Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Reality check for graduates

The Independent on Sunday told this summer’s graduates to get on the case in sorting out their finances.

First step is to sort the bank account – some banks automatically shift graduates to a special type of account with an automatic interest-free overdraft, but others don’t, even though all banks do have special accounts for new graduates offering not just interest-free overdrafts but other goodies.

Student loan repayments don’t start until you’re earning over £21,000 but after that they’re automatically collected via the employer’s payroll system.

Steve Clark

Baby Boom or Bust – the financial tsunami


As the first wave of baby boomers turn 65, the number of people in the UK approaching retirement is growing at a pace never seen in our history. Pensioner on Bench debsbyrnephotos

However, the problem is, for many of them, their bank accounts aren’t.

The crush of the economic downturn – which saw many people lose some of their life savings – has forced some people to work several more years than they originally hoped for when they were looking at their retirement plans.

Others simply haven’t saved enough of a nest egg over the decades to live comfortably in what should be the best years of their lives.

Just under half (45%) of employees in the UK don’t have a pension plan. The Office for National Statistics latest Pension Trends publication states that in 2007 about 9 million people were members of a company pension scheme and about 7 million were paying into a personal pension plan. The UK working population hovers around the 29 million mark. So that means only 55% are using a pension plan to save for their retirement.

A Financial Tsunami?

Baby boomers may be reaching their retirement in waves, but a financial tsunami could be in their wake.

New research by the Oddfellows Friendly Society and the Centre for Retirement Reform (CRR) into understanding of retirement income has highlighted a worrying knowledge gap among those approaching retirement.

The survey – which was conducted among 1,200 Oddfellows members aged between 55 and 65 – found that on average, £25,000 per year was considered enough to provide for a reasonable standard of living.

Nearly 20 per cent of those yet to retire either didn’t know or didn’t answer when asked how much they would need to save to enjoy the post-retirement lifestyle they want.

Huge Tyre Small PumpMore worrying was the fact that most of those who said they did know actually underestimated the figure. The average answer was £380,000 when it’s closer to £500,000. According to the Pensions Policy Institute the average size of pension fund used to buy an annuity was £24,330. Unless you have a company pension to bridge the gap, or have accumulated 20 of these “”average “pension plans, it’s likely you’ll miss the target.

Clearly if these baby boomers want to maintain the same standard of living, it’s going to be difficult. It’s not an immediate problem, but it’s a problem that’s going to creep up on us in the future.

One of the effects of the prolonged economic slump is that many workers aren’t retiring at 65 and are now working for several years more than originally planned just to comfortably exist. With the removal of the Default Retirement Age making it more difficult for employers to justify retiring an employee some people who are currently working may never retire.

So what’s the answer? sleeping

Is there one? In my previous post I wrote about my concern that we were sleepwalking towards a very poor old age.

The government is taking some action by forcing us to save for retirement with automatic enrolment into workplace pensions. However, you’re going to have to go some to build up £500,000 of a pot by the time you retire.

Many people have grown up over the last few decades with no real saving mentality or habit. Some are even largely excluded from financial products – sometimes voluntarily. Brian Pomeroy – who is the Chairman of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce – said recently:

“The single thing which is most likely to make someone who is really distrustful of the banks open a bank account is wanting a Sky TV contract.”

At the other end of the scale the boom in house prices over the last twenty years has lulled people into seeing the equity in their house as a means of financing their retirement. However, in words of one campaigner for pensioner rights “You can’t eat the front doorstep”.

Realistically there is no magic bullet. As a nation I believe that we have to:

  • Educate our children about the need to save from an early age.
  • Get finance into the school curriculum.
  • Realise that the government isn’t going to support us when we retire.
  • Make financial products simpler and more straightforward.
  • Make our pension system easier to understand for the man in the street.
  • Plan ahead. Having a financial roadmap helps us navigate life’s ups and downs.

Most of all it’s really simple – we’ve all got to save long and save hard for our future.