Retirement ‘perfect storm’ looms for unprepared world – HSBC

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RetirementHSBC Insurance revealed after a global survey, that a ‘perfect storm’ of demographic, individual and financial elements is poised to derail people’s retirement plans unless they prepare properly now.

The fifth annual Future of Retirement study, It’s Time to Prepare, shows:

· people’s short-term survival strategies in the midst of recession are creating a serious long-term pensions ‘downturn deficit’ · there is a continuing lack of pensions planning, even though people are aware that they are likely to live longer · this is being exacerbated by poor levels of financial understanding, education and access to advice · people are more concerned with protecting their possessions in the short-term than ensuring they can look forward to a financially secure retirement.The consequence of these combined factors is that many people will struggle to make ends meet when they come to retire, unless they urgently review their priorities and planning.

Stephen Green, Group Chairman of HSBC, said, “A perfect storm is confronting pensions planning, created by an ageing population, falling pension funds values, a drop in state and employer contributions and an economic downturn which is forcing people to make tough financial choices.”

It’s Time to Prepare has identified a ‘preparedness gap’ in people’s pensions planning across the world with nearly 9 out of 10 people not feeling fully prepared for their retirement. The Future of Retirement survey, which questioned 15,000 people in 15 countries, making it the largest study of its kind in the world, reveals:

· Only 13% of respondents feel fully prepared for their retirement · 86% do not know what income they will receive in retirement · Only a quarter (27%) feel they fully understand their long-term finances · Approaching half (43%) have undertaken some planning for later life, but still remain unclear about what their retirement income will look like · 14% have done no retirement planning at all.

Stephen Green continued, “The ‘preparedness gap’ reveals that families need greater support and guidance to effectively handle their finances, not simply in schools and colleges but through ‘trusted advisers’ providing professional financial guidance.

If people prepare adequately for the long-term an extended later life can present a golden opportunity for many – but now is the time for people to seriously consider boosting their pension’s contributions to improve their prospects of a comfortable retirement. The cost of procrastination is likely to be high.”

It’s Time to Prepare also reveals a parallel ‘advice gap’ linking a lack of preparedness to insufficient financial education and guidance: ·

43% of respondents have never had any form of financial education · And 29% also feel ‘fairly’ unprepared for their retirement

· Almost half (47%) have never had any form of professional financial advice

Clive Bannister, Group Managing Director, HSBC Insurance, said, “This year’s Future of Retirement report reveals a need for people to have access to more and better financial advice and guidance to help them survive the downturn while making the right financial decisions for the long-term.”

People are paying little attention to long-term considerations such as their likely retirement needs, focusing instead on purely practical short-term concerns which they better understand, It’s Time to Prepare reveals.

General insurance solutions – motor, travel, home and even pet insurance – are seen as a greater priority than addressing longer-term needs around insuring health or income, even when job security is in question.

Despite global economic uncertainty, only 6% intend to take out income protection insurance in the next 12 months compared to 16% insuring their home.

The Future of Retirement survey shows that, as a result of the economic downturn:

· 92% of people have changed some element of their finances · Only 19% will now retire as planned · 17% are reducing retirement savings or stopping saving for retirement altogether · 18% have used savings to pay off debt · 9% expect to delay their retirement

Alan Richards, CEO HSBC in Malta said, “With an ageing population, increasing life expectancy and declining fertility rates, retirement planning is becoming a major issue in Malta as in the rest of the World.”

Globally the survey also reveals that people want governments to help them help themselves through enforced savings. Some might see compulsory savings as another form of taxation but the difference is that they are controlled by individuals.

The HSBC Future of Retirement survey also shows people’s ever changing attitudes to retirement lifestyles, taking in consideration their increased ability to work and overall improved health prospects.

For example the vast majority of Maltese people over 60 years old describe themselves as being in fair, good or very good health and over 60% want to travel in their retirement days! – so planning for it is necessary whatever your retirement objectives.

Alan Richards also emphasised that the global nature of the survey enabled HSBC in Malta to put the local issues into context and helped the organisation better understand the needs of its clients and the challenges they face in preparing for later life.

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