Superannuation Tax Estate Private Wealth Financial Planning Announced

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( — March 6, 2019) — Sydney, NSW — Tax hikes and changes and an ever-rising cost of living paint a gloomy financial picture for all Australians, says Len Elias from TLK Partners in Sydney

Tax hikes and changes and an ever-rising cost of living paint a gloomy financial picture for all Australians. But it’s even more dismal for current retirees, and those looking at leaving the workforce soon. TLK Partners financial planner, Len Elias, says finding ways for them to keep financially afloat for the rest of their lives is becoming increasingly difficult. And it seems like Superannuation can’t do it alone.

Australian Superannuation is often considered one of the best government retirement programs globally. Since 1992, it has entitled Australians who earn over $450 a month (before tax) to a mandatory Superfund contribution from their employers for their retirement. The current contribution rate is 9.5% is calculated according to ordinary time earnings, and employees are encouraged to boost it with their own salary sacrifice.

Superannuation funds are accessible at 60 (the Commonwealth preservation age) for those who retire permanently, or at 65 for those who still want to work. The funds can be accessed as a lump sum or as an annual pension payout, but many Australians are not rushing to do so. Financial concerns have led to increasing numbers of Australians over the age of 45 are putting off retirement till 70 or later.

ASFA, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia claim that, on average, during the 2013/14 financial year, men had a balance of a little under $300,000 in their fund at retirement age. Women had less than $150,000, and households averaged around $355,000. Since then stock markets have been both bearish and bullish, inflation has risen and not come down, and there have been changes in the tax situation. By the 2015/2016 year those average balances had dropped to $270,710 for men and risen to $157,049 for women.

These averages fall far short of the 2018 figures AFSA suggests as reasonable starting balances for retirement when, and only when, retirees own their homes. The association puts the amount a single person would need to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle at $545,000 , and couples at $640, 000. And it claims $70,000 should provide a so-called modest retirement assuming that the state’s Age Pension and other supplements take care of most of the usual expenditures. But for how long?

AFSA’s calculations set couples’ living costs at just under $61,000 a year, and singles at a little over $43,317, for what AFSA dubs a “comfortable” lifestyle. This allows for some extras like home maintenance and small improvements, as well as an occasional holiday, and it takes into account that retirees’ lifestyles change as they age, and expenses shift from activities and vacations to medical and caring needs. But with that annual budget, the balance AFSA recommends for retirement will see a single retiree’s funds run dry after about 12 years, and that of couples after just over 10 years, if not bolstered by partial Age Pensions or other investments.

Len Elias pointed out covering the 22 years between retirement at 60 and the Australian average life expectancy of 82 years, it would appear opening balances would therefore have to sit at over $1,28 million for couples, and about a million for singles.

In the so-called modest category, which allows for basics only, the recommended starting capital of $70 000 will only fund the calculated singles’ budget of $27,648 for 2,5 years, and the couple’s $39,775 for less than two. Fortunately, a full Age Pension (just under $24,000 a year for singles, and a combined $36 000 for a couple) would stretch the balances, should the retiree be eligible for it.

Clearly, while it provides a base which could support a tightly-budgeted retirement in the short term, planning and saving is needed to stretch that funding over what could be a long retirement.

Len Elias is a partner at TLK Partners, a company that takes care of the wealth management and accounting needs of ordinary folk, small and medium businesses, and high value individuals. TLK Partners, Chartered Accountants and Wealth Management Company website, or call (02) 8090 4324.

This material is of a general nature only, it does not take into consideration your financial circumstances, needs or objectives. Before making any decision based on this content, you should assess your own circumstances, seek professional advice or contact our office to be directed to the appropriate professional. Whilst all care has been taken in presenting the material neither TLK Partners or its associated entities guarantee that the material is free of error and, the information may have changed since being published.

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