Helping women rebuild for retirement post COVID

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As optimism grows that the worst of COVID-19 might just be behind us, it bears reminding that in 2020 over 3 million Australians withdrew more than $36 billion in retirement savings under the early release of super scheme.

More than 80,000 of AMP’s women members accessed their super savings, with our research showing they’ve withdrawn a higher proportion of their balances than men.

This money provided much needed assistance at a time of considerable financial uncertainty, but we mustn’t lose sight of its impact on retirement savings.

We know women already have lower super balances. We also know they’re more likely to find themselves living below the poverty line in retirement.

And, with this quarter’s Financy Women’s Index showing a revised timeframe to economic gender equality of 101 years, it should be no surprise that women are generally more anxious about their retirement outcomes – one of the key findings from AMP’s latest Financial Wellness research.

While near-term COVID-19 challenges remain, the message I want to share for those women who have withdrawn funds as part of the early release program, is to take stock now, and start taking steps to rebuild your super balance.

Our super system is a purpose built, tax friendly way of building long-term retirement wealth. It’s designed around the concept of ‘compounding’, which dictates that through a sensible investment strategy, a little now multiplies over the years into much more.  This can have a profound impact on the size of retirement nest eggs and quality of life in later years.

Where do you begin to rebuild your super?

While you might not have spare funds available now, you can start building your knowledge of the super and retirement system.

The system can be complex, but many funds, offer education, support, resources and tools to help members – take advantage of their insights, resources and expertise to build your own knowledge. AMP, for example, has created an Insights Hub, full of resources which anyone can access. Encouragingly, this site was visited more than 380,000 times last year.

It’s also important to understand the different types of strategies and options available to increase your super balance. These will differ based on your personal circumstances, but include concessional (before-tax) and non-concessional (after-tax) contributions, spouse contributions, and government assistance.

Also, start the conversation about super and retirement with your family and friends… share your knowledge with your daughters, granddaughters and nieces.

On the surface there may be more interesting topics to discuss for those under 40 than ‘non-concessional contributions’, but let’s help ensure the sometimes harsh reality of opportunity lost doesn’t hit home for women when retirement is just around the corner.

In short, it’s never too early to start planning for retirement, and building – or rebuilding – your super balance.

By Ilaine Anderson, Acting Managing Director Superannuation, Retirement and Platforms

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