By Peter Kelly on 22 October 2020
Anyone who knows me will know that I absolutely detest telemarketers – those people who phone me the very moment I sit down in front of my TV at the end of a long day at the office, to catch up on the latest from my favourite YouTube channels. I am convinced they have a hidden camera in my home just waiting for the ideal opportunity to dial my number.
Growing up in a middle-class family in Australia’s “golden age”, I was taught a couple of things. I have carried these lessons through life.
One tenet was not to be rude to people.
Sometimes it can be challenging to resist the temptation to lash out and give an unwanted telemarketer a mouth-full but, in the main, I am very tolerant. I don’t even hang up without first saying goodbye!
During the last week, I had a call from a young lady who wanted to help me plan my retirement.
Firstly, she told me the Australian government is very concerned about the level of retirement savings Australians have. She was very specific and told me the average Australian had, at retirement, just $100,000 in superannuation.
The second astounding fact she shared was that the government believes we each need between $1.2m and $1.5m to retire comfortably.
By now, I was all ears.
But I couldn’t resist providing some up-to-date figures for her. After all, if she is going to be calling people to help them plan for their retirement, I felt it was my duty to at least give her some current information.
The call didn’t go much further than that. She said she would speak to her supervisor and then hung up on me!
So, what are the facts?
The Australian government does not publish a preferred level of savings a person should have for retirement.
The closest we get to a figure is the information published quarterly by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). Their most recent research (June 2020) suggests that a couple will need an income of around $62,000 per annum, and a single person just over $40,000 per annum, to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle.
ASFA suggest that a couple can generate this level of income with around $640,000 of superannuation savings. Of course, their retirement income will be subsidised by a part age pension.
A single person needs approximately $545,000 in super to support a $40,000 lifestyle. With this level of superannuation savings, a single retiree will be receiving very little, if any age pension, because of the assets test.
My caller then went on inform me the superannuation balance of the average Australia at retirement was just $100,000.
This isn’t quite true, although it is difficult to get up-to-date figures
Back in 2017, ASFA published a report covering the average superannuation balances of Australians at a range of ages. Unfortunately, the report relies on 2015-16 data, so it is reasonable to expect that the balances have increased since then.
Back in 2015-16, the average superannuation balance of a male aged 65 to 69 was $246,916. For a 65 to 69-year old female, the balance was $171,227.
While these figures are considerably more than the $100,000 my caller quoted, they are not, in themselves adequate for the average retiree to be able to afford ASFA’s comfortable retirement. But strategies for building retirement savings is for another blog.
I still wonder what my caller would have told me if I had not been impertinent by proceeding to update her information.
Somehow, I think the call would have gone along the following lines. They would have asked me:
- Do I own my own home?
- Do I own it outright, or do I have a mortgage?
- If I have a mortgage, do I have equity in my home?
- Am I working?
Then they would ask me my age. If my answer didn’t meet their age criteria I would then be informed that I didn’t qualify for their program.
These callers are simply pre-qualifying prospects to be approached by property promoters.
They are identifying people with a regular income who can use the equity in their home to support additional borrowings to gear into an investment property.
Perhaps if I failed to qualify for their investment program, their mate would call me back a few minutes later and pre-qualify me for solar panels.
Oh dear, I am becoming very cynical in my old age!