Leisure after a lifetime of work is out of reach for Alberto and Nory. Alberto plans to retire this year, but he’ll have to find another job. His income from one of Chile’s mandatory private pension systems will be the equivalent of $210 per month, about 15% of his current salary. For context, the standard amount for income in a defined contribution plan is 20% to 25% here in the U.S.
“It’s easy to run out of money in retirement here because the money you have in your pension isn’t enough to survive on each year after year,” he says. Nory will collect the $75-per-month pension available to homemakers.
“Taking care of my three children is the most important thing,” Alberto says. “I will keep on working to make sure they are taken care of and maintain our lifestyle.” Their children are all employed, and have children of their own, but Alberto and Nory say they help them when they can.
For now, Alberto and Nory will continue to work and spend time with family. The couple has been fixing up a home on land they own in their hometown of San Carlos in Southern Chile. “I really want us to move back to San Carlos, as it’s on the countryside where expenses are lower and life is more relaxed. But that will have to wait until our grandchildren are older and able to take care of themselves,” Nory says.
INDRA & NAINA
Indra and Naina came to Australia from Africa in 1999 and became citizens in 2003. They were middle-aged when they migrated and will qualify for only small public pensions.
That means more years of work for both of them. Indra says he’d love to work on the house they recently built and spend more time following the sport of cricket. But he needs to keep up his foreign exchange business for at least another three to five years. Naina expects to continue working as long as she can. Eventually, they’ll cobble together retirement income from pensions, savings, and property investments. They may also get some help from their two children, who are ages 33 and 29. Indra explains, “We’re hoping our family will support us as they grow older or we will have to scale back our lifestyle.”
Indra and Naina do worry about running out of money, and spoke to some retirement planners at their local bank. They were advised to work as long as possible to boost their savings and also trim their expenses when they do retire. When that day comes, Naina says she wants to pursue further studies in science and wants to help raise any future grandchildren. “I just look forward to spending more time with my family,” she says.
JÖRG & BIRGIT
In the former East Germany, incomes are smaller than in the West, which means smaller pensions too. Jörg owns his own business and thus only paid into the state pension when he was an apprentice for three years. As a result, he expects to get only 60 euros per month from the state pension after he retires. So Jörg and Birgit bought three apartment buildings to boost their retirement income. They aren’t sure how much longer they’ll work. They won’t be able to collect pensions from their business for another 10 years, but Jörg might retire sooner. “I hope I can live off the rental income,” he says.
Brigit and Jörg have three sons. Two finished college and the third just turned 18. “We’ll of course help him get through college,” Jörg says. “We’ll always be there for them if they need us” and he hopes to someday leave the rental properties to the kids.
When they do retire, Birgit says she wants to travel while keeping her home base in Germany. She can’t wait to be a grandmother. As for Jörg, he’ll spend more time with his hobby of breeding sheep and, he says, “I’m looking forward to sitting in my garden in the morning.”
HUGH & NANETTE
San Francisco, United States
Hugh Byrne, 53, is a marketing executive. Nanette Asimov, 56, is a journalist.
Hugh and Nanette have lots of retirement options. They expect income from several sources, including retirement accounts, Nanette’s workplace pension and rent from property. Like many Americans, they have 401(k)s from previous employers that they’ve rolled into IRAs. They don’t plan to collect Social Security until they’re 70, when they’ll qualify for the maximum benefit. “We both like working and want to continue doing so,” Hugh explains. “I won’t have to work longer than I want to, but what I’m doing might change.”
Hugh says that while he used to worry about his money running out at an old age, “it’s a little bit less of a concern right now. It’s really more about protecting ourselves against catastrophic events, like the recession we just went through.”
Thanks to careful planning, saving discipline and late retirement, they probably won’t have to cut back spending when they quit working and will still be able to leave something for Hugh’s daughter from a previous marriage. They will have plenty to keep them busy. Hugh is a dedicated photographer. Nanette does her own writing and is active in local government. And they’re avid adventure travelers. “We just want to be happy and useful and do a variety of exciting things as long as we can,” Nanette says.
What We Can Do
It begins with knowledge
Alook at the evolving global retirement landscape shows challenges to be sure, but opportunities as well. In advanced and developing countries alike, pension systems are being transformed in many different ways and people are finding they have more responsibility to take care of themselves. At the same time, the range of options for financing retirement is constantly expanding. As the retirement toolkit grows, planning and preparation are increasingly rewarded. Opportunities to work are proliferating too—not necessarily the daily grind that people long to leave behind, but creative alternatives including start-up businesses and part-time, home-based and contract jobs.
The people we spoke with come from faraway places at different stages of development. But they are all redefining retirement—thinking about the next phase in different ways than the generations that came before them. It’s not always an easy road. Some of our couples are working longer than they want or facing lower incomes after they retire. For all of them, retirement planning is more complicated than when people could count on a public or private pension to carry them through. But our couples are more youthful and healthier than previous generations. They have more choices available to them. And the world is a much smaller place—something most of them are determined to take advantage of.
In every country, there are opportunities to improve public and private retirement systems to help people live better. People require the knowledge to make wise choices, the resources to live well and the tools to accomplish their goals.
Chip Castille, Managing Director, is BlackRock’s Chief Retirement Strategist heading the Global Retirement Strategy Group.