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How factors other than assets can affect retirement preparation

How factors other than assets can affect retirement preparation

Posted October. 15, 2012 03:34,   


Ryoo Pil-gye, 56, vice president of LG U+, and Lee Sang-gil, 54, a vice minister of the Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, are baby boomers born between 1955 and 1963.

Both have had successful careers, Ryoo in the private sector and Lee in the government. They each have almost perfect financial portfolios for life after retirement, but are their preparations for their silver years going to be enough?

○ VP or vice minister vs. maintenance director

Ryoo received 100 points in a financial preparation index while Lee got 82.5 points. Compared to the average of 51.5 percent, they are financially well prepared for retirement, with Lee`s assets worth 1.1 billion won (990,000 U.S. dollars) and Ryoo`s being more.

Comprehensive indexes on their retirement preparations, however, showed not-so-high scores in a joint study by Samsung Life Retirement Research Center and Seoul National University`s Translational Gerontology and Retirement Research Center. Ryoo received 65.4 points on the comprehensive index to preparation for retirement while Lee got 64.9 points, and the gap between their scores and the average of 58.3 significantly narrowed.

In Ryoo`s case, he said he had no idea what to do after retirement. He received 46 points for job preparation after retirement, which was lower than the average of 51.1. “I’m very satisfied with the work I’m doing now, and I haven`t thought about what to do after retirement,” he said.

On the other hand, Lee said he had no idea how he would spend his leisure time after retirement. He got 46.3 points for leisure time preparation, which was also lower than the average of 56.1. He said he goes mountain trekking once or twice a month and takes a walk with his wife at night from time to time. He claimed to have no favorite hobby. On how much he enjoys his leisure activities that he does now, he answered "So so."

Moon In-seon, 55, heads the management office of an apartment complex in Wonju, Gangwon Province. Along with savings, he has his own home worth 150 million won (135,000 dollars) and two other small units he purchased for his sons are estimated at 160 million won (144,000 dollars). Considering his entire assets, Moon has about 200 million won (180,000 dollars) to spend on his silver years. Compared to the average range of available assets from more than 200 million won and less than 300 million won (270,000 dollars) according to this study, he has less money for retirement.

Moon, however, said he lives a happier life than most people. Discharged as an Army major in 1998, he took on the apartment management job and began competing in badminton tournaments every weekend with his wife.

In the Army, he worked as a transportation officer and utilizing this experience, he drove a taxi for nine years after his discharge. But he opted to change his career again because he grew tired of the mundane routine of driving a cab. After five months of study, he passed the exam for managing an apartment complex. He used to enjoy tennis but took up badminton to play with his wife.

○ Too busy to prepare for retirement

On seeing the results showing their lack of preparation for post-retirement work and leisure time, both Ryoo and Lee said they have no time to prepare. Ryoo said, “I don’t know when I’ll retire, but there’s no need to think about work (when I have so many things to tend to).” Lee asked, “Is it really possible to think about how to spend leisure time after retirement when every day is like war?”

A big reason many baby boomers lack preparation for post-retirement work, they believe they have time until they must devise such plans. Samsung Life said, “Most people retire when they have no specific plan for life after retirement...Many retire earlier than expected and this causes many to be unprepared for retirement.”

What type of people can be happy without sufficient funds? Samsung Life said, “We’ve analyzed 94 people whose comprehensive index on retirement preparation fell in the upper 30-percent range despite their financial preparation status being lower than the average. Their indexes on work, housing and health were more than 13 points higher than the averages. The results show that happy people have their own homes, jobs and good health.”

Among the 94 surveyed, 53.8 percent had assets worth under 200 million won (180,000 dollars), lower than the average of 45.35 percent. These people, however, spent less by living outside of the Seoul metropolitan area and in provincial cities such as Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon. Despite their smaller assets, they were living relatively well off with similar incomes and spending within the averages. Among them, the self-employed outnumbered those working for employers. On their health status, 11.7 percent answered "very good," which was higher than the average of 4.11 percent. Those who answered "good" accounted for 73.4 percent, much higher than the average of 50.11 percent.

Goh Hye-jin, a senior researcher at Samsung Life, said, “Though less affluent, these people have a positive outlook on life and enthusiastically prepare for their later years...Instead of assets, they have alternatives to utilize as assets to live a happy and healthy retirement.”

nuk@donga.com weappon@donga.com