Expats could lose retirement savings

Cape Town - More than a third of expatriates have misplaced pension funds, reveals one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.

The head of deVere Africa, Craig Featherby, says expats are typically more likely than those who remain in their countries of origin to have lost track of retirement savings because, not only are they likely to have worked for several employers over their careers, but also work in several  countries. 

In a global poll of almost 1 100 new and potential expat clients since January, 36% admitted to having lost track of retirement funds over time said the group, whose African operations are managed from Cape Town.

It is this scenario that creates “the perfect storm for a pensions vacuum”, said Featherby.

Personal finance

He pointed out that “due to the types of careers they have, and lifestyles they lead, expats will typically reside in several overseas destinations throughout their working lives and be employed by several employers.

“A consequence of a more transient lifestyle is that it is more of a challenge to keep up to date with personal finance admin such as informing providers of new addresses.

“ As such, many expats find that their accumulated retirement savings can all too often become lost over the course of time.

“This is not just an issue for those who are nearing retirement.  Our poll shows that a high proportion of those in their 30s and early 40s also have misplaced pension funds.”

He went on to say:  “It’s important that we stay on top of all personal financial matters, but perhaps particularly so with pensions as it may be some time until they have to be accessed.

Financial products

“ It’s also true because we’re all living longer, meaning we have to save more than ever to be able to fund a comfortable retirement and because the state will not be able to provide the same level of support it has been able to previously.”

The company recommends that expats who have lost track of pension pots should contact an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA) with specialist cross-border experience who can contact pension schemes to obtain information on their behalf. 

Once the retirement savings have been recovered, the IFA can suggest how to protect and maximise the funds, using established financial products that are exclusively available to expatriates, allowing them in many cases to become significantly better off than their contemporaries in their country of origin.

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