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One in two Australian Women face financial hardship

16 April 2002

More than one in two Australian women say they will need financial help such as the pension or will need to cut their lifestyle dramatically if they are to survive adequately during retirement, according to national research released today.

Among its key findings, the Commonwealth Bank Group research shows 36 per cent of women think they won't have enough money to live on when they retire unless they get financial help. A further 18 per cent say they will only have enough if they cut back their current lifestyle dramatically.

In comparison, one in four Australian men say they may need financial help, with a further 20 per cent expecting to cut back their lifestyle drastically to survive.

Commonwealth Bank Group General Manager, Investments and Insurance, Peter Beck, said an alarmingly high number of Australian women, around 54 per cent of all 16 to 59 year olds surveyed, are expecting to suffer financial hardship throughout their retirement - which can now represent a period of more than 25 years.

"The issue of retirement, and how to prepare for it, is different for every Australian," Mr Beck said. "The research has confirmed that for some, it is a long awaited period of personal and financial freedom. For others, retirement looms as a period of financial and/or personal crisis."

"This research confirms our view that many Australians are heading blindly into retirement without understanding how to prepare. Men and women of all ages and incomes remain confused about how much they need to retire on, what they have set aside for retirement and how they can help themselves achieve their goals."

According to the research, 23 per cent of Australians are too busy to worry about their finances, 32 per cent say planning their finances for retirement is so complex they don't know where to start, and 58 per cent don't know how much money they will have to retire on.

"Alarmingly, the research shows that as a nation we still expect a helping hand in the form of a pension. We continue to expect that government-provided financial assistance will always be there for us to fall back on. In reality, it has been very clear for some time now that governments will continue to encourage all Australians to self-fund their retirements through superannuation schemes."

Among its key findings, the research shows:

  • 30 per cent of Australians with retirement ahead of them say they will need financial help in retirement.
  • In total, 54 per cent of Australian women and 43 per cent of men facing retirement say they will either need help or will have to cut back their lifestyle drastically to survive.
  • 44 per cent of Australia's 50-64 year olds say they will need financial help, and a further 17 per cent will need to cut back their lifestyle drastically.
  • 25 per cent of respondents earning between $70,000 and $100,000 say they may need financial help in retirement. A further 14 per cent will have to cut back their lifestyle.
  • Perth respondents feel most pessimistic about their financial security, with 49 per cent saying they will need financial help, and a further 12 per cent planning to cut back their lifestyle.
  • Divorced Australians expect tough retirements, with 51 per cent saying they will need help and 22 per cent planning to cut back their lifestyle.
  • Almost 60 per cent of Australians say they don't know exactly how much money they will have when they retire.
  • Only nine per cent of Australians say they contribute to superannuation schemes on top of their employer's superannuation to cover career breaks, with 16 per cent saying they work part-time and only contribute to superannuation when employed.

Concerned by these key research findings, the Commonwealth Bank Group has launched a major national retirement campaign designed to make it easier for every Australian to understand their retirement needs and how to make these achievable.

"This research is a wake-up call for all of us," Mr Beck said. "It's obvious that as a nation we need to better prepare for the future, that we need to take control of our finances, and better understand our superannuation programs if we are to enjoy any quality of life that we aspire to."

"This requires careful thought and planning, which is where financial institutions such as the Commonwealth Bank can lend a hand. We understand the issues, and can help each individual set achievable retirement goals.

"This doesn't have to be a complex process. It can be as simple as deciding to consolidate your super funds, or adjusting your mix of investment strategies, or simply putting aside an extra $40 a week for retirement. Whatever your circumstances now, or your stage of life, it's never too early or too late to better your situation and prepare for retirement."

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