Each year we produce the top 15 retirement issues/trends for the year
- The surging upward trend of New Zealanders over 65 in paid work continues, probably due to the fact most cannot afford to retire. However it’s the educated that benefit mostly from this trend, and the hurdles to find work post 60 years, are considerable. Those most likely to need work later in life are the least likely to find it.
- Longevity and aging of the population is a demographic reality. The topic requires careful analysis and cautious assumptions. Longevity is increasing, but note the last few years of life may be impaired health, with a probability of a critical illness ( e.g. cancer, stroke, heart, prostrate, Alzheimer’s ) affecting many. Different implications for different groups apply when longevity is discussed. Longevity for some groups is lower than others!
- New Zealand Superannuation is the safety net for all retirement income planning. The model is very sound, efficient, effective, reasonable costs, excellent for women, and keeping the elderly from poverty. The costs of New Zealand Superannuation over time are often exaggerated. The simplicity of the current model of NZ Superannuation, and its universality is acknowledged as a world leader. Minor adjustments only are required, as and when they surface. The evidence clearly shows New Zealand has got it right. Consumers want consistency in retirement income issues, and the first Parliamentary party to accept this, will harness good will and ballot box support.
- Kiwi Saver schemes supports New Zealand Superannuation, and is also a sound savings model. Consideration should be given to Government guaranteeing the scheme.
- Fees and costs for Kiwi Saver schemes have become more transparent. This trend must continue.
- Passive and index funds, generally produce similar returns to active funds. When lower fees for passive funds are factored in, schemes following this approach should be a favoured option. Predicting in advance the performance of active managers is impossible, and with their fee structure normally higher, reducingreturns over time, the client aware principal applies.
- Buying an annuity or similar product upon retirement or following receipt of post Kiwi Saver lump sums and drawing an income from it, is neither popular nor fully understood, but this approach makes sense.
- Rental accommodation issues need review. Housing needs are changing and the standard length of term and the issue of short term leases is just an example of matters requiring attention. A national Housing symposium or similar would be helpful.
- Future projections for calculating pensions and health costs must recognize the inherent adjustment factor that occurs in society, and the error factor in long term assumptions is very high!
- Failure to Launch. The trend of parent’s supporting adult children with financial assistance continues unabated, yet this is severely affecting retirement years savings. Current trends are parents subsidizing children in various way, including significant child care for under 5’s, housing loans and early inheritance gifting. Parents homes are becoming, a place of return by siblings 20-45yrs following divorce or early work experience. These costs are carried principally by parents.
- Health topic requires both transparency and discussion. Chronic illness across all age groups , and the end of life costs (last 6 months all age groups) dominate costs . Increasing health costs due to technology and supplier fees and products, elective surgery options , and increasing the take up of private insurance require public debate.
- Senior year people need help in making better use of the wealth tied up in their homes, to support their living options. Conversations on retirement village issues, reverse mortgages /house equity issues and inheritance approaches, need visibility and increasing discussion.
- Pension eligibility and portability issues e.g. Section 70 of the Social Securities Act needs review and the Social Security agreements NZ has with a number of countries require transparency and monitoring. The spousal issue relating to overseas pension deductions and NZ Superannuation is unfair and needs urgent attention.
- New Zealand is one of the few countries that neither insures nor guarantees bank deposits, instead adopting the moral hazard principle, “make wise choices”. This is poor policy and needs to be changed.
- Media commentary on retirement income issues, remains traditionally superficial with little historical or trend analysis, a few voices dominate the headlines. Awareness of Scandinavian approaches, and approaches adopted in countries like Canada, Chile and South Africa would be useful additions to the discussion. How does one increase the knowledge of Parliamentarians on retirement income issues?
Posted b y Alec Waugh