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The Challenges of Retirement In Australia

Researchers found that the average Australian is planning to retire at the age of 65 and it is expected that over the period of the next 5 years there will be approximately 673,000 workers planning to retire. The income needed to cover living expenses for a couple is around approximately $70,000pa, while for a single person around $50,000pa. And for majority of retirees, Age Pension is either the main or a significant source of retirement income. As I explained in my last video, our government has been working on a superannuation system and explaining it to Australians over many, many years, that now superannuation has become a major source of our savings. For more details, please watch my last week’s video: “What can I do with my super in retirement?” If you watched that video, you might remember when I mentioned that now our government has established Retirement Income Review that is concentrating on the retirement phase of superannuation. And today I will continue the real issue we have in Australia, that is the challenges for the government and us all when it comes to planning our retirement with the view to ensure security of our income and prosperity over the years and also longevity of our savings that is becoming a real challenge for the government and for each person that retires.

My name is Katherine Isbrandt from About Retirement. I am Certified Financial Planner and your are watching About Retirement TV, the only channel that is fully designed to provide you with all the information you need to be well prepared for your upcoming retirement or to improve your retirement financially, if you are already there. Our government has recognised the need to work on the retirement or a pension part of superannuation system, as the number of people retiring is greater than the number of people entering new workforce. This by default will introduce a necessity to have a system where we personally use our savings, primarily from saved superannuation contributions for the purpose of providing income during our retirement, as the government can no longer support such a big number of retirees. And let’s be honest, some people who retire now, have accumulated quite a nest egg in their superannuation, hence they can become self sufficient or only partially supported by Age Pension, while the full Age Pension payments are limited to those that are below the Income and Assets means testing.

But there is another major problem, there are too many people retiring and needing advice, than the number of financial planners or advisers who can support them with professional advice. And now we are hitting a real dilemma that worries me a lot. The government is now forcing super funds’ trustees to provide a meaningful guidance to their superannuation fund’s members as to their retirement choices and how to set them up. The problem is that superannuation rules are very complex, and that complexity does not help. Super funds are just simply not equipped and they do not have staff that is knowledgeable enough to provide that meaningful advice. I can only see on daily basis when speaking with many new clients, what mistakes are being made by super fund staff, when providing advice in the area they have no knowledge or understanding, which exposes members to huge financial risk and risks with the regulator such as Tax office. Also much of the research has been done to understand the pattern of retirement in Australia, and there is not one pattern that will prove that a particular strategy or a specific course of action will work for most people when retiring.

Planning is one thing, but life is often different. The CoreData shows that in many cases it is a retrenchment, health issues or necessity to care for another person that are often the triggers for retirement decision, and very often it is much earlier retirement, which means less savings that maybe a person has been planning for. And this is just one of the examples, when a proper professional advice can assist a great deal. In Australia we generally have two types of superannuation funds: ATO regulated such as SMSF or Self Managed Superannuation Funds and APRA regulated, which are all other types of superannuation funds such as retail, corporate, or industry super funds. A research was done to see the difference between the behaviour of members of those two types of supers and the research found that only half of all APRA regulate fund members aged over 65 took advantage of the favourable rules within the superannuation system for their age. In comparison to 7 out or 8 members of SMSF. therefore we can safely say that majority of SMSF members take advantage of all financial, tax and superannuation benefits available to you.

So why there is such a vast difference? It is because the majority of SMSF member receive professional financial planning advice and more than 50% of APRA funds members don’t. Similarly, to the above, majority of SMSF members will utilise the benefits of Transition to Retirement strategy for example, available to qualifying members, while only a very small number of APRA regulated members take advantage of this strategy. If you do not know what I am talking about, or you would like a refresher on TTR, watch this video: “Can I access my super and continue working – TTR explained” You see, if you were working with a financial planner, your adviser would let you know when to start this strategy, would set it up for you and assist you to take advantage of all benefits out of this strategy, as there are different reasons why it might or may not be suitable for you.

Rules are identical, regardless of the fund you are in. It is a matter of understanding those rules and at what point they become beneficial for you. So as I mentioned before, advised clients will benefit from each strategy as they progress in life and in their superannuation savings cycle. Unadvised members of super funds must know that such a strategy is even available to them in the first place, not to mention, they would need to know how to go about setting it up correctly to their maximum advantage. So the financial outcomes between advised and un-advised clients is quite astonishing. And it is often not the market returns that bring the biggest benefit, but the appropriate strategy being applied, that can be completely different for each person. And if anyone is trying to explain to me that this is due to high cost, I would mostly disagree. I am not trying to say that financial planning advice in inexpensive, but it is the case of understanding the benefit that you can gain before you make a decision of affordability of such a service. So going back to my previous point, our government is trying desperately now to find the solution for the advisory system in Australia, forcing almost all super funds to take over the role and providing such services.

The strangest thing is that in general, super funds don’t want to do this, as such a service will require spendings to implement appropriate support, train their staff, and take on the legal responsibility of advice. The compliance regime is enormous, as I mention before in Australia superannuation system is relatively safe and reliable, however, superannuation in pension stage lacks variety of income and security of it as well as longevity. This is the reason, why my plans consist of mixture of different income streams, because there is not one product that can satisfy all the needs for retirement.

But even taking into consideration everything that I’ve just mention, did you know that Australia is in the top 10 countries when comparing the quality of life in retirement. As a matter of fact, Australia is number 7, behind Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Netherlands And we are ahead of Germany, Denmark and New Zealand, which are the other countries in top 10. But going back to the research, it is suggested based on the data that the complexity of the superannuation system has created a division between “haves”, so members that receive ongoing service and advice, and have-nots” those that have not received any advice, which are primarily members of APRA-regulated funds. I do hope you found this video of interest and a little bit of food for thoughts. If you believe that you are ready to receive a proper financial planning advice, just book a meeting with me through my website On each page of my website there is a button: BOOK A MEETING that will take you to my personal calendar, where you can choose the date and time that suits you and when we meet, we can discuss your investment and your retirement options.

While you are on my webiste, sign up to the NEWSLETTER to be kept updated with all the changes that can impact your retirement. And if you enjoyed this video, please give it THUMBS UP and SUBSCRIBE to my channel not to miss my next video. And now please continue watching those previously mentioned videos: “What can I do with my super in retirement?” and “Can I access my super and continue working – TTR explained” both videos are of great value and lots of important information to improve your financial planning knowledge. I will speak with you in my next video, bye for now.

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