Prudential study finds couples over 40 avoid discussing retirement and finances

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Research by Prudential finds one in five couples over the age of 40 haven't discussed retirement plans in the last five years whilst only one in ten have sought financial advice together.

New research from Prudential has found one in five (19 per cent) of couples over the age of 40 have avoided discussing their retirement plans in the last five years while one in 10 (11 per cent) have never discussed it.

The lack of retirement conversations extends to having professional financial advice together. Only one in 10 couples over the age of 40 have seen a financial adviser jointly in the past five years to discuss their retirement plans, while 14 per cent admit that they or their partner have seen a financial adviser alone to discuss retirement planning.

The research results also show that avoiding discussions around retirement planning can lead to a mismatch in how much money each half of a couple expects to live on in retirement. When asked separately to estimate the couple's expected joint retirement income, men said £35,100 on average and women £32,000.

Prudential's research also found that couples avoid discussing their finances in general. Six per cent admit they have never discussed their finances together and a further 12 per cent have not discussed money for over a year.

Despite sharing a life together, many couples are also reluctant to lay their financial cards on the table. Around 25 per cent keep their current accounts entirely separate, 30 per cent hold savings in separate accounts and 23 per cent maintain separate investments.

This behaviour could stem from a fear that financial conversations will spark arguments. Money is the third most likely subject to cause disagreement among couples, with almost a quarter (23 per cent) admitting they fight more about finances than they do about socialising (13 per cent), work (10 per cent), or politics and religion (7 per cent). Family issues (33 per cent) and household chores (27 per cent) top the most likely arguments list.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: "For any couple, discussing and agreeing on the best retirement income options for them is as important as keeping their day-to-day finances in order. A joint conversation with a financial adviser or retirement specialist could be an important step in ensuring that the right pension-saving decisions are made, so that both partners can enjoy a comfortable retirement. There is also plenty of free information available from independent organisations such as the Money Advice Service.

“It’s easy for couples to put off conversations about finances, particularly longer-term issues like retirement planning, because it’s difficult to see any short-term impact. But our research has highlighted some worrying trends, in particular the fact that nearly one in five couples approaching retirement, in the 45 to 54 age group, have never discussed jointly their plans for income in later life.

"Avoiding the conversation is just likely to create a bigger issue in the longer term, so having open, frequent and early conversations about retirement planning really can help couples to remain financially secure."    

About Prudential:

Prudential plc is an international financial services group with significant operations in Asia, the US and the UK. We serve more than 23 million customers and have £427 billion of assets under management. We are listed on stock exchanges in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York.

The Group is structured around four main business units: Prudential Corporation Asia, Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Prudential UK and M&G.

Prudential uses long-term thinking to create long-term value. Through our strong financial performance and international strategy, we create financial benefits for our shareholders and investors and deliver economic and social benefits for the communities in which we operate.

In the UK we are a leading life and pensions provider with approximately 7 million customers.

M&G is Prudential's UK and European fund management business with total assets under management of £234 billion (as at 30 June 2013).

Notes to editors

1)    Research conducted by Consumer Intelligence, 2nd – 8th October 2013 amongst 1,996 adults over 40 years of age who currently live with their spouse or partner.

2)     Radio interviews via ISDN or Audioboo can be arranged on request.

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Ben Davies