Should we be rethinking our retirement age in South Africa?

Should we be rethinking our retirement age in South Africa?

Published on 3rd September, 2021 at 12:52 pm

A longer life expectancy coupled with challenging times means relooking at your retirement planning and changing the way you think about your retirement age. So, what is key to getting it right? Experts share their insights.

Retirement reimagined

The way you think about retirement makes all the difference in ensuring yours is a successful and fulfilling one. To adapt and succeed, a change to our traditional mindset is necessary. “Retirement is a life stage, not a once-off event. It’s not something that just ‘happens’,” says Patrick Sheehy, head of product management at Glacier by Sanlam. “How well you manage financially during this life stage depends on the plans you had in place during your working life ie how much you saved, and importantly, the plan you lay out for your retirement,” he adds.

Where that life stage begins falls more into your hands now than it did before, and as Lenwhin Arendse, managing director of Aspire Human Capital Management, puts it: “The first challenge to overcome is our conditioning as a society to relate a certain age to retirement.” For many, a new longer life means that working after age 60, 65 or even 70 is the only way to supplement your retirement savings. The good news is that with the right mental shift, it can be as fulfilling as your working years.

Need help with your retirement plan? An intermediary is best placed to advise you based on your personal portfolio, needs and risk. Click here to set up a meeting with one today.

4 Principles for making a success of retirement planning for this life stage

Principle #1: Keep the plan and the planning holistic
“[Your plan] can’t be just about financials. It has to be holistic and structured within the means that are available to [you],” says Sheehy. Holistic planning also takes into account how you manage your lifestyle, your own physical and mental stimulation needs, and those of your dependants. As these needs change, so will your plan.

Want to know how much you should put away monthly to reach your retirement savings goal? Use this retirement calculator to get started.

Principle #2: Play open cards
Whatever your financial situation at the start of your retirement, don’t hide from it. Conversations with your partner, your intermediary, your kids and with your life coach or retirement coach need to be honest and open. “You can’t change the past. You need to look forward, acknowledge what you have, and the lifestyle you may need to adapt to,” says Sheehy. “Discuss it with your partner and start formulating your plan together – preferably before the retirement date.”

Gain control of your financial future by taking your partner out on a money date. What is a money date and how can you get it right? Find out, here.

Principle #3: Don’t go it alone
Retirement can be overwhelming. Adapting to the changes ahead of you will take time and guidance, so lean on professionals who can help inform and guide the change management you’ll need to consider as you step across the retirement threshold. Your finances are also entering a new life stage, and you’ll need to make important decisions about these too. “You may not be able to undo many of these financial decisions,” cautions Sheehy. “Invest in educating yourself about your options, so that when you have those conversations with your intermediary, it’s not a one-way conversation, and you can have a robust discussion about it.”

Principle #4: Stay involved in your plan
As your life changes, so will your plan, which is why it’s important to adapt it to keep it relevant. “Be alert to how your plan is performing against your expectations,” says Sheehy. Have you factored in the time value of your money and whether your savings are protected from inflation? How can you manage your income stream for optimum longevity? Are your tax and estate planning needs taken into account? Asking these questions helps you stay involved in your retirement planning.

How to stay relevant in your career during this life stage

In Andrew J Scott and Lynda Gratton’s The New Long Life, the professors of economics and management practice respectively at London Business School look at not just surviving but flourishing in a changing world. They suggest that our longer lives and greater technological disruption will mean more career shifts and transitions. “At times this will mean that you will need to upskill to safeguard your role, while at other times you will need to reskill – to move into a completely different type of work,” write the authors.

Other than to stay relevant, reskilling could be necessary if you don’t see yourself being able to meet the demands of your current job into your later years. “Physical activity and energy required, long hours or high stress levels are examples of factors that may not be sustainable in the long run for both physical and mental health reasons,” says Nike Wadds, director at Stand Tall Consulting. “This will require a refocus and shift in your career to some degree.”

Want to know which degrees or credentials are likely to pay off in the long term? Read this to find out which five career fields are thriving.

Whether you’re considering semi-retirement or continuing to work part-time, further education is what will keep you relevant for the evolving (and competitive) job market. “Since jobs will be displaced in the future of work, but not necessarily all the skills that make up a particular job, the way you think about what jobs you are able to do should change to what skills you have that can be employed,” suggests Arendse. “If you want to succeed and remain competitive, you need to invest time in bettering yourself to ensure your expertise and skills remain current and sought after,” says Wadds. Education into your later years not only ticks the upskilling box, but will maintain that all-important mental stimulation you’ve been used to throughout your career, which has its own rewards for your overall health.

Want to kick-start your upskilling journey? Use your free Personal Assistant to help you source quotes for courses to help you upskill and supercharge your career.

“I hate my job, but I’m behind on my retirement savings. What now?”

Although there aren’t many shortcuts to catching up, there are things you can do now to commit to better later years. “Seek professional advice to make sure your investment strategy is optimal and you’re making efficient use of the tax benefits available to savers,” suggests André Wentzel, Head: Client Solutions Sanlam Retail Affluent: Recurring Savings. “In order to save more, you either need to prioritise savings or look for ways to reduce your expenses.” Wentzel encourages starting with good financial habits. “Have a realistic budget for how to spend your income, including savings and servicing debt. Reduce the amount spent on servicing bad debt, and have a good grip on your expenses. Then work out how much you’ll likely need to get to your retirement goals, with the help of a professional, if needed. This may be scary or overwhelming, but it helps to be informed, and can also keep you motivated.”

Delaying your retirement, if embraced positively, can be not only financially rewarding, but mentally and emotionally satisfying, too. “It is important to focus positive energy into your later life career goals, doing something you would enjoy doing and that would still ensure a good work-life balance,” says Wadds. “If you hate your job at 45 or 50, now is the time to start thinking about making some positive career changes to ensure happiness and success in later life.” While a ‘forced’ career change to ensure your own financial sustainability into later years can be daunting, there are some advantages not to be overlooked. Your time is your own, so you could have more flexibility to work shorter hours and still pursue interests that wouldn’t have necessarily generated the income you would’ve needed during your younger years.

Feeling unprepared for retirement? Speak to an intermediary, who is best positioned to explore your options and help you make financial decisions to help you retire comfortably. Book a meeting today, here.

Glacier Financial Solutions (Pty) Ltd and Sanlam Life Insurance Ltd are Licensed Financial Services Providers.

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