THERE are many reports saying people are not saving enough for their retirement.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made it worse in the sense that people are finding it hard to save as the priority is to cover day-to-day expenses.
However, planning for retirement allows you to decide on the level of comfort and lifestyle that you desire in your golden years. Even those on any pension scheme should plan ahead for their retirement.
Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) chief executive officer Nik Amlizan Mohamed said that government employees scored the highest in terms of retirement well-being and financial planning according to a study conducted by AKPK (Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency).
KWAP is responsible for managing and processing pension and benefits for government servants.
She said most civil servants are blessed to get monthly pension payments upon retirement and it comes with a 2% annual automatic increment on pension payments.
However, the question remains if their monthly pension payments will be sufficient post-retirement after taking into account factors such as inflation and increasing life expectancy.
She was one of the panelists at the recent Smart Invest Fest 2021, deliberating on the topic of “What’s up with retirement planning amidst the pandemic and its future.”
She said it is imperative to adjust lifestyles accordingly upon reaching retirement and ensure all gratuities and savings they have are invested properly as this can supplement the pension payments for civil servants.
She suggested that perhaps, towards the last 10 years before retirement, civil servants could explore different types of investments such as private retirement schemes (PRS) to help them save for retirement and to supplement their pension payments.
“For those who are a bit more conservative, they can invest in a balanced fund and those who have a (higher) risk appetite can explore listed equity funds,’’ she said.
It is best to invest via a fund that offers a diversification strategy, is managed by professionals at a reasonable cost, and is easy to liquidate when the need arises.
She highlighted that some pensioners are also seen as “easy targets’’ of scams. She cited the “Macau Scam’’ where a total of 61 out of 130 victims were pensioners.
“Typically, they (scammers) would target the gratuity that pensioners receive at the end of their career. There is no such thing as a get rich fast way. Do not fall for this get rich fast schemes,’’ Nik said.
She also reminded civil servants not to commit to long term debt and to clear all loans before retirement. She believes it is never too late to plan for retirement.
Civil servants are fortunate to have medical benefits provided upon retirement. However, for those working in corporations, once they retire, the medical benefits provided by companies also disappear.
It is therefore important to take into account the health cost post retirement and to plan for some buffer for medical costs.
Malaysian Association of Asset Managers chairperson Raymond Tang, another panelist, felt that young people joining the workforce should start saving early.
He believes that if you can save RM100 a month, and with continuous savings over the years, that can reach a million or more at retirement (or earlier).
“Have a plan for retirement and adjust your lifestyle to spend less and save more,” he added.
Discretionary spending is something we can do without and know your “needs and wants’’ instead of splashing on things that you do not need.
If you have depleted your savings during the pandemic, restart the savings habit.
Nik added that the power of compounding interest is “a magic.’’ When you do small savings in a disciplined manner and continuously, the small bit will not be subject to the vagaries as over time it will normalise and that RM100 savings can result in one million in retirement (or earlier depending on how much more you save).
“Know what you want to have upon retirement, know how much you need and work backwards,’’ Nik said.
Apart from investing in fixed deposits and unit trust, PRS is another way to grow your wealth, besides other options, including capital markets instruments.
Private Pension Administrator Malaysia chief executive officer Husaini Hussin said there are eight providers of PRS and 58 funds that offer a mix of conventional and syariah products.
By investing in PRS, one can get RM3,000 in tax relief in each year of assessment and the tax relief is till the end of 2025.