In 2014, HSBC carried out a worldwide survey of over 16,000 people in 15 countries called The Future of Retirement. The findings were bleak, with a tenth of people thinking that they will not be able to fully retire. The main reasons for this were:
Life events, such as losing your job, getting into serious debt or a significant drop in earnings.
Worldwide interest rates, which have been at such a low figure for such a long time that savers have not had any effect against the rising costs through inflation.
The breakaway of younger working-aged people against pre-existing ideals of existing pensioners.
Confidence in gaining any sort of pension at retirement age and having the retirement age increase.
As you can see, if you are thinking like this you are not on your own. There are many others in the very same position. So what can you do?
With respect to life events, these happen. Short of getting a crystal ball you cannot be fully insulated from this, but having emergency savings will be able to pull you out of a hole when you need it. If you do not have emergency savings and you rely on a credit card for instance, stop. Stop right now.
If you are looking at retirement in the next few years, interest rates and inflation should be a big issue for you. If you are looking at working for a couple more decades, it shouldn’t matter much. Remember your long-term goal. Keep to the plan and do not panic when savings rates drop or inflation goes through the ceiling. That is the time to re-evaluate your position and make changes to it. Not drastic ones, but maybe a little tweak here and there.
If you are lucky enough to work for a company that gives you a corporate pension, use it. Use every single bit of it you can. Even if you think that you will not work there for long or the pension scheme may not be funded correctly, the benefits far outstrip the negatives.
Confidence in either your occupational pension or a state-funded pension is warranted, especially state-backed welfare pension schemes, however do not be reliant on a state pension. Please make your own significant path for the future. There are many ways do this, from a personal pension to insurance products, investment accounts, property, savings bonds and good old-fashioned thrift.
You may not be able to sit on the deck of your Sunseeker yacht sailing round the Med for your retirement, but if you start to do something about it sooner rather than later, you can at least buy yourself a captain’s hat for the journey on a pedalo with your grand kids.
Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at Paul.firstname.lastname@example.org