Australians want choice and flexibility when it comes to when they retire, whether they continue working, and how they access their money. But a surprising number are embarrassed to ask about the one thing that will most commonly help them achieve the freedom they desire, according to a report commissioned by CFS.

If we know anything about Australians’ attitudes to retirement, we know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. People want choice and flexibility when it comes to designing their post-working life. According to the 2024 CFS Rethinking Retirement report*, this includes when they retire and how they spend their time and money. 


Most Australians would like the freedom to work as they choose. Two in three are planning to continue working in some capacity after they reach retirement age, and seven out of eight believe they should be able to work for as long as they think is necessary.

Flexibility of work in retirement

Of those who plan to continue working, 15 per cent want to keep working just as much in retirement, while a further 18 per cent would like to continue working in the same role but reduce their working hours. 


A total of 34 per cent would like to change the type or frequency of work they do but just one in three Australians want to stop work completely, according to the Rethinking Retirement report. 

Most don’t get to choose when they retire

Being able to choose when they retire is relatively rare, with just one in three Australians able to stop working at a time of their choosing.


Our research showed, two in three people retire out of necessity. Of those, 35 per cent said it was due to their own or their partner’s ill health. 

Advised Australians are much more likely to retire when they choose

Our 2023 Empowered Australians report found that accessing financial advice offers significant benefits, with advised Australians more confident and more positive about their financial position than unadvised Australians with the same net wealth and income.


The Rethinking Retirement report goes a step further, revealing advice also plays a key role in providing Australians with control over when they retire. 


Advised Australians are twice as likely as unadvised Australians to retire at a time of their choosing, the report found.

Some Australians are embarrassed to access advice

Many Australians access professional advice about retiring. One in five contact their super provider, a similar number speak to a financial adviser, and 7 per cent speak to an accountant. 


Others accessed informal advice, with a further 18 per cent speaking to friends or family members.


However, one in ten indicated they were embarrassed to ask for the help they needed — including simply learning how much money they would need to be able to retire. 


When we asked people to tell us the question they felt silly or embarrassed to ask, “How much money will I need to retire comfortably?” was the most common response. 

Arguably, knowing this one simple fact earlier would go a long way towards helping more Australians achieve freedom in retirement.  

People over-estimate how much they need to retire

In fact, Australians commonly over-estimate how much money they will need for a comfortable retirement with $1.6 million the amount unretired Australians think they will need on average. This far exceeds the $595,000 super balance required for a comfortable retirement at age 67 recommended by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia^ and is a source of stress among pre-retirees. 


That said, Australians in general would benefit from earlier planning, with 24 per cent saying “not saving enough” was their biggest pre-retirement mistake.

Choice over how to spend their money

Choice and flexibility remain important to people when it comes to managing money in retirement. Eight in ten Australians expressed the desire to be able to access their money when they need to.


Many also want to leave some of their super to help family members or support causes close to their heart, rather than spending it on a more comfortable retirement for themselves. 

“Charities desperately need funds and I’d like to help my kids like my parents helped me,” said one retiree.


A majority of Australians are enjoying their retirement

In general, Australians are enjoying their retirement: a total of seven out of ten retirees said they were enjoying a comfortable retirement.


Their definition of ‘comfortable’ varied significantly. “Food, petrol and a roof over my head,” was how one retiree described it. “Having enough money to take an overseas trip every few years without having to save all the time,” was the view of another.


Overall, advised Australians are 50 per cent more likely to be enjoying retired life. More than three in four advised retirees say they are enjoying retirement, compared with two in four who have never received financial advice.

How can you achieve the retirement you want?

Obtaining advice is important: Australians who plan early and get advice are more likely to have certainty over when they retire, and are more likely to enjoy their retirement. 

Find out more about your retirement advice options, find an adviser, or check out the tools and resources below.

Tools and Resources

How much super do I need to retire?

How much super do I need to retire?

Use these tools and benchmarks to figure out how to reach your goals in retirement.

Retirement planning guide <br>&nbsp;

Retirement planning guide

Creating a strategy for your retirement can help you retire with financial freedom.

Retirement Calculator <br>&nbsp;

Retirement Calculator

Our retirement calculator can help you determine how much money you will need.

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Avanteos Investments Limited ABN 20 096 259 979, AFSL 245531 (AIL) is the trustee of the Colonial First State FirstChoice Superannuation Trust ABN 26 458 298 557 and issuer of FirstChoice range of super and pension products. Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFSL 232468 (CFSIL) is the responsible entity and issuer of products made available under FirstChoice Investments and FirstChoice Wholesale Investments.


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