Only 36% of South Africans have a retirement fund, and only 7% of retirees feel well prepared for it - survey

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(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: Getty Images)

A recent survey hosted in partnership with Sanlam found that only 36% of respondents have a retirement fund, while only 7% of retirees feel well prepared for it.

But there is hope, with a newly launched digital campaign and life-stage tools that can help ease the journey.

The survey, conducted by one of the country’s largest financial service providers, was hosted on News24 and surveyed more than 5 205 participants across a range of demographics. Now in two parts, we break down some of the findings.

  • Read article 1: 28% of South Africans say failing to make ends meet is their biggest financial concern

The survey was part of a larger campaign titled LI:FE of Confidence aimed at financial education. A key aspect of the survey was that it broke down respondents’ answers into 10 life stages, and among some of the questions, the survey explored three major financial themes: retirement, savings and receiving financial advice.

In some of the most pertinent questions about retirement, several notable findings emerged:
  • Overall, only 36.1% of all respondents had a retirement or pension fund.
  • Of those who indicated that they are retired, only 7.2% said they felt "well prepared" financially for retirement. A further 14.7% felt "somewhat prepared".
  • Only 52.1% of respondents between ages 55 and 59 (approaching retirement age) have a retirement plan or pension fund.
  • That number decreases as well in the final two age groups: Only 47.9% of respondents from 60-64, and 47.6% over 65, said they have a retirement plan or pension fund.
  • And yet, just 17.6% of those aged 25-29 have a retirement product, and it’s lower for 18-24 at 10.4%.

These statistics indicate a difference in how people view their finances when at different stages of their lives. The decisions we make when we are younger, for instance, can have a bearing on our ability to feel well-prepared for retirement.

sanlam li:fe infographic
sanlam li:fe infographic
sanlam li:fe infographic

It begs the question: what would your life look like if you could live your life in one day? How would you view the important financial decisions you have to make if you could see the rest of your life in 24 hours?

Sanlam is answering that question with their LI:FE of Confidence campaign. With the aim of helping South Africans live a more financially confident life, the Sanlam group is launching a new financial education initiative, which uses a range of digital tools to help address short-term thinking, by seeing how your life can change if it were lived in 24 hours.

The campaign was the first ever to be launched to the media in the metaverse and the first campaign to use a metahuman, Zesande, as it’s campaign influencer.

The importance of financial planning in your life

When it comes to financial advice, only 33% of respondents said they had a financial adviser. Out of these, 41% said they consult with them once a year, and around 10% of respondents said that they "almost never" consult with their adviser.

A deep dive into the data indicated that the majority of respondents in the life stages between 18 and 39 turned to the internet for financial advice. In contrast, most respondents between 40 and 64 consulted with a financial adviser before making any major money decisions, while 60% of participants over 65 consulted with a financial adviser.

This indicates that people in the younger age brackets – the age when it matters most in planning for retirement - are turning to vastly differing sources of information for their financial advice. The task of finding a financial adviser may seem daunting. However, a knowledgeable adviser will use their insight and expertise to create a personalised financial plan that meets the goals of their client. You also don't have to manage your own portfolio, which saves you time, energy, and effort.

sanlam li:fe infographic
sanlam li:fe infographic

Smart saving for a life of confidence

According to other results, only 41% of all respondents across all age groups had a savings account, while a quarter (24.6%) had investments. Interestingly, the youngest age group, 18-24, had the highest percentage of respondents who answered yes to having savings (63.2%), but only 9.2% had an emergency fund.

Pertinently, just over a third of respondents (36%) said the most financially empowering age bracket of their life - the age at which they learned the most - was between the life stages of 51-64. The second highest (30%) was between the stages of 41–50, suggesting that people were learning the most important lessons about money much later in life.

Sanlam’s LI:FE of Confidence campaign can help you bridge the knowledge gap between your younger and older selves. By looking at your potential life over the course of 24 hours, you will start asking different questions about what you should be saving, how you should view retirement, and who you should speak to.

Visit LI:FE of Confidence to find out more about how you can meet your financial needs at the life stage you find yourself in. Here you will meet a Zesande, a digital avatar who lives her entire life in a day, where South Africans can learn what they should be considering at the key life moments. The campaign's media launch took place in the metaverse on 31 January, a first for South Africa.

For more information visit: You can also download the full research report here.

This post was sponsored by Sanlam and produced by Adspace24.

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