Better retirement income products needed

Challenger's Jeremy Cooper is calling for better product design from super funds as new research shows most Australian seniors are living in fear that they will outlive their savings.

New insights from Challenger and National Seniors Australia reveal 53% of older Australians are worried about outliving their savings and women are even more worried.

About 59% of women are concerned they'll outlive their retirement savings, as opposed to 47% of men. This comes down to longer life expectancy, pay inequality, marital status and gender role expectations.

The report found people currently retired and receiving some income from super were more likely to be unconcerned (39%) than those who were retired, but not receiving any income from superannuation (27%).

Those without any super income, meanwhile, were the most likely to worry frequently (23%).

"Super not only provides a reliable source of income, but also reduces worry for older Australians. On average, women live three years longer than men, but our super system doesn't cater for this difference in longevity," Challenger chair of retirement income Jeremy Cooper said.

"What this and other National Seniors research clearly highlights is that people treat the age pension and their own savings differently."

Cooper said it's clear people fear running out of their own money, even though the safety net of the age pension will be there for them.

"This sends a strong signal that people worry about being solely reliant on the age pension. It's therefore important that super funds explore ways of providing more lifetime income to their members," he added.

The research also found that having a reliable source income that will last for life is a key factor for worrying less, with those people with a defined benefit pension or a lifetime annuity reporting the lowest levels of worry.

In perhaps disheartening news for financial advisers, whether a person received advice did not have any significant impact on levels of worry about retirement savings.

"Australia has one of the best pension systems in the world, yet Australian retirees are still showing high levels of worry that they will outlive their savings," National Seniors chief executive John McCallum said.

"This shows a need for better advice and education to help older Australians manage their savings so they can have the confidence to spend their money and enjoy retirement."

The report concluded: "An obvious way to relieve the worry of those in retirement is to stabilise the system which has been under constant change or threat of change for over a decade."

The study surveyed 3584 Australians aged over 50 on their behaviour and views across a range of topics including lifestyle, health and wellbeing.

Read more: ChallengerJeremy CooperNational Seniors AustraliaJohn McCallum
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