5 Top Tips for Pension Planning

Pension planning is vital in overall financial and estate planning.

Everyone has an annual allowance of pension contributions that attract tax relief and this can add substantially to a defined contribution pension over the long term.

There are 5 tips to planning for life after work!

  1. Start Early – the earlier one starts and the longer one is invested, the more time the investment has to potentially grow. This also takes advantage of the tax relief provided over a longer term.
  2. Diversify – Spreading risk is vital in a pension plan and investing in a mix of instruments and companies – local and offshore, over the long term will balance overall risk and increase chances of preserving wealth and growing capital.
  3. Minimise Fees – Fees can impact returns for investors and can make a substantial dent in a pension plan particularly with older pension schemes that have high annual management charges. It may be an option to transfer to a better value scheme or instrument to improve one’s potential long-term outcome. Before switching one should check if there is a transfer fee and that one is not losing out on any valuable benefit attached to the existing pension plan. ie: some older schemes provide for a guaranteed rate of return when retired, that would not be applicable in a newer scheme that might be based on market fluctuations.
  4. Top-Ups – An annual allowance for pensions retest every year and so it makes sense for one to keep contributing by setting up a regular saving or lump sum investment.
  5. Let it ride – one of the best ways to make a pension work for you is to leave it invested. When one starts taking benefits, contribution restrictions are triggered that reduce one’s annual allowance. If one can live off other income and investments, the pension funds can accumulate while one still takes advantage of the tax relief on contributions.

When investing for the future – past performance should not be the guide. The value of market investments and the income from them can fluctuate massively over time and there are no guarantees –
To this extent property remains the cornerstone of any long-term financial plan – be it for the younger generation starting out and investing for rental returns and capital growth, or for the older generation – those born between 1946 – 1964 – the baby boomers!

The Baby Boomers

Research has shown that individuals over the age of 60 are the biggest spenders in the property market currently – with the average home price being approx. R 1.7million – which is 4% more than this time last year and more than double the average paid by people in their 20s (approx. R 800 000) said Rudi Botha, CEO of Better-Bond.

People are living longer and many are not retiring until well into their 70s, so even if they do sell the family home and downsize to a more secure and manageable property – it will often be in a better location and have access to more facilities.

The Gen-X buyers – born between 1965 and 1982 are now generally in well established careers and have children in school or studying. The average home price being paid here is approx. R 1.3m – which is 4.9% higher than it was last year and they are generally not buying for the first time – thus able to put down a substantial deposit derived from the sale of their previous home. The average deposit from buyers aged between 40 /50 years old was around R 250 000, whilst that paid by the over 60s was over R 700 000. Buyers with significant deposits are more likely to qualify for a home loan – however it becomes increasingly difficult if they are over the age of 60, unless backed by passive income or other investments.

The over 60s are also looking to downsize generally and are now known for buying “jewel box” homes – small opulent properties with state-of-the-art kitchens and elegant, modern indoor and outdoor spaces.
The growing retirement property industry is also of interest to investors of a much younger age – looking to rent out property until they retire. Due to the massive demand for top quality retirement properties in South Africa, it is typical for such to see additional capital growth per annum.

The trend is now for young professionals who are looking for investments, to purchase in a mature lifestyle estate with the intention of securing not only a long-term investment but also the ideal lifestyle for their parents to enjoy with access to care facilities and assisted living should they require.

Sandra Gordon, Pam Golding Properties Senior Research Analyst says : “Retirees also are moving away from the traditional retirement home model and opting for flexible, active living within a residential community that includes health care benefits and amenities for leisure activities.”

Peet Strauss, PGP’s Johannesburg Development Manager says: “Today’s older generation is remaining not only young at heart but pursuing a host of sports activities and travelling options. He says estates like Heritage Estate in Modderfontein are a good example of what owners and /or investors are looking for these days. Investors of any age may buy units but residents have to be over the age of 50 to reside there. The units are sectional title and do not follow the life-rights model. TruCare Age Well Solutions offers assisted living and primary health care in Heritage House – built in 1910 and now being renovated to house the common areas – Dining hall, Library, Cards room, Gentleman’s Bar etc for resident’s use.

Units start at R 1 325 000 and levies are about 1.5% of the purchase price p.a. Besides the location between OR Tambo and Sandton/Midrand and Pretoria, the apartment and simplex units offer a modern lock-up-and-go option with sate of the art security and a healthcare service including both primary and assisted living options.