New research reveals most Australians are uncertain about their financial options for retirement


New research from leading Australian life insurer, TAL, and Investment Trends shows nearly two in three Australian non-retirees[1] are unsure about their financial options in retirement and feel they need more information to make choices that will meet their needs at every stage of life.

According to the TAL and Investment Trends 2023 Retirement Income Report, 65% of non-retirees don’t know about existing retirement income products offered by their super funds. Further, the majority of those who are familiar with retirement products like pensions or lifetime income products, have a limited understanding of how they work and the benefits of each. This highlights the important role of retirement specialists, including super funds, in providing guidance to boost financial literacy.

Now in its fourteenth year, the Retirement Income Report shows that having a good understanding of retirement income options leads to better outcomes for members and improved perceptions of their super funds. Just one in five non-retirees (20%) are certain that they will remain with their current super fund in retirement and 34% intend to get advice, further reinforcing the value of proactively providing members with product information in the lead-up to retirement.

TAL Chief Executive, Group Life & Retirement, Jenny Oliver[2] said that TAL partnered with Investment Trends to deliver this research as part of its commitment to understanding the challenges and needs of Australians in retirement.

“With 3.5 million people expected to retire in the next decade, TAL is committed to collaborating with super funds and other partners to provide more Australians with the opportunity to retire with confidence.”

“As a partnerships business that specialises in providing institutional solutions, TAL is uniquely placed to collaborate with funds to develop next-generation retirement solutions that meet the evolving needs of members at every stage of life,” Ms Oliver said.

Income for life is the top priority for both retirees and non-retirees

Though awareness of different categories of retirement products remains low, respondents are clear on the product features they value most. While fees remain an important consideration for non-retirees (57%), features deemed very important when selecting a retirement income product include having an income that will last for life (52%), receiving guaranteed minimum payments (47%), and having flexible access to capital (43%).

Ashton Jones, TAL General Manager, Growth, Retirement and Wealth Partnerships, said that TAL is focused on supporting partners to enhance their existing retirement solutions or to offer new solutions that provide members with the option for lifetime income and the confidence to spend in retirement.

“Over half of respondents say that income for life is a top consideration when selecting a retirement income product. This shows that members value holistic superannuation retirement propositions that provide them with the confidence of a regular income for as long as they and their partner live.”

“In the past, the only way super fund members could get a guaranteed income for life was to take up a traditional annuity. By default, they’d have to pay for inflation protection or investment protection as well. Now in the market, we’re seeing options for members to get longevity protection without having to pay for this extra protection. We see this as a new product category that many super funds are calling ‘lifetime pensions’,” said Mr Jones.

Confidence has increased, but so has the amount Australians expect they’ll need in retirement

The 2023 Retirement Income Report shows that despite persistent inflationary pressures, rising interest rates and economic headwinds, Australians are more confident about their ability to fund their retirement.

For the first time in nine years, a greater proportion of retirees expect their savings will outlast their retirement (35% in 2023 up from 28% in 2022) than those who expect to outlive their retirement savings (33% in 2023 down from 48% in 2022). Three in five retirees (60%) feel they are able to live comfortably, up from 55% in 2022.

For non-retirees, the retirement funding gap – the difference between expected income and perceived income needed for a comfortable retirement – has narrowed to an average of 27%, down from 34% in 2022, with perceived required income reaching a record high of $4,700 per month, up from $4,300 in 2022.

Those reporting a retirement funding gap say they plan to work for longer (51%), reduce spending (48%), contribute more to super (38%), or seek advice from a financial adviser (35%).

“Super funds are increasingly lifting the bar to better support members in retirement,” Mr Jones said.

“Educating members as they shift their thinking from accumulating super during their working lives to having an income to draw down from in retirement can improve member confidence and outcomes, as mandated by the Retirement Income Covenant.”

“We know many Australian retirees are reluctant to draw down their super balance in retirement for fear of outliving their savings, particularly with the expectation that they’ll need to fund future health and aged care costs[3]. They are living frugally and not enjoying the lifestyle they can afford. Lifetime income products can help lessen these concerns, by maximising a member’s expected retirement income, helping them manage and plan for risk, and providing flexible access to their funds in retirement.” 

Other key findings – Top concerns in retirement

  • The cohort most worried about their health in retirement is the 70-74 age group (67%). The main health-related concerns among retirees include physical ailments, illness, and cognitive decline while the main financial concerns for retirees include inflation, medical treatment costs, and aged care expenses.
  • The main financial concerns for retirees with the lowest super balances (less than $100k) are the most worried about rising costs (53%) and the cost of medical treatment (54%).
  • Retirees with the highest super balances (over $750k) are more concerned about falls in financial markets (53%) and regulatory changes around super (36%) but are far less concerned with rising prices than those with the lowest super balances (28% versus 53%).

About the report

TAL has partnered with Investment Trends to release the TAL and Investment Trends October 2023 Retirement Income Report, to determine how members’ needs are changing and how insurance in superannuation can address this by creating value at every stage of life.

In its fourteenth year, the annual research report is based on a quantitative online survey of retirees and non-retirees aged over 40 (N= 10,604) and conducted between July and August 2023.


 The term ‘non-retiree’ in this research refers to Australians aged 40 and older who have not yet retired. This is distinguished from ‘pre-retiree’, the term used for people ‘approaching’ or ‘transitioning to’ retirement, which is a subset of the population surveyed for this research.
[2] TAL recently announced an executive restructure which elevated the Retirement Portfolio and promoted Ms Oliver to the new position of Chief Executive Group Life & Retirement.
[3] TAL, Ageing Australians: YouGov Retirement Report, 2021. Based on responses from 526 Australians aged 50-64.

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