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Malaysians don’t care much for retirement planning

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Retirement planning ranks poorly on the list of Malaysians’ financial priorities.

The 2013 Manulife Investor Sentiment Index in Asia found less than half of Malaysians have started planning for retirement, while fewer than one in five consider such planning either their first or second financial priority.

“The findings show a lower percentage of Malaysians view retirement planning as a financial priority than in any of the other Asian markets surveyed,” Manulife’s press release stated.

The survey, which collated results from 500 respondents in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, also warned these figures point to a possible five-year retirement funding gap, due to Malaysia having one of the longest retirement periods in the region.

The survey calculated average savings for retirement would last just 12 years, compared to the 17-year retirement period which investors expected, resulting in a five-year gap as a likely consequence. Taking into account the possible changes in inflation levels, the figures could be worse, according to the report.

“Malaysia has the earliest statutory retirement age among those markets – 60 years of age. It means the expected number of years’ retirement is likely understated, while the level of financial planning for it is clearly inadequate,” it said.

Commenting on the figures, Mark O’Dell, group chief executive officer of Manulife Holdings Berhad, said: “Immediate action is needed in order to avoid a lot of financial pain down the line in retirement. That means doubling efforts to build awareness and educate investors.”

The top reason given by respondents for not planning for retirement earlier is that they are “still young,” particularly those aged 25 to 39 years. This is followed by supporting children’s education, mainly from those in the 30 to 49 years age range.

Expectations from children, in fact, contribute significantly to these figures.

In Malaysia, 42% of those aged above 48 expect to rely on their children for financial support in retirement, as compared to the average of 18% in the region.

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