12 Nov 2012

Tough times deter retirement savings

11:07 pm on 12 November 2012

The introduction of KiwiSaver has made people more aware of the need to save for retirement but the difficult economic environment appears to be putting off people saving.

A big bank's quarterly retirement savings confidence survey has found only 5% of those surveyed intend to live solely on their New Zealand Superannuation payments.

ANZ Bank's managing director of wealth and private banking, John Body, says the economic environment is difficult and households don't have a lot of discretionary income to put towards retirement.

"People have been more aware of savings because of KiwiSaver ... but we have not made the connection between the fact that we are saving and how much money we will need for the retirement that we want," says Mr Body.

"Only third of people have looked into their savings goals and have a target of what they want to achieve."

About two million New Zealanders have invested $13 billion in KiwiSaver, and Mr Body says that the need for people to provide some of their own retirement income had gained a higher profile in the media.

Where people have set savings targets, those with a longterm plan are quite realistic, but some savers have not made a detailed calculation of how much money they are likely to need in retirement.

Hesitant spending

The survey, published as a "barometer", follows a separate warning by ANZ senior economist Mark Smith the higher fuel costs and a slump in job growth have made people more hesitant about their spending plans.

Mr Smith says that despite signs of a pick-up in the housing market led by Auckland, spending is being determined by money in the pocket, not the wealth tied up in a person's home.

Currently there is more uncertainty in terms of the labour market outlook which means consumers are continuing to be more cautious about spending, he says.