Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Retirement planning encompasses much more than just ensuring we have enough set aside to sustain our retirement. But for retirees and soon-to-be retirees, it is the bread-and-butter issues that concern us most. Given the longer life span of 75 and early retirement age of 55 (private sector) and 58 (public sector), will our retirement savings run out before we do?

At the recently concluded "Everyone Can Retire Well" conference organized by FPAM, industry experts were on hand to share their views and offer suggestions to conference delegates comprising financial planning practitioners, policy-makers, financial services and product providers, academics and NGOs.

Below are screen shots taken from the speakers' presentations. These are solely for educational purposes and to raise awareness of retirement issues that affect all of us. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Above: Questions we should all ask ourselves when planning our retirement. An excellent guide to help us through the process, presented by ReMark's Senior Client Director K. Sasitharan.

Above: An in-depth presentation from Syed Hamadah Othman, senior consultant with Mercer Zainal Consulting. Very well researched, with plenty of food for thought. Nothing like a wake-up call to set our retirement planning wheel in motion. To find out more about the multi-pillar pension scheme, click here. Highly recommended viewing.

Above: Pricewaterhouse Coopers Senior Executive Director Khoo Chuan Keat shared his wealth of knowledge on Malaysia's tax system, and updated participants on current exemptions and reliefs. Check out his proposals on how the government can create a more conducive tax environment for sustainable retirement. Definitely the way forward. Let's hope policy-makers take note.

Above: Anthony Boon of IPP Financial Advisers, Singapore, spoke on how to manage the retirement planning market. Semi-retired at 42 after making his fortune in the industry, his words certainly carried credibility with many of the participants.

After the first panel discussion. From left: MP Tony Pua, Tan Kim Book, K. Sasitharan, co-organising chairman Tan Beng Wah, and Teh Loo Hai, consultant with LIAM.

There were two panel discussions. The first one "Is there a need for national health insurance for retirees?" was lively with participants giving the panelists a tough time with their questions on implementation and transparency issues.

If the second panel discussion was meant to be a summing up of the conference, it did not quite succeed. As stated in the panel notes, there are at least six dimensions to retiring well. The panelists - UM Prof of Psychology Dr Low Wah Yun, UPM Institute of Gerontology Asso Prof Dr Tengku Aizan, author and CEO of RD Wealth Creation Rajen Devadason and CEO of CIMB Islamic Bank Badlisyah Abdul Ghani spoke on their respective areas of expertise. Missing were experts on the dimensions of spiritual, social, occupational and intellectual well-being. Coming at the end of the final day of the conference, it was not surprising that the second panel discussion attracted only about 150 partcipants.

Briefing media representatives at the press conference. From left: FPAM past president Steve Teoh, Deputy President Tan Beng Wah, President Wong Boon Choy and CEO Chan Chow Hun. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Did the 2-day conference meet the following objectives?
  • raising public awareness of the need for retirement planning
  • addressing the challenges faced by an ageing community
  • providing an avenue for the various stakeholders and industry players to work together
  • exploring best practices for a better retirement environment
The answer is Yes to all the above. However, there is always room for improvement should the organizers decide to make the conference an annual event. For a start, images used for the conference and for marketing purposes should be multi-generational. This would effectively send home the message that retirement conferences are meant for all age groups, not only retirees and pensioners. After all, the point to be made is that everyone CAN retire well provided they start planning early.

A free public talk on "Why Everyone Needs a Will" by Azhar Iskandar Hew, GM of Rockwills Trustee Bhd.

Having free public talks to run concurrently with paid-for talks may give the wrong impression that the former are conducted by industry juniors and may not be worth attending. Which is most unfortunate as it is not the case at all. In fact the feedback I got from those who attended the talks was positive, with many saying they had learned a lot from the talks on will-writing, credit card management, real estate and investing.

The organizers might also want to consider offering special rates for senior citizens and full-time students from institutes of higher education. If the primary aim is to educate, then it makes sense to reach out to as many demographic groups as possible.

Changing mindset is the biggest challenge for any organizers of events aimed at raising awareness. It remains to be seen whether FPAM has succeeded on this score.

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