I recently read in an article on PFAs in Nigeria that most Nigerians do not have up to N500,000 in their retirement accounts. If that is true, it is saddening and points to a retirement savings crisis. Many people (Nigerians and non-Nigerians) do not want to think of or hear the word retirement because they are either not prepared or ill-prepared, at best.
But unless one dies young, retirement must come, and prepared or not, you will face the consequences of retirement and the lack of earning capacity that comes with it. If there is anything that should make anyone in Nigeria think about retirement and think about it seriously, it is the long queues of retirees waiting to be paid, some of them fainting and dying in the process. A picture, they say, is worth more than a thousand words.
When I saw the images and videos of Nigerian retirees sitting and lying on the ground as they “camped at Benue Government House”, I did not need to read the story to know how desperate the situation was. That images served as visual aids for a news article that appeared in the 12th September 2019 edition of Punch Newspaper titled, “Pension pains: Aged retirees camp at Benue Government House.”
Unemployment has made matters worse
Nigerians were not used to saving for retirement in the past because parents had always expected that their children would take care of them at old age. But with the alarmingly high rate of unemployment in the country, that thinking seems to have gone from reality to wishful thinking. Even at that, those who managed to save for retirement then did so through their workplaces under the defined benefit obligation scheme.
Unlike in those days when Nigerians had to save for retirement through the Defined Benefit obligation type of pension scheme, the pension reform of 2014 brought in the defined contribution scheme, which many have argued is better than the former.
A part of the reforms that have taken place in the Nigerian Pension Scheme is the introduction of voluntary contributions. By that introduction, the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 allows employees to make voluntary contributions into their Retirement Savings Accounts in addition to their mandatory pension contributions. The objectives of the voluntary contribution scheme are to help employees to enhance their retirement benefits, to encourage retirees under the CPS, and to utilize part or all the voluntary contributions to augment their existing pension.
What is voluntary contribution?
Voluntary contribution is the non-obligatory contributions made by employees in the formal sector through their employers. In addition to voluntary contribution, the reform allows for additional voluntary contribution which is “non-obligatory contributions made by workers and retirees through the employer towards enhancing their pensions.”
Why make additional voluntary contribution?
There is need and reason for employees to take advantage of the additional voluntary contribution scheme. Some of the reasons include:
To protect against inflation: Inflation was on a downward spiral until recently when it spiked again in October. In spite of the downward trend in inflation, one obvious thing is that inflation, no matter how small, eats into your retirement savings. Additional Voluntary Contribution is one of the ways to boost your retirement savings by countering the effects of inflation.
Flexibility and choice: Another reason to engage in additional voluntary contribution is its flexibility and ease. All you need to do is inform your employer to make the required deductions from your pay for whatever additional voluntary contribution you want to make. The amount of voluntary contribution, unlike mandatory contribution, is not set in stone. Voluntary contribution can be any amount of your choice, so far as it is not more than one-third of your monthly salary and it comes from legitimate income. Because it is not mandatory, you decide on the frequency of the contribution, either monthly or quarterly.
Tax advantage: Voluntary contribution is better than an ordinary savings account in that the contribution is deducted from your salary, which makes it convenient and the deduction is before tax, which also reduces your tax liability. If you are patient enough to leave the voluntary contribution in the pension savings account for a minimum period of five years, you save even more on taxes because you do not get taxed at the point of withdrawal.
[READ ALSO: How to set your financial goals for 2020]
Financial discipline: When you have money in your pocket or in your bank account with unrestricted access, you may not be able to resist the urge to spend. But when you do not have it, or you have it in an account that comes with restrictions in terms of time or penalty, you tend to manage whatever you have in your unrestricted account. That is financial discipline. By moving money from your unrestricted account to the restricted account by way of voluntary contribution, you are not only helping to ensure a good life at retirement, but you are also helping to discipline yourself in financial management.
Retirement savings is not a luxury reserved for the rich and the crème de la crème, it is a necessity. It is a friend of time, and the earlier you start, the better. Save more now for better living tomorrow.
How to invest for retirement
Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today.
“If you plan to retire in five years what should you be doing today?” That’s a question I got last week, and talking with the client, a lot came up which I have decided to share.
First off, What is retirement?
Nigeria’s public service has an official retirement age of 60 or thirty-five years of unbroken active working service, but in financial planning, retirement is a financial, not a chronological event. Retirement can occur when your passive income can meet your non-discretionary expenses.
You start to plan for retirement the day you start to earn an income. Your retirement plan will centre on how to generate passive income and reduce expenses. In Financial Planning, Four distinct stages are usually described in a so-called Lifecycle Chart. These are the Accumulation, Consolidation, Spending, and Gifting stages. Chart 1. Financial LifeCycle seeks to segment investing priorities, recommended asset allocation, and risk profile in a chronological timeline as the person gets older. I will take each of these stages and explain how they are linked to your retirement plan.
Chart: Financial Life Cycle
Early years: Use Your Time and Make Money, (Accumulate)
The first stage is called the Accumulation stage. Imagine a 22-year-old who has just graduated and is a management trainee. He typically has a low credit score and assets and income are also substantially lower. What he has in abundance is time. So it’s important to deploy his time in the best way to make money. Hence in the accumulate stage, the goal is to generate cash flow either from a job, multiple jobs, working longer hours, saving, cutting unnecessary expenses, etc.
The key measure in the accumulation stage is the Savings Rate which is essentially how much of income earned or generated has not been spent. On average, the participants in the accumulation stage have fewer dependents and maintenance needs which should theoretically make it easier to save.
Mid Years Use Your Money To Buy Assets (Consolidation)
In the consolidation stage the focus shifts from saving to investing. At this stage, the income earned and credit scores have improved. This is when the talk of buying a home or starting a business takes concrete shape because, at this stage, those dreams can be funded. Hence capacity to take on debt is improved, and debt is used to invest in assets like a home. Remember debt is simply front-loaded consumption, which means we are taking our future income to invest today, intending to repay with future income generated from today investment.
The key measure in the consolidation stage is the Rate of Return which is essentially how much has been generated from the investments made.
Spending & Gifting Phase; Use Your Assets To Generate Cash Flow and Time (Spending and Gifting)
Why is it called the spending phase? Because that’s what the individual is doing, spending down accumulated investments. The spending will include buying annuities or perhaps relocating to another city, your dependant’s college needs, etc. At this stage, typically very few are still earning “new” income but are rather spending from the return of prior investments.
The key measure in the spending stage is the Withdrawal Rate which is essentially how much of investment can be withdrawn as cash annually to ensure we do not outlive our investments.
Retirement is All About Passive Income
Passive income, which is the income we are making from investing from the accumulation and consolidation stage is now sufficient to generate income and reduce expenses to meet our expenses in the spending/gifting stage.
To give an example, assume we took a mortgage to buy a house in the Consolidation Stage, in the Spending stage, we pay no rent, thus we save cash, which reduces our Non-Discretionary Expenses. In essence, retirement is planning to eliminate your future expenses to the point where you need less income when you retire.
What Should You Invest In Before Retirement Or In Retirement?
Our objective is simple, Income. In retirement, we invest solely to make income to meet our spending needs, Risk profile is also very low because there are fewer recovery options if your investments sink.
The retirement portfolio is an income-generating portfolio that will be overweight in fixed income products. First, determine what the risk-free rate is. In Nigeria, we can take the yield on a ten-year FGN bond as a guide, this means we can have a target of 10% as our huddle rate for the long term. Thus I will recommend an 80/20 portfolio with 80% going to Fixed Income consisting of long term bonds, REITs, and other top-grade commercial paper.
However what happens if we lock in our funds for 10 years at 10% and rates jump to 20%, meaning a loss to our portfolio. To avoid this risk we can create a bond ladder, where we break down the bulk sum and duration of our total bond investment outlay. Let us assume we have N10m in cash to invest, instead of one single lot investment of N10m, we split into 5 equal investments of N2m and place for 6, 7, 8, 9, and ten-year maturities. This means by the 5th year the first N2m will mature, if rates are higher, reinvest, if rates have fallen then reevaluate.
What about Equities
Yes, equities also pay a dividend. In buying equities, we must ensure we are only buying stocks that pay a dividend above our huddle rate of 10% which is the 10-year FGN bond rate. Which Nigerian stock meet that huddle rate?
- GT bank
- United cap
In closing, let us summarize. Retirement is not chronological age. The event occurs when our passive income pays our bills. Planning for retirement means planning to reduce obligation in the future by investing today. Investing in retirement is income-based with a huddle.
Steps to take to bag international scholarships
Here are the steps you should take if interested in pursuing international scholarships.
Studying abroad gives you exposure among many other things, and that is precisely why many Nigerians have been looking for ways to study abroad. However, not everybody is privileged with the resources to study overseas and this is where the international scholarship option comes in.
If you are interested in studying abroad and don’t have enough funds, you should consider applying for international scholarships. This article lists the steps you can take to bag international scholarships but before delving into that, here are some types of scholarships available to you as an international student:
- Location-based scholarships
- Course or program-based scholarships
- Sports-related scholarships
- Research-based scholarships
- University-funded scholarships
- Organization-funded scholarships
- Government-funded scholarships
Having discovered the types of international scholarships available to you, here are the steps you should take to bag any of these international scholarships.
Research: Research is vital if you don’t want to miss out on good opportunities or make mistakes during your application. Research scholarship opportunities available in your prospective college or location and be on the lookout for hidden scholarships.
Check your eligibility: Having done thorough research and discovered the available scholarship opportunities, check to see if you are eligible for them. Many international scholarships have their criteria and requirement, so you should confirm that you are the right fit first.
Get the required documents: After confirming your eligibility, you should get the necessary documents. If the scholarship requires you to write an exam, prepare for the exam, write a good statement of purpose and prepare all other documents.
Start your admission process: Some international scholarships require that you start your admission process and probably get the admission before starting your scholarship application.
Contact past scholarship winners: You might want to contact the previous scholarship winners to know what they did right and how you can learn from them.
Apply for the available scholarships: The last step is to apply to every available scholarship.
The best way to get funds for your undergraduate, postgraduate, or PhD pursuits abroad is by applying for international scholarships. If you do thorough research, you can find fully funded scholarships that won’t require you to pay any amount. One of the essential steps to getting an international scholarship as a Nigerian is staying abreast of current information and this will require you to network with others.
Nairametrics | Company Earnings
Access our Live Feed portal for the latest company earnings as they drop.
- Nigerian Breweries publishes names of over 100,000 shareholders who are yet to claim their dividends.
- 2020 FY Results: Sovereign Trust Insurance Plc records a 37% increase in profit after tax.
- CSCS Plc posts profit after tax of N6.93 billion in FY 2020
- BUA Cement Plc announces Board Meeting
- Infinity Trust Mortgage Bank Plc records a 60% increase in profit after tax in Q1 2021.