Majority of over-55s not confident they can afford to retire

More than half (58 per cent) of over-55s are not confident they will be able to retire, according to “alarming” data from Hargreaves Lansdown (HL).

Survey data from the firm showed that 60 per cent of the cohort did not know how their pension investments were performing, while 54 per cent did not have a clear idea how much their pension is worth.

The average age the group expected to retire was 67.5, while their average monthly pension contributions stood at £249, although HL pointed out that these contributions could be low because a higher proportion of the age group might have retired early and began part-time employment.

However, the firm said it was concerned at the lack of confidence in retirement, stating: “For all the generalisations about baby boomers enjoying the spoils of home ownership and final salary pensions, there is still a chunk of older people for whom retirement is a big worry. This may include renters, divorcees and the self-employed.”

Contribution rates were higher among 35-54 year olds at £311 per month, but they were less aware of the details of their retirement savings, with 64 per cent not having a clear idea of their pension’s worth and 67 per cent not knowing how their investments were performing.

As such, less than a third (31 per cent) were confident that they would be able to afford to retire.

The youngest age group surveyed, who ranged from 18 to 34, paid average monthly contributions of £298 and a third (33 per cent) had a clear idea of the worth of their pension.

Just over a third (35 per cent) were confident they would be able to retire but 34 per cent did not have a pension and 10 per cent did not know if they had a pension or not.

However, HL said this might not be too much of a cause for concern as the students in the group would have brought the figure down, while factors such as student debt and getting onto the property ladder might also take priority over retirement saving.

HL senior analyst, Nathan Long, commented: “There’s no one single right way to prepare for retirement. For one person, their plan may be to start winding down at 55 by going part-time, while someone else may be happy to work full-time until 65. But it can help to know how you compare to people of a similar age, and roughly where you should be at each stage.”

Long said it was important that people “start to understand how much money you’ll need to retire and what your retirement will look like” as they grew older and ask themselves why they were not taking advantage of retirement savings vehicles.

He concluded: “In terms of how much you should save, a general rule is to save 12 per cent of your income each year from age 18 to 68. This includes tax relief and any employer contribution.

“However, few of us start at 18, many will have periods where this goal isn’t achievable, and not everyone wants to work till 68. It’s worth using an online pension calculator to check how much you should aim for.”

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