Returning confidence to retiring Australians: Allianz Retire+ and Macquarie University announce landmark advice research project


Joanne Earl

Allianz Retire+ has announced a research partnership in conjunction with Macquarie University, focused on better understanding the impact of a range of inputs to pre-retirement advice in order to ensure everyday Australians get the retirement they deserve.

The three-year research project – ‘Improving Retirement Planning, Decision Making and Adjustment: Towards a Holistic Model of Advice’  – will be led by Associate Professor Joanne Earl of Macquarie University in collaboration with Allianz Retire+, and will work with Australian retirees and financial advisers to measure adjustment or ‘happiness’ in retirement as a result of receiving holistic advice.

The study extends earlier research conducted by Associate Professor Earl (published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour) that looked at the importance of resources or ‘buckets’ – health, wealth, social, cognition, emotional, and motivational factors – in helping to understand what keeps people well in retirement.

In the latest iteration of her research Associate Professor Earl places greater significance on the timing and conditions of work exit. The project team plans to practically apply the resources model, engaging clients in training and discussions about planning for retirement, specifically looking to incorporate career, finance and health advice when thinking about retirement.

“We think the conditions of exit are a really critical part of the retirement planning decision process. We know that there were 177,500 people who said they were retired in phase one who were back out looking for work in phase two according to successive waves of the Multipurpose Household survey. The primary two reasons for why this was happening was because they were worried about money and they were bored.  That says to me, the question about timing is not as self-evident as you might think,” stated Associate Professor Earl.

This new project will track Australians transitioning to retirement, as they are guided to plan their exit or reconceptualise their participation in the workforce, allowing them to revise their plans with each new input of advice.  It will research the impact of active planning across different buckets when transitioning to retirement.

“Rather than just financial advice, early on in the process, we’ll be introducing people to careers counselling or careers advice, as well as a medical assessment to challenge their thinking about health. Helping people to go through that decision-making process before they start talking to a financial adviser

will give people a lot more information to work with. Those people that have been through this process should make better-qualified decisions than those people that are in a control group,” Associate Professor Earl said.

The project will also look to assess the added value of individual advice and will test the efficacy of more flexible models of delivery such as online and robo-advice compared to the traditional face to face, seeking to determine how these elements may work together to assist people in transitioning to retirement.

Jacqui Lennon, Head of Product and Customer Experience, Allianz Retire+ believes this research has the potential to redefine the way advice is delivered to retirees: “Our partnership with Associate Professor Earl and Macquarie is a hugely exciting prospect for our business. This research has the potential to rescript how we approach retirement advice, so as an industry, we are creating confidence for Australians in retirement.  We know from speaking with retirees that when it comes to making decisions about their retirement, it’s never purely a financial conversation.  It’s emotional, philosophical and financial. This research should define exactly what trusted advice looks like and will provide insight into what role advisers can play in setting up people for a happy retirement. Post Royal Commission, many advisers are struggling to define their value proposition, and with 1,000 Australians retiring a day, there has never been a more pressing need to undertake this research”.

If the research is successful, then it should see a difference in retirement adjustment for those that have been through the process compared to the control group.  It is expected that participants will have made better decisions, having taken into account different scenarios increasing their confidence in the choices they have made. Overall their retirement will have met or surpassed their expectation.

Associate Professor Earl explains: “After going through the process of reviewing their health, career and financial goals, we should expect retirees will be able to make more informed choices and will have revised their plans as a result. This should lead to them increasing their adjustment in retirement and overall see them having happier retirements.”

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