Wake-up call from wor­ried, un­pre­pared baby boomers

North West Telegraph - - Re­tirees’ Voice - Ben Har­vey

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.”

Pic­ture: Danella Be­vis

Adam and Jan Sa­mul­ski at home in War­wick.

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