New life, old life

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia report (2020), 3.9 million retirees were living in Australia in 2019.

But with the baby boomers (who were born in the 1950s) reaching age 65 at a rate of more than 120,000 a year, that figure will be five million before we know it. It’s little wonder super funds are finally paying attention to their retiree members – in fact, there are five million reasons.

The New Life, Old Life study flips the ubiquitous product‑centric perspective and looks at retirement from the individual member’s point of view. As its name suggests, this quantitative study uncovers the lived experience of real members over 45 and their emotional journey as they make the major life transition from working to retirement.

We look at the expectations of pre-retirees at the peak of their career as well as those transitioning to retirement and those who have retired within the past 10 years. And we find that the runway to retirement is shorter than expected – most of us don’t work for as long as we intend to. Sometimes the reasons are out of our control; sometimes they’re not.

We also uncover members’ needs and desires for support, and their expectations of their super fund. We learn that many of their needs are not being met, pre-retirees and semi-retirees are experiencing financial stress, and their expectations of their super fund as a custodian of their retirement savings extend far beyond product features.

A member’s main fund is the first place they turn to when they have questions about retirement. With Australian financial advisor numbers dwindling to below 16,000, retiring members are being shut out from the benefits of quality advice.

Moreover, the final recommendations of the Quality of Advice Review are the missing link to a regulatory environment that would see super funds using their members’ data to help them make better decisions.

Accessible advice is important because whatever the conditions that bring about our retirement, there are always things we can do to prepare and improve our circumstances and, more importantly, our quality of life.

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