Third of older working Kiwis can't afford to quit

Paul Buist (75) says working helps him tick off his bucket list and travel to see family overseas. Photo: NZ Herald
Paul Buist (75) says working helps him tick off his bucket list and travel to see family overseas. Photo: NZ Herald

Nearly a third of Kiwis still working after 65 say they have to do so to pay the bills, according to new research.

It comes after an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report that found New Zealand has one of the least generous pensions relative to the working wage.

BNZ's Financial Futures study has found that 46% of Kiwis plan to keep working beyond 65. And while the majority of workers over 65 were still on the job because of the value and satisfaction it gave them, 31% said they needed to work for financial reasons.

Paul Carter, director of retail and marketing at the BNZ, said the gap between those who choose to work in retirement and those who have to was too high and it sent a message to younger people not to be complacent.

"There's a real opportunity for people to narrow that gap by being more proactive
about planning their finances."

The OECD report 2017 Pensions at a Glance out this month found retirees in the Netherlands receive more than 100% of their country's average working wage but Kiwi superannuitants get just 43% - ranking us 6th worst equal with Australia.

Under the Labour-led Government the age of eligibility for superannuation is set to stay at 65.

But the report warned that unless there were more people employed in older age, the ageing population would "generate lower pension levels", reducing wellbeing during retirement.

Last week visiting expert David Harris said New Zealand was lagging behind other countries in reviewing its retirement policy.

New Zealand already has one of the highest percentages of people continuing to work beyond 65.

Census figures from 2013 show that more than half of men aged 65 to 69 are still working - up from 30% in 2001.

Fewer women in that age group continue to work, but the proportion has increased from 15% in 2001 to 35%.

Figures from the latest Census are not yet available.

Carter said it was no surprise people were working longer.

"Many people are fitter and healthier in their 60s and 70s than previous generations and more are keen to keep working for longer."

Of those who planned to work, only 18% wanted to work full-time with 31% preferring a full-time job.

The research found 72% were confident they would pay off their mortgage before they retire or semi-retire despite a growing number of people taking out a mortgage at a later age.

Others planned to pay off their loan by selling up and buying a cheaper house, using savings or dividends from investments.

The bank could not provide data on what percentage of its over-65 customers still had a mortgage.

Carter said the key to being prepared was to have a financial plan and that started with knowing about any shortfall between income and outgoings and adjusting for it.

He also urged people to pay down their debts and have a savings plan.

"Make sure you have KiwiSaver and make sure you are in the right fund," he said.

Banker enjoys job and has no intention of retiring

For 75-year-old Paul Buist going to work is something he looks forward to every day.

Buist, who is an agri-business banker for the BNZ in Hamilton, had only recently dropped down to three days a week after working full-time at the bank for the last 26 years.

He doesn't need to work for financial reasons but said he enjoyed making a contribution to his customers and the bank.

"I could stop now," he says. "I'm in a pretty good position."

"But I look forward to work each day."

Buist said he considered retiring at 65 but decided to keep working, a move which helped him tick off his bucket list and travel to see family overseas.

He decided to drop down his hours recently to spend more time working on his farm in Te Kuiti and with family.

But he had no plans to retire fully in the immediate future.

"Something could come up tomorrow but at this stage I would like to continue in the medium term."

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