World Economic Forum

JUL 6: BEST FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

July 6, 2020

New research from the World Economic Forum, reported by Corporate Advisor, suggests the “savings gap” between what we should set aside for retirement, and what we actually have, is on track for monumental growth.

“Globally, experts are concerned many people could be sleepwalking into retirement poverty. The World Economic Forum (WEF) highlighted that the gap between what people save and what is needed for an adequate standard of living in retirement will create a financial black hole for younger generations,” the Advisor’s Emma Simon reports.

The WEF looked at the some of the world’s largest pension markets, including Canada, the U.K., Australia, the U.S., the Netherlands, China, India and Japan, and concluded “the gap” could reach a staggering $400 trillion U.S. in 30 years.

But, the article says, there is still time to do something to avert a crisis.

“With ageing populations putting increasing pressure on global pension and retirement plans, employees, employers and governments need to take more responsibility and act to prioritise pensions and savings,” Simon explains.

Countries around the world have done some interesting things to boost retirement savings.

In the U.K., the article notes, “automatic enrolment” was rolled out in 2012. This means that new employees are automatically signed up for their workplace pension plan, with an option to opt out. Thanks to this, there are 10 million more pension plan members in the U.K., although there are concerns about 9.3 million who aren’t in plans because they were too old for auto-enrolment, the article explains.

In Australia, the Superannuation fund system was made mandatory “in 1992 for all employees older than 17 and younger than 70 earning more than $450 (AUD) a month.” So this means everyone is saving on their own – but with the current maximum contribution of 9.5 per cent (soon to rise to 12 per cent), there are questions as to whether they are saving enough.

A Benefits Canada article from a couple of years ago raised the same question – are Canadians saving enough for retirement on their own? While Canadians had accumulated an impressive-sounding $40.4 billion in RRSPs as of 2016, the article notes that the median contribution annually was just $3,000.

As of 2018, reports the Boomer & Echo blog, the average Canadian RRSP was an impressive sounding $101,155. But if someone handed you $100 grand and then said “live off this for 30 years in retirement,” it wouldn’t sound quite so great.

There’s no question that saving needs to be encourage in Canada and around the world. The Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security both provide a pretty modest benefit, and most of us don’t have a workplace pension. So steps should be taken to encourage more access to pensions, to look at increases to government benefits, and to encourage more saving.

If you don’t have a workplace pension plan, the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be just what you’re looking for. The SPP is a defined contribution plan. You can contribute up to $6,300 a year, and your contributions are carefully invested at a very low fee. When the day comes that work is no longer a priority, the money you’ve accumulated through growth and ongoing contributions can be converted to a lifetime pension. Check them out today.

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.


Jan 6: Best from the blogosphere

January 6, 2020

Can living longer cause you a pain – in the pocketbook?

We all hope to enjoy our golden retirement years with the blessing of good health.

But could this blessing – a long life – actually be a problem in disguise?

New research from the World Economic Forum, covered recently by the Montreal Gazette, suggests the living longer creates the risk of outliving your retirement money.

“Today, one of the most taxing challenges that is often left out of the conversation is the impact of the change in average lifespan,” the Gazette reports. “According to Statistics Canada, today, the average Canadian will live until age 82, with the number of centenarians — those reaching the age of 100 — continuing to grow,” the newspaper notes.

And those of us who are born more recently will see ever greater longevity in life, the article continues, noting that research from the Lancet suggests a girl born in 2030 will live to 87, a boy to 84. That’s up sharply even compared with life expectancy data from 2010, the Gazette reports.

OK, so we are all living longer. So what’s the downside to that?

“The World Economic Forum suggests that today, Canadians will outlive their retirement savings by more than 10 years,” the article warns. The article recommends that people work with financial advisers to develop a plan to help insure against this risk.

What would such a plan contain?

The article notes that in the UK, many retirement programs available through work offer “automatic adjustments,” such as an automatic increase in savings contributions when there’s a raise or change to a better-paying role. Other tactics include looking at investments that offer lower fees, since high fees can eat away at the value of your savings.

Some organizations offer “lifestyle and investment modelling tools” to help individuals choose a savings strategy that aligns with how they see their latter years unfolding.

But the article concludes that while such measures are a good start, more work needs to be done in this growing area.

“It’s clear that there is no simple solution to retirement savings,” the article states. “However, one thing we know for certain is that driving change requires increased demand. To manage finances successfully, individuals should understand the decumulation options available to them, how their money is being distributed, and what happens to their savings when they retire.”

This is very sensible advice, since most of us focus on saving as much as we can for retirement, but then have no plan in place to turn the savings into an income stream. Imagine if you got paid once a year – how would you handle your bills, your rent, and so on? You’d have to make that money last until the next year. That, in a nutshell, is what “decumulation” refers to – taking a chunk of money out of a retirement savings vehicle and then living on it.

There’s another option available to ensure you don’t run out of money. You can use some or all of your savings to purchase an annuity. The annuity will provide you with a monthly payment for the rest of your life. This makes planning easier, and you can’t run out of your savings. This option is available through the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, and the annuities they offer come in various different forms. Check it out today.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Sep 30: Best from the blogosphere

September 30, 2019

A look at the best of the Internet, from an SPP point of view

After the saving comes the tricky part – turning savings into income

Writing in the Regina Leader-Post, noted financial commentator Jason Heath saves that while most people agree saving is a great idea, “how much to set aside and how to set your targets are up for debate.”

He notes that when RRSPs were first rolled out back in 1957, you were allowed to contribute up to 10 per cent of your earnings, to a maximum of $2,500, each tax year.

“The percentage limit was doubled to 20 per cent in 1972. In 1991, it was decreased to the current 18 per cent of annual earned income for the previous year, to a maximum of $26,500 for 2019. Unused RRSP room from previous years accumulates each year as well,” he explains in the article.

So, he asks, can we assume that the “right” level of savings is somewhere between the two RRSP limits of 10 and 20 per cent?

The argument for putting away 10 cents of every dollar you earn was most recently popularized by author David Chilton, Heath writes. But the World Economic Forum suggests we save “10 to 15 per cent” of earnings,” he notes.

Having a savings target – let’s say 15 per cent – is only half the battle, the article continues. When you’ve saved up all that money, how much should you be withdrawing each year as retirement income?

Heath notes that in 1994, financial planner William Bengen proposed the so-called “four per cent rule,” meaning that “four per cent was a sustainable withdrawal from a balanced investment portfolio for a 30-year retirement even if stock markets subsequently had a bad 30-year run,” Heath writes.

But a 2017 Morningstar paper suggests “three to 3.5 per cent may be more appropriate,” assuming high investment fees and today’s relatively low interest rates, both factors that weren’t the same 25 years ago.

“If you assume a 3.5-per-cent withdrawal rate, you can work backwards from retirement. For example, a 65-year-old who needs $35,000 per year of withdrawals indexed to inflation would need to save $1 million. And a 45-year-old starting from scratch to save towards that same $1-million target in 20 years would need to save about $25,000 per year indexed to inflation (assuming a return of four per cent and two-per-cent inflation),” Heath writes.

As Heath notes, the math here is somewhat head-spinning, but the concept for setting a savings target is actually fairly simple – how much income per year do you want to have? From there, do the math backwards and figure out how much to put away.

He goes to explain that there are other programs that can help. You have the newer option of saving for retirement in a tax-free savings account (TFSA), and most of us will receive money from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and even the Guaranteed Income Supplement to top up the income we’ve created from savings.

When people roll out this sort of stuff, it’s somewhat akin to finding out that your “ideal” weight is 100 lbs less than what you are walking around with right now. A lot of times, knowing that you will need to put a lot of effort into fitness and diet is so daunting that you take yourself out for a cheeseburger and fries to dull the mental pain. But like anything else, a long-term journey can be achieved by making many small steps. It’s the same with retirement savings. Start small, gradually increase what you save, and in a few decades you’ll be happily surprised at your balance. But start – don’t suffer analysis paralysis.

And a great place to start the retirement savings journey is the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. They have everything you need to set up your own plan, make regular contributions, and watch as they are professionally invested and grown. At gold-watch time, you can get them to start making regular, monthly payments – for life – to the account of your choosing! So if you’re on the sidelines and not quite ready to put your toe in the water of retirement savings, check out SPP – the water’s fine!

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22