Worldwide pensions crisis: what it means for you

Will the worldwide pensions crisis destroy your retirement?

Worldwide pensions crisis

We are sitting on a global pensions time bomb. The six countries with the biggest pensions - which includes the UK - are facing a £54 trillion pensions nightmare, which is set to balloon to more than six times the size by 2050 unless something is urgently done about it.

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The UK's pensions gap - based on the difference between our income in retirement and the income we need to live on at that stage, will rise from $8 trillion in 2015 to $33 trillion by 2050.

Part of our problem is that, according to the OECD, savers in the UK can expect the state to fund just 38% of their working age income when they retire - lower than any other major advanced economy. Meanwhile, the figures, from the World Economic Forum found that we are simply not putting enough money aside to cover the rest.

Another major contributing factor is the speed at which the world population is ageing. Our pensions are being stretched over longer and longer lifetimes - and they're being stretched too thin. Life expectancy rises by roughly one year every five years. It means that babies born today could easily expect to live to the age of 100. As a result, by 2066 a quarter of the population will be over 65. It means fewer people in work and paying tax in order to fund the pensions of those over the age of 65.

At the same time growth has slowed, interest rates are at rock bottom, and returns on investments have been lower. Shares have performed 3%-5% less well and bond returns 1% and 3% lower than historic averages. It means that workplace pension funds and personal pensions have underperformed - so we're going to end up with even less money to stretch over our longer retirements.

What it means for you

The WEF believes the answer is two-fold. We will all have to work longer, and thanks to the fact that George Osborne linked state pension ages to longevity, we will have to wait longer for our state pensions.

Steven Baxter, Head of Longevity at Club Vita says: "The harsh reality is many of us will have to continue to work far longer than we'd have expected, far beyond the age at which previous generations retired."

We will also have to save more. The WEF says we should be putting aside between 10% and 15% of our salary each year to secure a meaningful pension in retirement. As Ben Simpson, CEO of Menzies Wealth Management, says: "Ultimately, it is about taking control of your financial future. If you don't want the state or your employer to decide your retirement age then act early and start saving now. Frankly, it doesn't really matter whether it's into pensions or an ISA - it's really about getting into the habit of regular saving at an early age, and reaping the benefits of compound growth."

How we spend our pensions

How we spend our pensions