Attention Asian couples: You may need to add up to 11 years to your retirement plan in order to live your golden years in comfort, Manulife warns.
A new report from the life insurer suggests that married couples in Asia significantly under-plan their retirements as they fail to factor in the chance of one partner outliving the other, which increases longevity risk – the chance of a retiree outliving their savings.
Manulife's research indicates that couples can reduce longevity risk if they delay retirement or add 8 to 11 more years into their financial planning.
"Asia is getting old at an unprecedented pace while life expectancy in the region is rising to remarkable levels from a low base. Familial financial support, which has been the bedrock of retirement income security, is also splintering," Michael Dommermuth, president of international asset management at Manulife Asset Management said on Thursday.
Four of the six countries with the highest life expectancies at birth are in Asia. Macau, Japan and Singapore have average expectancies of 84 years, while Hong Kong's average is 82 years, data from the CIA World Factbook show.
Married couples spend an average of 50-75 percent of their retirement together. According to Dommermuth, one partner – usually the wife given longer life expectancies for women – will likely spend 7 to 10 years alone.
Taiwan faces the highest longevity risk due to an above-average life expectancy gap between males and females, Manulife said. Thailand ranked second, due to a low mandatory retirement age. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Vietnam had the lowest risks due to relatively short life expectancies. Despite high life expectancies, Singapore and Japan also have low longevity risks due to rising elderly labor force participation.
The insurer asked 4,000 investors across Asia how long they thought they could live off of their retirement savings. Survey results diverged sharply with retirement lifecycle forecasts based on Manulife's Asia Retirement Duration Model (ADRM).
The report said increased longevity risks also pose obstacles for governments.
"Governments are under pressure to raise retirement ages and elderly labor participation rates. Every country is going to experience population declines by the turn of the century, which means labor force declines," said Dommermuth.
While Asia boasts a fantastic savings rate, Dommermuth noted households must consider where they hold their savings.
"Our research shows that roughly 50 percent or more of household financial assets across the region are going into bank deposits. Once those rates are adjusted for inflation and personal tax rates, they are negative in almost any country. Only Japan has benefitted due to deflation, which is now changing under Abenomics," he told CNBC.