Wake-up call from worried, unprepared baby boomers
West Australians feel woefully unprepared for life after work and thousands of seniors believe they will have to keep working to pay the bills when they retire, a landmark report on the State’s retirees has found.
WA’s biggest survey on retirement has put a spotlight on a generation of retirees which wants to be healthy and able to travel during their golden years but is worried about whether their nest eggs will last the distance.
An astonishing 5500 West Australians took part in last month’s Retirees’ Voice survey, which WA Newspapers launched with WA Super in a bid to find out what was top-of-mind for the biggest, richest, best-educated and healthiest generation of retirees in history.
The 100-question survey, which was compiled and analysed by respected market research consultants CoreData, found the notion of being a self-funded retiree is a pipe dream for many, with two-thirds of pre-retirees expecting to rely on the age pension.
The amount that the State’s seniors expect they will need to have in their super at age 65 to maintain their desired lifestyle is far more than they have. Men expect to need $789,195, which is more than double what most males have in super, while women on average want $740,315 — more than five times the mean balance of $138,154 for females aged 60 to 64. It appears West Australians will fill the funding gap by keeping their jobs well into their golden years. More than 70 per cent of preretirees plan to keep working in some capacity after age of 65, with more than one in five expecting to work on a part-time basis for more than 20 hours a week. Retirees and would-be retirees want to spend life after work enjoying three key things: travelling (54.6 per cent), having free time (47.7 per cent) and spending time with family and friends (46.2 per cent). The survey found seniors felt out of their depth when planning their retirement. Fewer than one in 10 seniors feel very prepared for life after work and more than one in five pre-retirees are not prepared at all. More than a quarter admitted their investment knowledge is poor. This lack of confidence seems well placed, given more than two in five post-retirees say they would have done things differently in the lead-up to retirement if they had their time again — including retir- ing earlier or later, contributing more to super or seeking financial advice.
Respondents were equally confused about the aged-care system. While the overwhelming majority (70.4 per cent) want to grow old in their home rather than an agedcare facility, most don’t understand how health services in this area work.
Only a quarter rate their understanding of the various residential or home-care options and their costs as strong or very strong and nearly three quarters (73.9 per cent) believe that children should have at least some responsibility for caring for their parents in old age.
The West Australian’s editor, Brett McCarthy, said the number of respondents proved retirees wanted to be heard.
“We have always known that the retirement of the world’s baby boomers was going to be a demographic phenomenon with far-reaching implications,” he said.
“We didn’t realise that people about to leave work or who have already retired feel as unprepared as
For too long they have taken the long-term taxpaying retired for granted Adam Samulski
they do. This survey should be a wake-up call for business, government and even the media.”
Warwick father-of-two and grandfather-of-five Adam Samulski said he believed the only people who would be surprised by the size of the response to the survey would be the politicians.
“For too long they have taken the long-term taxpaying retired for granted,” he said.
“The constant tinkering with the rules for superannuation and pensions makes it very confusing and worrying for even the most prepared and organised.
“How is it possible to make longterm plans for a sustainable future under these changing circumstances?”
Seniors and Ageing Minister Mick Murray said the survey showed people needed to confront the realities of ageing much earlier than they were.
“Probably the clearest issue from the survey is a lack of deep engagement with some of the unfortunate realities of ageing,” he said.
“Whether financial stress, dementia, aged care needs — the message too often seems to be a case of ‘it won’t happen to me’.
“We can’t ignore the glaring difference between what kind of financial means people hope to have in their later years, and that which they will actually accumulate before retiring.
“The need for better financial management skills is clear.
“To get the most out of these years, and set ourselves up for a rewarding retirement, I encourage people who are approaching retirement to research their options and carefully plan. What’s clear is that too many don’t — and have regrets in neglecting that aspect.”
Adam and Jan Samulski at home in Warwick.