New Aviva research reveals €1.9 trillion European pensions gap
22 September, 2010
Analysis confirms that saving more and earlier will have a significant positive impact on retirement income.Europe’s current workforce faces a seriously reduced standard of living once they retire unless they increase their pension saving. The alternative is to rely on non-pension assets, retire later or work in retirement.Despite the size of the pensions gap, individuals can make a significant positive impact to their retirement income by saving more and saving earlier.Aviva calls for a robust partnership between the insurance industry and Government to create a stronger savings culture and improve consumer confidence in planning for retirement.Aviva makes four recommendations to build a more secure platform for individuals to plan for retirement: create a European Quality Standard for Pensions, review measures for encouraging saving, governments to issue regular individual pension statements and establish a Pensions Savings Target at national levels.Europe’s annual ”pensions gap” stands at €1.9 trillion, according to the results of the first comprehensive analysis of the region’s retirement landscape by leading European insurer Aviva. The pensions gap is equivalent to 19% of the European Union’s 2010 GDP and indicates that unless individuals increase their saving for retirement the majority will face a seriously reduced standard of living once they retire. At a country level in absolute terms, the UK, France, Germany and Spain have the largest national pensions gaps.
Aviva’s research assessed the gap between the savings that people retiring between 2011 and 2051 will need in order to maintain their standard of living in retirement* and actual provision available across the 27 EU member states. It indicates that without action today to save more many EU citizens will be forced to accept a combination of:
Relying on non-pension assets. Aviva estimates that non-pension assets, such as property, held by EU citizens may fund as little as 20% of the pensions gapRetiring later. Increasing the retirement age by 10 years would reduce the pensions gap to €841billion. It will help, but it will not solve the problem on its ownWorking in retirement. Already, some countries such as the UK expect to see the number of people working beyond retirement age double in the next 10 years. This trend looks set to continueAccepting a significantly reduced standard of living. However, living on 50% of pre-retirement income in retirement still leaves a €669 billion pensions gap.Aviva’s analysis also shows that:
The pensions gap is most severe for those within 10 years of the state retirement age. These individuals will not have time to build up adequate savings to close the pensions gap before retirement and will need to consider drawing on non-pension assets, working longer or lowering their expectations in retirement.The picture is brighter for younger savers. For example, a 40 year old in the UK will need to increase annual savings by an average of €3,700 to close their personal pensions gap. A 40 year old in Spain must save €2,900 a year to close their pensions gap yet this figure falls by more than half to €1,200 a year for a Spanish 20 year old, equivalent to just 6% of their average disposable income.There are important differences between European countries. Western European countries tend to have higher pensions gaps due to larger populations and higher levels of pre-retirement income. By contrast in Central and Eastern Europe the research demonstrates that individuals require a lower increase in annual savings, partly explained by lower salaries and wide ranging reform to pension systems over the last two decades.Aviva’s research outlines recommendations to address the pensions gapAviva calls on European policy-makers to work in partnership with the private sector to create a greater savings culture across the region and build a more secure platform for individuals to plan for their retirement through:
The creation of a European Quality Standard for Pensions to demonstrate the quality and security of products, facilitate comparability and increase consumer confidence.Establish a European Pensions Savings Target, variable by country.Issuing of regular pension statements to all citizens to encourage consumers to consider the state pension as only part of a mixed strategy for providing for their retirement.Governments review the effectiveness of existing incentive schemes for pensions saving, their impact and visibility and whether they are appropriately communicated and targeted. Andrea Moneta, chief executive of Aviva EMEA, said: “We cannot ignore the fact that longer life expectancy brings with it new challenges for governments, individuals and industry. All relevant stakeholders should ensure that life is not just longer, but richer in every sense.
“Individuals and governments face a pensions gap challenge but saving more and saving earlier will significantly help increase retirement income.
“It’s time for a fresh approach – a partnership between the European Commission, national governments and the insurance industry to develop a stronger savings culture. Measures taken recently by national governments and the publication of the Pensions Green Paper by the European Commission are positive steps but we need more and to turn new ideas into actions quickly.
“Adopting Aviva’s four recommendations – creating a European Quality Standard for Pensions, reviewing national measures for encouraging saving, issuing regular pension statements and establishing a Pensions Savings Target at a national level – will help build a more secure platform for individuals to plan for their retirement.