This realisation has been intensified in the minds of many of my associates with the recent release by The Nielsen Company of its Global Aging Report. Briefly, it seems the study shows that though more than half (56 per cent) of Malaysian consumers want to retire before the age of 60, only 2 in 10 are financially ready.
After Malaysians, it seems that consumers in China (51 per cent) and Indonesia (49 per cent) are second and third most likely groups to retire before they turn 60. An average of 40 per cent of consumers in Asia Pacific plan to retire before the age of 60. This compared the global average of 30 per cent.
Nielsen's managing director in Malaysia says that the early retirement plans of consumers in Malaysia could be due to the company's Consumer Confidence Index in Malaysia hitting a 3 and 4-year high in the final quarters of 2010. Early retirement plans may be an indicator that the economy in Malaysia is robust but then again we must take note that the study also showed that Malaysians are skeptical that they can correctly envisage how inflation in the next 20 or 40 years could whittle away their savings and best-laid schemes. Especially as personal savings form more than half (51 per cent) of Asia Pacific consumers' retirement income plans.
Even in a mature economy such as the UK, retirement plans are now in jeopardy. Along with severe cost containment plans announced recently by the UK government, the number of Britons over 65 exceeds those under 16, reported The Guardian. As the country grows older, the demand is growing for people to be able to work beyond pensionable age. It would appear that the daily grind has produced very little reward for the 'baby boomer' generation -- babies born to couples reunited after the second World War.
However, to balance that dark thought, Nielsen's study shows that the senior market will be a force for decades to come. Among other benefits to the wider economy is the creation of more opportunities for the wealth management sector. Other industries could also realise benefits: I was impressed by how many of the tablet and other consumer IT products were being used by the older generations on a recent trip to the UK. One relative told me her iPad made her feel connected and alive in the world, even though she retired some years ago.
Another consideration is I have seen many of my parent's generation become different people once they retire. They start to mentally depart from the world and live somewhere else. The brain seems to tick over more slowly, there is a feeling that they've switched off and waiting to leave. As I said, the speed of change is the only constant. One of my early mentors told me that if you want to be a truly successful person you should only retire five minutes after your life is over. Perhaps best to live mostly in the moment and not retire from life?
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.