Just Rs 11.57 lakh to retire? Survey shows young Indians grossly unprepared for old age

Just Rs 11.57 lakh to retire? Survey shows young Indians grossly unprepared for old age

NEW DELHI: India may be one of the youngest countries in the world today, but 30 years hence, it will have a large population in the retirement age, and given how few people are preparing for retirement, a perfect storm is brewing on that front, warns a survey.

At a time when rising prosperity and improving healthcare have greatly increased average life-span and traditional family structures have begun to fragmentise, creating greater anxiety about the future, the lack of farsightedness among the young Indians may pose a big problem, suggests the findings of a survey that Nielsen conducted for PGIM Mutual Fund.

The numbers are disappointing: 51 per cent of Indians do not have a retirement plan. Barely one in five considers inflation while planning for retirement. Life insurance and bank FDs are top choices for those who plan for retirement, and this underlines the essential conservatism in most retirement plans.

In short, Indians are grossly unprepared for their retirement. “With a large ageing population and shrinking working age population, future governments will be struggling to provide for their elderly, making it imperative for individuals to have their own plans,” said Ajit Menon, CEO of PGIM India Mutual Fund.

Indians know retirement planning is vital, but do not want to talk about it. There is a tendency to focus on positive prospects (saving for education or weddings) rather than morbid ones (mediclaim, health insurance or term policies for accidents), shows the Nielsen-PGIM survey.

“Indians rarely plan for retirement as a standalone objective. Most Indians do not have a ringfenced ‘retirement fund’ – either because they haven’t begun retirement planning yet, or because they just have all-purpose funds and investments that may be used later for retirement, in case any of the worst-case scenarios do not materialise,” the report said.

The survey was conducted among respondents with an average annual income of around Rs 5.72 lakh, at an average age of 44 years and mostly urban. Most said they would need a corpus of around Rs 50 lakh for retirement, which investment planners believe would be inadequate as inflation will eat away much of the money’s worth.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows assuming 5 per cent inflation, in 30 years, Rs 50 lakh will be worth just Rs 11.57 lakh -- just one-fifth of the current value. This shows why ignoring the impact of inflation could derail your future plans.

So what could be done to encourage Indians to save more for their retirement? The survey said encouragement from employers may work. About 88 per cent of Indians say they would be at least somewhat motivated to plan for retirement if they got help and guidance in retirement planning from their employers.

Menon believes, apart from them, the government should come focus on this cause in order to bring down the future burden from its shoulders. “The government can provide a further boost to retirement planning by implementing or increasing tax benefits for long-term retirement savings and with designated retirement products such as insurance, National Pension Scheme or mutual funds,” he said.

Menon is also hopeful that the pandemic may bring in deeper changes in people’s behavior as early studies indicated a drop in spending and preference for cash and savings. “But we will have to see if these behaviours sustain over time, post the pandemic emergency.,” he said.

 20/10/2020   The Economic Times