Expats in UAE not saving enough for retirement

Pedro Gonçalves
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Expats in UAE not saving enough for retirement

Most expats in the UAE have no realistic plans for securing a comfortable lifestyle when they retire, according to a survey by Friends Provident International and YouGov.  

According to the survey, less than half of expats in the UAE are regularly saving for their retirement despite many expecting to stop work when they reach 55.

While the research shows that overall more than one third of respondents (34%) expect to be retired by the time they reach the age of 55, and more than half (53%) before they are 60, only 48% are currently saving regularly for their retirement.

Perhaps even more worryingly, 58% of people only intend saving for up to 10 years before they retire. That is unlikely to give them enough time to build a retirement fund that is sufficient to sustain them in what should be their golden years"

Furthermore, only one-third of respondents have an investment portfolio set aside to provide an income in retirement. Of the respondents that said they have a retirement portfolio, around half (53%) claimed the value of their investments was less than $50,000 and three-quarters (76%) said the value was less than $100,000.

When asked where they expect to retire, four-fifths (81%) said they would return to their home country and the remainder to another country. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UAE were cited as the most popular retirement destinations for those not intending to return home.

Less than one-third (32%) of respondents said they are entitled to a state pension in their home country - a further 16% were not sure they would qualify, and 52% said they will not be entitled to a pension when they retire.

Chris Divito, managing director Middle East and Africa at FPI, said, it is concerning that while 75% of respondents expect to be retired by the time they are 65, less than half are currently saving regularly for their retirement.  

"Of the people that are saving regularly, only one third are putting aside up to 10% of their monthly income. Perhaps even more worryingly, 58% of people only intend saving for up to 10 years before they retire. That is unlikely to give them enough time to build a retirement fund that is sufficient to sustain them in what should be their golden years," Divito said. 

He added that base on the research, unless they take some drastic action to address the need for robust retirement planning, many expats in the UAE are going to fall some way short of achieving the comfortable retirement.

Divito said: "With no official retirement scheme for expats in the UAE, it is vital that people take personal responsibility for making sure that they can afford to survive life after work. People are clearly not saving enough - and are not starting to save early enough - to give themselves a chance of enjoying a financially independent retirement."

Based on FPI research, many expats in the UAE are going to fall some way short of achieving the comfortable retirement plans. 

In terms of the monthly income, respondents are targeting post-retirement, overall, three quarters (74%) said they are looking to secure an income of between $1,000 and $4,000 per month. Half said they were targeting an income of between $1,000 and $2,000 per month and a quarter (24%) said between $3,000 and $4,000 per month.  

When asked who they approach for financial advice just 12%  said they used the services of a financial adviser, while three times as many (35%) turn to friends and family. A quarter said they do their own research and financial planning online.