The Chinese certainly had a knack for telling it like it is.
And while we certainly don’t know exactly what the future holds, we do know that we are all living longer and as a result can look forward to many more years in retirement than previous generations. That’s both good news and bad news and it’s certainly not great news if you haven’t prepared. So what should you be doing? The first step is to start thinking about retirement and your later years so that you’ll be as comfortable as possible when the time comes. To do that you need to begin planning your financial future.
But when is a good time to start planning for retirement?
To be honest, the perception that most of us have is that retirement planning is only for those in their forties or fifties and even then, if we never get around to it, somehow the State will always support us - won’t they? In fact, the harsh reality that many are discovering is that the ‘State’ will not be able to maintain our lifestyle in retirement and governments are actually encouraging us all to make our own independent arrangements. So, the answer is to start planning NOW! The sooner we can start saving, the longer we have to build up a retirement fund.
What prevents us from starting?
So, what prevents us from starting to save in our early years for what is an inevitable event even if it is some way off into the future?
Often it’s affordability or because we have other aspirations or things to do with the money. It may even be because in the past we’ve had ‘our fingers burnt’ and now we simply do not trust the financial services industry in general. Unfortunately the retirement industry hasn’t helped; everyone seems to have a story about a pension sales consultant overly keen to sell a product. Not surprising then that we’re often suspicious that the only reason a salesman talks to us is to make a commission. And if you accept that there’s a commission, you can be forgiven for wondering, ‘what proportion of the payments I make is actually being invested on my behalf?’
To add to all this, lately we seem to hear continually about stock market volatility, countries defaulting on debt repayments and retirement ages being increased - all gloomy pictures of something almost too painful to think about. But as serious as these things are, you cannot allow anything to become an excuse to avoid planning for your retirement. We can’t all rely on an employer to help fund our retirement.
The situation is even more difficult for people working internationally - there are even more considerations and options when choosing a pension plan. As an estimated 90% of world trade is carried out on ships, seafarers are essential to international trade and the international trade system. For ship owners the introduction of the Maritime Labour Convention ("MLC") 2006 is just months away and will introduce uniformity and regulations across such areas as safety at sea and employee benefit requirements.
The MLC stresses the need for employers to be thinking more about their maritime employees; if you employ crew, the MLC is very serious business indeed. And as a natural follow on employers will be encouraged to consider the provision of complimentary pension and retirement benefits. It’s a fact that as the global economy expands more people than ever are working away from their home territories, and when they do very often leave domestic retirement programs behind. Over the years the offshore financial services industry has developed a range of solutions designed to meet the retirement planning needs of internationally mobile employees.
Help is at hand
But this often requires special planning guidance and sadly the vast majority are oblivious or simply do not know where to find help. The good news is that help is at hand. Today, internationally mobile employees have access to solutions with transparent charging structures, which are flexible, linked to offshore investment funds and are available in a number of currencies including US Dollar, Euro and British Pound Sterling. Furthermore, modern solutions can also offer 24/7 access to interactive websites helping you to manage your account from wherever you are located.
In conclusion, retirement planning is more important today than it has ever been but letting past prejudices or fears cloud your judgement could prove very foolish. Don’t miss the boat by waiting until it’s too late. Finding a good international solution that best fits your current circumstances will put you on course towards a financially secure future.
Moore Stephens Isle of Man is an independent member firm of Moore Stephens International Limited. Moore Stephens International Limited is regarded as one of the world's leading accounting and consulting networks with 624 member and correspondent offices in some 101 countries.
Moore Stephens Retirement Solutions Limited is a company incorporated in the Isle of Man No 123460C and is registered with the Isle of Man Insurance and Pensions Authority as a Professional Retirement Benefits Schemes Administrator. To learn more about our international retirement planning solutions, please contact me on +44 (0) 1624 662020, [email protected] or skype 'paul.morter.msiom'.