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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 January 2019

Three quarters of UAE residents are not saving anything for retirement

HSBC said while 62 per cent of working-age UAE residents aspire to a comfortable retirement, they are 'in for a shock'

From next year, residents aged 55 or over will be eligible to secure a five-year retirement visa if they meet certain conditions. Getty Images
From next year, residents aged 55 or over will be eligible to secure a five-year retirement visa if they meet certain conditions. Getty Images

More than three quarters of UAE residents are not saving anything for their retirement, a new survey from global bank HSBC found.

According to the financial institution’s Future of Retirement: Bridging the Gap study, 76 per cent of those polled fail to stash money for their future, with only 24 per cent planning ahead by investing into assets such as equities and property. The survey of 1,115 people also found 83 per cent expect their children to support them later in life.

Marwan Hadi, head of retail banking and wealth management, UAE, HSBC, said the survey indicates that for many residents “the reality of the here and now is taking precedence over preparing for life after work”.

"Two in five agree it’s better to spend money on enjoying life now than saving for retirement, and more than half are typically saving for short-term goals rather than longer term plans,” said Mr Hadi.

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Retirement has come under the spotlight in the Emirates this year after a five-year visa for retirees was unveiled in September by the Government. Non-Emiratis over 55 can secure the visa if they have an investment property worth at least Dh2 million, or financial savings of Dh1m, or an active monthly income of Dh20,000 or more.

At the Mena Pensions Conference in Bahrain in October, analysts discussed the potential of the GCC's end of service gratuity getting an overhaul as it only factors in the years an employee has worked for a company leaving many with a shortfall in their retirement savings.

HSBC said while 62 per cent of working-age UAE residents aspire to a comfortable retirement, they are “in for a shock” as only 24 per cent are planning ahead.

Instead, the majority of UAE residents expect their children to fund their retirement – the highest number globally. However, Mr Hadi said evidence from current retirees suggests only 20 per cent are actually receiving any financial support from their offspring.

Steve Cronin, founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com, a non-profit website helping people invest their money sensibly by themselves, said with no government pensions for non-Emiratis, high rents and school fees, as well as plenty of spending opportunities, "people save very little, which is a waste of potential tax-fee savings growth".

"It's very easy to set up your own retirement fund by opening an account with an offshore broker and investing in a couple of low-cost, index-tracking stock and bond ETFs. Then you can maximise your monthly savings rate to rapidly grow your retirement fund," said Mr Cronin. "Avoid structured long-term savings plans, as the high fees will ensure your savings never grow fast enough to even beat inflation."

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HSBC attributes the low saving rate to poor knowledge of the amount needed to fund a retirement. According to the World Health Organisation, global average life expectancy increased by 5.5 years between 2000 and 2016, to 74.2 years for females and 69.8 years for males, the fastest increase since the 1960s.

“We know lifestyle demands and day-to-day commitments can make it hard to save for tomorrow. But recognising the costs of ageing, and making plans for them sooner rather than later, is the first step towards a rewarding older life,” said Mr Hadi.

While almost two-fifths are concerned about the affordability of residential care, only 7 per cent are putting aside anything specifically for future nursing and home care costs.

Mr Cronin added: "The mindset shift is to think not about living on the golf course when you are 65 - it's too distant for many to motivate saving - but about being able to choose any job or passion when you're 45 because you have the savings."

Updated: December 14, 2018 10:45 AM

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