The Australian Seniors Series: Super Insights

The thought of setting ourselves up for retirement can seem overwhelming. With so many moving parts, we wanted to better understand the attitudes towards retirement and superannuation in Australia. Forming part of the Australian Seniors Series, the Super Insights report surveyed 1,000 over 50s and sheds light into the financial decisions they’re making to ensure a comfortable retirement, along with the obstacles and solutions some of them have found along the way.

Super financial decisions

Financial decisions can vary in magnitude, so it’s no wonder that almost 2 in 5 (38.3%) of seniors surveyed are confident in making most financial decisions, but need help in making those decisions deemed a little more difficult. A similar amount (36.8%) say they like to take control of their finances, but value reliable sources to help along the way.

In terms of trusted advice, it seems home is where the heart is with just over a quarter (26%) turning to their partners to help them make important financial decisions. This is followed by simply trusting their own instincts and relying on themselves (24.7%). Under a third (30.2%) of those surveyed have never received financial advice, but would consider it.

Possibly one of the most important financial decisions to make well ahead of retirement can be deciding on a superannuation fund. When looking at funds, 2 in 5 (40%) are with an industry fund and over a third (34.5%) say this is where they hold most of their retirement savings. This is followed by 1 in 5 (20%) who are with a public sector fund.

Goals and the daily grind

When asked about their top financial goal, making money last throughout retirement came out in front with just under 1 in 5 (18.8%) saying so.  And although it’s a strong desire, this is also their greatest financial challenge (20%).

Sadly, just under a quarter (24.9%) of seniors surveyed are struggling to pay everyday bills, and just over 1 in 5 (20.1%) don’t feel as though they have the money to do the things they want in life.

Despite the financial hardships many go through, 70% say they feel in control of their finances, and over half (54%) feel as though they have enough money put away for an emergency.

The reality of retirement

So how early is too early? According to the research, almost a third (31.4%) say they first started planning their retirement between the ages of 46-55, and well over half (57.4%) frequently think about retirement. Often when they start to plan ahead, they think about what could go right, but also what could go wrong.

Almost 8 in 10 (77.6%) worry they’re not saving enough, and are concerned that they won’t have enough money to last their full retirement (74.1%). There’s also 60% that are anxious about paying bills, once they enter their work-free years.

When asked what retirement will look like based on their current level of savings, the top response was ‘modest’ (35.1%) followed by ‘uncertain’ (24.4%). The good news is that the majority agree that they’d be ‘satisfied’ with this.

The gender gap

There’s no doubt that each party in a relationship plays an important role, and at times we may sacrifice things in order to support the other. Unfortunately, this sacrifice can impact females in a monetary manner with a large proportion (83.2%) feeling there’s a gender gap in superannuation balances come retirement, with females being vastly disadvantaged compared to males. Career breaks to raise a family (76.7%) and the gender pay gap (65.1%) are cited as the top reasons for the difference in savings. For those that are taking steps to bridge this gap (23.5%), additional contributions (58.8%) and remaining in the workforce longer (35.9%) are the top things women are doing. 

Setting it up

To safeguard retirement plans and live their golden years to the fullest, many are taking steps to ensure they’re set up comfortably. The research shows that understanding how much they really need and having a plan in place (44.4% and 44.3% respectively) will provide them with more confidence when it comes to preparing for retirement. Some (41.8%) are even making voluntary contributions to their superannuation to further add to their nest eggs.

Whether it’s saving more, working longer, or looking for other ways to retire comfortably, younger generations can learn from older Australians. It’s important that as we get older, that we start to take care of ourselves and plan as early as we can, so we can enjoy those golden retirement years.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Australian Seniors Series.