Deadlines are hard to avoid these days.
Those of you who follow the football will be familiar with transfer deadline day.
The deadline for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-selling claims has now passed (thank goodness!) and, unless you’ve been confined to a nuclear bunker for the last few months, you’ll be aware of the ever-shifting Brexit deadline.
We all face deadlines of varying degrees of importance in our day-to-day lives, whether it’s to pay a bill, complete a piece of work or pick the kids up on time.
I might add that there are soft deadlines – those it would be nice to meet - and hard deadlines – those beyond which there’s a definitive loss, an opportunity missed or a penalty of some kind. Deadlines are a fact of life!
Retirement planning deadlines
As someone who has worked in financial services for over 20 years I’ve met and spoken with a great many people about their retirement plans. Retirement is probably a soft deadline for most people, but it’s a hard deadline for others. To paraphrase a frequently expressed viewpoint: “I’d like to retire at the age of 55, that would be nice, but more realistically I’ll probably retire around State Pension age.”
By contrast, I’ve also heard, albeit less commonly: “I’m not working a day past my 55th birthday. I don’t need too much to live on, I’ve done my stint and I want to enjoy as many healthy years of retirement as I can.”
I think most people could identify with both these sentiments but there’s a third group, those people who don’t have any particular retirement deadline: “I enjoy working and I’ll carry on for as long as I’m physically and mentally able.” It’s all down to the individual.
Furthermore, we can change our mind about how we view deadlines and retirement is no exception. The thought of retirement at a certain age might be considered a soft deadline by many younger people and become a harder deadline as people get older. I’m generalising of course, but it tends to be the case that older people take their saving for retirement more seriously. That’s understandable – their deadline, whether it’s hard or soft, is approaching! However, the earlier you start saving the more comfortable you’re likely to be later on in life.
These days, most employees can continue in employment for as long as they are able to do so and that’s just as well for some people, as they may not feel they are in a position to retire.
However, from an employer’s perspective this could represent a risk. How well are your staff preparing for retirement? Are they motivated and physically and mentally able to give their best? Do they have the savings and/or the knowledge required to transition from work into retirement? How can you help them manage this?
Punter Southall Aspire’s experienced consultants provide pension clinics and presentations for a wide variety of employers. We’ve found that face to face guidance is the most effective means of engaging people to consider their retirement plans and take meaningful action; whether that’s increasing contributions, consolidating pension arrangements, reassessing their situation, appointing a financial adviser or perhaps speaking to their partner or their employer’s HR department about their options.
As some employees return to work after a half term holiday, for example, immediate thoughts will turn to the email inbox and catching up with day to day work. However, now might also be a good time for longer-term holiday planning - the full-time holiday that can be a reality for those employees who prepare well for their retirement deadline.