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AXA questions Kiwis’ ‘she’ll be right’ attitude

9 February, 2006

AXA questions Kiwis’ ‘she’ll be right’ attitude

International research by AXA released today suggests Kiwis are optimistic about their quality of life in retirement – but don’t necessarily equate quality of life with money.

The research, including New Zealand and 11 other leading OECD countries, shows 80 percent of working Kiwis and 84 percent of retired Kiwis believe their quality of life will be, or is, at least as good, if not better, upon retirement. Yet, most Kiwis believe their financial situation will remain the same or decrease when they’ve finished working.

Other findings include Kiwis being among the lowest savers of all countries surveyed - saving less than a quarter of what an average American currently saves - and only 16 percent of working Kiwis know exactly what their future retirement income will be. This makes New Zealanders among the least aware in this regard of all those surveyed.

“Part of what this is telling us is that New Zealand has many attributes that retired people can enjoy for free, but this does not account for the confidence of the respondents that their low savings levels will be sufficient to ensure a happy retirement,” said AXA Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Stewart.

“While the optimism is to be applauded, I am concerned that it reflects a somewhat blasé, ‘she’ll be right’ attitude that may lead many New Zealanders to have a significantly less fulfilling time in retirement than they currently think they will.”

The AXA Retirement Scope 2005, an international survey of 12 countries by AXA, surveyed 615 people across New Zealand and almost 10,000 people worldwide. The New Zealand component of the survey was conducted by ACNielsen late last year.

Some positive signs

Mr Stewart said that despite the relatively low savings levels, the survey contained some positive signs for the future of younger New Zealanders, who appear to be saving for retirement earlier. The average age working New Zealanders begin saving for their retirement is 32 – nine years earlier than when the retired respondents began saving.

“Although our net savings rates are below those of other OECD countries, it is good to see that the retirement savings message seems to be getting through earlier.”

ENDS

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