirement savings and investment opportunities these days and expats living abroad have a wide choice of pension wrappers. It makes sense to look carefully at the different options available to you and work out which suits your circumstances best.
Seek guidance on how best to organize your retirement finances
We are all now expected to make decisions about how we save, invest and access our retirement savings yet we receive scant formal education regarding financial matters. Faced with a plethora of confusing and often conflicting advice, it’s perhaps not surprising that many people simply don’t bother.
The easier and wiser option is to seek the guidance of a professional who has the knowledge, training and experience to guide you through the process. A good financial adviser really is worth their weight in gold.
If you’re concerned about any aspects of your retirement planning, why not get in touch for an assessment. Whatever stage of life you are at, NOW is the time to prepare your pension.
I started in the financial services industry back in 1995 and I am now the Country Director of Infinity Financial Solutions (Cambodia) Limited, specializing in corporate and individual medical and general insurance needs along with expatriate financial planning.