Retirees looking to make the most of their golden years should set their sights on Europe, according to a new report by Natixis Global Asset Management.
While eight European countries – Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Sweden Denmark, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg -- took the top 10 spots out of 150 countries surveyed, the report nonetheless highlighted a general concern with the state of retirement provisions worldwide.
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Switzerland topped the poll for its high standards of living, low taxes and an excellent healthcare system as well as a strong public and private pension system. Neighbouring Austria – often seen as a cheaper alternative to Switzerland in terms of living costs – also has a high standard of living and exceptional healthcare system.
Individuals are being encouraged to take personal responsibility for their retirement prospects, such as amassing private savings. Top heavy populations coupled with public debt, austerity measures and other fiscal pressures mean governments of the future will struggle to guarantee a comfortable retirement for citizens.
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Core European nations tended to outdo their peripheral counterparts; with the latter bitten by the Euro zone's austerity measures. Ireland, Cyprus and Spain came in at 24th, 25th and 29th respectively.
The reports' rising stars included New Zealand, Iceland and Korea who climbed furthest in the ranking.
New Zealand rose thirteen places to take ninth place – as one of the two non-European nations to make it into the top 10. Lighter taxpressures and better performing bank loans boosted its performance in the finances in retirement category.
South Korea was up 10 places to 17th and was buoyed by a favourable interest rate environment and low levels of government debt.
The U.S. trailed behind in 19th place behind other developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Korea and the Czech Republic. In the U.S., the 401(k) retirement plan lets users save and invest as they go. Individuals generally save alone however employers can match or contribute a percentage of an employee's salary.
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The report highlights the increased onus on the individual to make retirement provisions. Governments are increasingly squeezed, with debt, inflation and fiscal policies creating risks that could profoundly affect the financial security of retirees worldwide. On top of this they also faced a growing aging population.
"Investors need to plan to do more on their own," said said Hervé Guinamant, President and CEO for International Distribution at Natixis Global Asset Management. "And the asset management industry must adapt by providing the tools investors need to build portfolios that put risk first, minimize volatility and help meet their long-term savings goals."
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