Just half of the Australian Population is Retirement Ready: Study Warns

December 1, 20168:12 am
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Just half of the Australian working population is retirement ready and the stats are even worse for women, warns Mercer in its latest study.

The new study by Mercer released at the 2016 Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Conference on the Gold Coast finds that just 41 percent of women and 53 percent of men in Australia are on track to achieving a comfortable retirement income, issuing a strong warning for members to take their superannuation more seriously.

Voluntary contributions can significantly boost future financial security, however only 16 percent of Australians do this regularly.

Analysing 18 funds nationwide, Mercer’s 2016 Retirement Readiness Index also reveals Baby Boomers are the least prepared generation in terms of superannuation, with the Millennials not doing so well either.

This is the first time Mercer’s Retirement Readiness Index has been used to conduct a study of this kind, comparing the retirement readiness of industry funds, corporate funds, and master trusts to the average of Australia’s working population.

Income level was a key determinant to members’ readiness, with 94 percent of taxpayers earning over $100,000 on track to financially secure retirement. However, the ASFA standard for what annual income equates to a ‘comfortable lifestyle’ is relatively low – $59,160 for a couple.

The most successful generation in terms of superannuation is Gen X, outperforming all other generations with higher incomes and higher levels of voluntary contributions. Mercer Senior Partner, David Knox said the study should act as a warning to both funds and members to act now in order to ensure the financial security of Australians in the future.

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“Using the Retirement Readiness Index, it can easily identify the least prepared, and help them be more active where it counts. The correct investment strategy choice is crucial to ensuring financial security in retirement. Members must also consolidate their accounts and be strongly encouraged to regularly make voluntary contributions,” said Dr Knox.

For example, a 35-year-old on a salary of $50,000 and an initial super balance of $30,000 who starts salary sacrificing $100 per month (2.4% of salary, or a coffee per day) will increase their expected retirement income from 98 percent to 103 percent of ASFA’s comfortable standard. This is an increase in projected age 65 balance from $248,129 to $290,558 (an increase of 17 percent).

It’s important that individuals and households pay attention to their superannuation as soon as possible with the benefits of compounding over a life time. However, it’s never too late to start. Older workers can still have a positive impact on their super annuation by making additional contributions, but by then it needs to be a larger portion of their income.

“Super funds play a critical role in recognising where retirement income gaps are occurring and encouraging underprepared members to actively take control of their financial future,” Dr Knox added.

“Funds must also consider what retirement income is most appropriate for each of their members. Will a high income couple really be happy living off just $59,160 per annum in retirement?”

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