Many ill-prepared for retirement

by 18 Sep 2007

MATURE AGE workers must plan effectively for their retirement, as a recent Citibank study found that two-thirds of workers aged over 55 felt they were no longer capable of working past the age of 69, while a further 20 per cent considered 60–64 years of age to be too old to keep working.

Most Australians don’t adequately prepare their financial wellbeing to a level where they could realistically retire and maintain their current lifestyle in retirement, according to Andrew de Vries, head of investments at Citibank.

People who tend to plan for the future and who have made a habit of doing so from their 30s find themselves in a better position as opposed to those who have not prepared earlier, he said.

“We have people in their late 50s who say they haven’t got enough to retire on and are not taking any advice on what they can do, so people tend to be caught up in a cycle of behaviour.”

The Citibank Retirement Index indicated a decrease in financial confidence among mature age workers who are keen to throw in the towel early.

The study also pointed to a contradiction in what Australians over the age of 55 were actually saying and doing. Only 5 per cent of respondents admitted to actually looking for work in the past 12 months, despite the fact that almost half said they intended to take up some form of paid work.

De Vries put such contradictory behaviour down to the ill-treatment of workers aged over 50 just 10 years ago. “It was not long ago that they were all shunned and punted out of organisations as they were deemed too old and too slow,” he said.

“What’s happened is a lot of people have therefore been disenfranchised. So, a lot of these people have taken their pay outs, started their own business, taken up franchises and so on, and are not interested in working for organisations after the way they have been treated.”

Alison Monroe, director of SageCo, said mature age workers should not make decisions about retirement based solely on financial information.

“The message here is that organisations need to step up to the plate and work with their mature employees by offering them access to holistic retirement planning. A lot of organisations do offer financial planning to their staff but it goes much broader than that,” she said.

There are many retirement success factors that need to be considered, she said, such as image and identity, relationships, health and wellbeing, goal setting and life planning.

Lack of awareness and quality time to access information are the primary cause of unhappy retirement decisions.

The role for HR is to look at different interventions for retaining mature workers longer, especially with labour shortages, an ageing population, loss of knowledge and therefore, succession planning issues, Monroe said.

“They must start to communicate alternate pathways to mature employees that can help enhance their morale and engagement and lead to increased retention as they examine their career options.


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