Soon-to-be retirees are at risk of exhausting their retirement savings early and aren’t adequately planning for changing income needs in later life, according to new research from Standard Life.

A quarter (25 per cent) of those aged 55-64 who are still working say they are only budgeting for their retirement income to last ten years or less, despite a current average life expectancy of 82 years*.

One in ten (12 per cent) are planning for their retirement income to support them for just one to five years.

John Tait, Retirement Advice Specialist at Standard Life, said: “Your long-term retirement income needs can be hard to predict. The ongoing uncertainty brought on by the pandemic has only made that even more challenging.

“Many people are struggling to think more than five or ten years ahead, meaning they’re not only at risk of not saving enough for retirement, but also might not be taking into account how their needs could change.”

Standard Life’s research found that three in ten (29 per cent) of over 55s still working expect to need the same amount of money each year throughout their retirement.

Meanwhile, just over a quarter (27 per cent) aren’t sure of their retirement income needs and how they will change over the years. Women are more unsure than men of their annual income needs in retirement, with a third (31 per cent) reporting uncertainty around future income requirements, compared to 22 per cent of men.

John continued: “Some people will spend more in their early years as they travel or treat themselves with a big purchase, meaning their income needs will probably flatten out over time. However, costs can also rise in later life, driven by factors such as care needs or assisted living.

“When preparing to retire as an individual we recommend ensuring you have an income to support you until age 95, or to age 90 if you are planning your finances as a couple. That might seem like an excessive age to base a plan on, but the reality is people are living longer and one in four people approaching retirement now can expect to live until then.

“Thinking about how your life might change in the future may also help you develop a better picture of how much you may need and how much you can spend in the early years. Do you want to spend more now and less in the future? Working with a financial planner can help you make these short-term decisions with greater confidence about the long-term impacts.”

Despite the uncertainty around future financial requirements among those nearing retirement age, Standard Life’s research also found that 80 per cent of over 55s haven’t yet sought financial advice in relation to their retirement income needs, with 46 per cent having no intention to.

John concluded: “Taking financial advice from an expert adviser can be helpful when it comes to thoroughly planning for retirement. They can assess your income sources and savings, consider your retirement goals and, perhaps most importantly, explore what costs you might need to prepare for in the future.

“Anticipating all possible costs well in advance can help you feel more comfortable about spending the money you’ve worked so hard to save, and needn’t adversely affect your retirement plans – you might even have more available than you think.” You can find out more about Retirement Advice here.


*ONS National Life Expectancies for the UK (published September 2020) indicate that, for the latest figures available, an individual at age 55 can be expected to live a further 27.07 years. An individual at age 64 can be expected to live a further 19.55 years.

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Standard Life polled 1,000 UK adults over the age of 55 who are still working. Research was carried out in partnership with 3Gem in February 2021.

About Retirement Advice from Standard Life

Retirement Advice from Standard Life is an advice solution which combines the benefits of traditional face to face advice with the convenience of digital.

By analysing key financial information, such as pension value, wages and investments, Retirement Advice from Standard Life can provide users approaching retirement with a monthly income overview and full financial planning recommendations.

The quick start service allows users to view their retirement income, see how it might change if they alter their retirement age, pension contributions or drawdown. This can be accessed 24 hours a day, is completely free and has no minimum income or wealth requirements. At this point no advice is provided.

For more information, please visit:

About Standard Life

  • The value of investments can go down as well as up, and may be worth less than originally invested.
  • At Standard Life, we’ve been helping customers with their life savings for nearly 200 years.
  • Today the Standard Life brand is trusted by over 4.5m customers, helping them to manage their life savings so that they and their families can enjoy a better future.
  • Customers come to us through advisers, through their employers and direct to Standard Life.
  • We know that customers need more support than ever to make important financial decisions, so we use our expertise to help them get good advice and make better financial choices for their future. And our close relationship with Aberdeen Standard Investments allows us access to world-class investment solutions.
  • In the UK, our Award Winning Wrap and Elevate Platforms are used by financial advisers to provide financial planning and wealth management services to their clients.
  • Through Standard Life Assurance Limited, we offer a range of high quality products for workplace pensions, personal pensions, savings, investments and retirement. These are sold in the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria. Standard Life Assurance Limited is owned by Phoenix Group and uses the Standard Life brand under licence from the Standard Life Aberdeen Group.
  • Ultimately we want to help customers make good choices with their life savings, whether they are saving throughout their working lives, enjoying financial security in retirement or planning to pass wealth on to loved ones.
  • We believe that experience matters, customers need us and together we will succeed. Collectively we believe this means that there’s a lot to look forward to.

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