By Jaco Prinsloo, Certified financial planner, Alexander Forbes Financial Planning Consultants
The answer to this question will be different for everyone, so here are some things to think about:
Does it seem a long time away?
If you are under the age of 40, the chances are that thinking seriously about retirement may not be top of mind. The Covid-19 pandemic, sending the kids to school, disrupted holidays, and everyone’s health are more likely to be a concern. The fact is that you have time on your side, so now is the time to DO something and start saving. Consider this:
If you’re 25 and you save R500 a month for 40 years, with an investment return of 10% a year, you will have R3 188 390 at the age of 65.
If you’re 45 and you save R1 000 a month for 20 years, with the same return of 10% a year,
you will only have R765 697 at the age of 65.
The investment amount is the same, but it is compound interest (the interest on your interest) that makes the difference, because you have longer to invest. The key message here is: Make a start, no matter how small – it will add up over time.
Does retirement seem fairly close?
If you are over the age of 40, then retirement saving may well be on your radar, and if you are over 60 then you are probably seriously contemplating what retirement will look like for you.
Check what you have
Most people have worked in more than one job over the years and you may have a store of various pension pots waiting to be claimed as you moved from one place of work to another. Contact your ex-employers to see who administers these pensions or talk to a financial adviser to help you track down any hidden pots of gold. Those annual statements that are stuffed into a file somewhere may be very handy now. If you have moved address since you last worked at a company, make sure that you inform the scheme administrators so that they can send you up-to-date information – that is a responsibility many people forget.
Think about the lifestyle you would like in retirement
The days of working full time and stopping at retirement are now quite rare. People are generally still healthy in their 60s and many enjoy the social and mental aspects of working. Part-time working is becoming more common and now that ‘working from home’ is practically the norm, employers are being more flexible on hours. A ’phased’ retirement is much more common nowadays.
As a rule of thumb, you should plan for 60-75% of the amount you are earning before retirement once you actually retire. This can vary greatly depending on what you want to do. For many it can be the opportunity to travel or turn to a hobby full time. Some become carers for grandchildren or turn to volunteer and charity work. It is worth calculating a budget of what you think you will need. Don’t forget to factor in the impact of inflation; what you have today may not buy you the same in the future.
Often people focus on the early active years of retirement and forget that they may slow down over time. Some seniors will require nursing care and move to a frail care facility if their health becomes more fragile. It is best to start planning for that day early if you think you’ll need it.
How do I get there?
Once you have thought about what you might need in retirement and how long until you get there, you need to consider how much to save and to make your money grow.
Group retirement funds
If you are working and your employer offers a pension or provident fund, then make sure you join as soon as you can. You can contribute up to 27.50% of your salary – try to contribute as much as you can. Your employer will explain the fund rules to you and the investment choices available. If you’re not sure, then speak to a financial adviser.
Personal retirement funds
Suppose you don’t have access to an employer fund. In that case, you need to set up a personal pension, also known as a retirement annuity fund. Our advisers can help you with this.
You can contribute and deduct up to 27.50% of your taxable income or remuneration – whichever amount is the greater – against your personal income tax. This would reduce the amount of tax you are currently paying.
How you invest your retirement funds will be important in helping you have the lifestyle you want in retirement. You may be new to investing and naturally want to avoid taking any risks with your money. The longer you have to invest, the more time your money has to recover from any downturn in the market, so don’t be afraid to take some risk.
Make sure you understand what you are buying and avoid anything offering outrageous returns; the current interest rate on bank deposit accounts is less than 6%, so anything offering returns above 10% a year must have considerable risk.
Our advisers will always recommend you hold some cash for emergencies but keeping your retirement savings in cash will not give you any growth on your money at all. Worse still, the impact of inflation over the long term will mean that your cash will buy less when you retire.
Understand how much risk you are willing to take; you don’t want to be up all night worrying that your money might be lost and you don’t want to sleepwalk into a retirement with no income. You need to take a sensible amount of risk to achieve a reasonable return.
Will I have enough?
Remember that on average you are likely to live for 18 to 21 years after you retire and many people live well into their 90s now, so your money has to work hard to provide you with a decent income. Review your retirement plans once a year with your adviser to see if you are on track, be prepared to take action and stay focused on the lifestyle you want to live in retirement.
FROM EFFICIENCY TO NEW INVESTMENTS – WHY BLOCKCHAIN IS MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
Thomas Borrel, chief product officer at Polymath
Blockchain has been an extremely hot topic in 2021. With companies and financial institutions internationally having to adapt to an increasingly digital world, the true potential of blockchain is becoming increasingly clear. We have seen hospitals using the technology to track vaccine distributions, major blue-chip companies floating digital assets or ‘stablecoins’, even progress made by central banks in piloting and adopting digital currencies
When it comes to the world of finance, much of the attention has focussed on the booming price of Bitcoin, and there has been much excitement around using cryptocurrencies as an alternative investment. However, the real potential of blockchain technology stretches far into traditional finance and beyond.
Improving access to investment options
Security tokens created and issued on the blockchain are already being used to improve efficiency in a variety of more traditional asset classes, ranging from real estate to green bonds. The Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance (SDFA) and HSBC Center of Sustainable Finance recently joined forces to highlight how security tokens for green bonds can reduce management costs and increase operational efficiency by up to ten times. And in early 2020, RedSwan CRE Marketplace tokenised $2.2B in commercial real estate, making it one of the biggest tokenisations we’ve seen so far.
However, the potential of tokenisation does not only stand to improve the process of trading traditional assets; blockchain can also open up the pool of investors able to participate. To date, the focus has been on how fractionalisation brings benefits to retail investors by lowering the bar to entry. However, the retail regulations are still very stringent, which is important to protect non-professionals from disproportionate losses.
Tokenisation can be used to enable large institutional investors to buy into smaller projects. Referred to as aggregation, this process can be used to bind assets together so that they meet an institution’s minimum investment threshold. Because of the transparency of blockchain, the investor is still able to inspect each individual offering and ensure each element meets their quality and risk requirements, but by packaging it into one larger token, an institution can diversify with assets that would have otherwise flown under its radar.
Optimising efficiency and minimising risk
Risk management and operational efficiency are usually at the core of any financial institution’s wider strategy. However, no matter how much firms optimise their own processes, there are a range of financial instruments that are still very prone to issues in these areas, especially those that are traded ‘over the counter’ (OTC). The best example of this is likely the bonds market – a multi trillion-dollar market, where OTC trades are still common practice.
When an OTC trade is conducted, it is often so over the telephone – one person calling another to make a deal. This introduces significant information risk with securities operations teams reporting error rates as high as 40%. When instructions for the trade are passed on to the custodians, they will spot the discrepancy. They then have to investigate and find out what has gone wrong, often resulting in very long delays to settlement times.
Blockchains go a long way to solving this problem, providing transparent access to trade and clearing information so that operational issues can be caught earlier and help mitigate settlement risk (i.e. settlement failure). For example, on Polymesh settlement instructions must be affirmed prior to settlement, in a case where an OTC trade has been improperly captured by one counterparty, the counterparty which has affirmed the instruction can see that the other counterparty has not affirmed the instruction within a defined period. In this way, the affirming counterparty can reach out proactively prior to the settlement date to rectify the situation and avoid settlement failure.
Trading on blockchain also generates an easily accessible, secure ledger of trading information. When it comes to reporting in traditional asset classes, the process is highly manual and often expensive. But, with a blockchain solution, reporting is built into the ecosystem from the ground up. There are no significant additional costs or resources required to extract this data and share it where necessary, and the number and complexity of the steps required to complete reconciliations between different entities are reduced and simplified.
Is tokenisation a ‘cover all’ solution?
Fundamentally, certain traditional asset classes are not right for the blockchain yet. Instruments with well-established frameworks, like publicly traded stocks, already have very well-formed, rigorous rails in place, and so transferring to a blockchain could cause disruption and incur unnecessary costs.
It is very common to hear blockchain advocates claiming that blockchain technology should be introduced into every corner of the finance space, which is misguided. Blockchain should be introduced where it brings value to investors or institutions. It should be about augmenting and supplementing the marketplace – not overhauling it, or at least not until the incumbent systems no longer keep up with demand.
The costs and infrastructure associated with capital markets have made some assets – like green bonds or real estate – too expensive to bring to market and service, or too difficult to invest in. These use-cases are examples of where tokenisation can really shine.
Blockchain is an extremely powerful tool, with a range of exciting applications and potential benefits for businesses and financial institutions, ranging from risk management and efficiency through to enabling new investments. However, as with any product, it isn’t the answer to all problems, and must be treated as a powerful enabler – not as an agitator.
TRADING ROOMS OF THE FUTURE – IPC’S OUTLOOK FOR 2021
By Craig Campestre, Chief Revenue Officer, IPC
The Covid-19 pandemic did not just affect our clients. As soon as the virus started to spread around the world and lockdowns started to come into place, it became apparent here at IPC that we would need to implement our own business continuity plan and work from home strategies. All of this had to take place on an incredibly tight timescale and to an unprecedented extent. We had to react and adapt faster than ever before in order to help our clients prepare for lockdown. There was a need to manage supply chains, gather client feedback, and produce updates for our products with increased levels of accuracy, clarity, and efficiency.
During these challenging times, market participants have done an excellent job in moving quickly to make sure that their systems remain stable and resilient. The fact that the markets have remained open throughout this period is a testament to their great work.
Now though, it is time for us all to look ahead and see what the future holds for the trading industry.
How the industry is evolving
Prior to the pandemic, the trading room was starting to change. Regulatory requirements such as MiFID II, a piece of legislative framework designed to regulate financial markets and improve protections for investors, had resulted in the transformation of workflows on the trading floor. There is now a real necessity for telephonic communications to be integrated with trading technology in order to gain actionable insights from conversations.
We have also noticed that a new trend has emerged – traders are now starting to consume multiple applications from just one terminal. As a result of this, data is being shared organically between the applications.
Trading desks are also striving for increased productivity. Using AI-powered natural language processing (NLP) tools, trading firms are able to strive for swifter execution, better communications, and smooth-running reporting processes and settlements. All in all, this leads to an overall increase in efficiency.
Additionally, there are numerous areas across trading floors where NLP will be used in the coming years. It will enable traders to voice populate applications and forms on their desktops, while NLP will also allow for heads of trading desks to search through structured sets of data, enabling them to reconstruct trades instead of having to manually listen to numerous audio files.
With hundreds of millions of voice quotes being generated around the world every day, it is vital that this market data is unlocked, and that future trading floors are equipped with the necessary voice communication tools to allow them to conduct better analysis and automate their workflows.
Global growth and the FX market
Traditional trading hubs, such as the US, the UK, Japan and Hong Kong are still facilitating most of the foreign exchange (FX) market trading. However, in recent years trading hubs from emerging markets are starting to come to the fore. For example, China is making great inroads, evidenced by the country being ranked as the 8th largest FX trading center, per the 2019 BIS triennial survey.
The Asia-Pacific region has long been viewed as a growing market. Even before the pandemic, trading firms operating in this region had already faced a crisis and were impacted by a major geopolitical event – the 2019-20 Hong Kong protests. The protests meant that traders in the region were forced to adjust their trading activities and working practices. As such, these trading firms were able to use the experience gained from having to suddenly pivot and roll out their business continuity plans to help financial companies around the rest of the world when lockdowns came into effect due to the pandemic.
Adding to this, it is important to consider the impact that current geopolitical events may have on global growth over the coming years. Brexit and the increased economic tension between China and the US, as well as Covid-19, all have the potential to have a major impact on global growth. Due to these geopolitical events, we may observe a shift in the location of trading activities, which may begin taking place in locations that are, presently, not thought of as global trading hubs.
How IPC can help
The global markets are continuously changing and evolving. As such, it is vital for market participants to remain on the edge of innovation.
Here at IPC, we are constantly assessing what needs to be done to enable the development of the trading room of the future. This includes bringing voice communication services fully into electronic trading environments. By doing this, it will allow for greater integration with data sources, trading technologies and electronic workflows. In places where we have voice products that function using legacy infrastructure, we are in the process of modernizing the underlying technologies.
It is clear to see that the trading industry was in the midst of an evolution prior to the pandemic. However, this transformation has definitely been accelerated by the events of the past year, with companies having to quickly adapt to the ever-changing circumstances. This process is likely to continue into 2021 and beyond, with new and improved products continuing to enter the marketplace. Looking to the future, it is vital that financial market participants maintain their resilience and maintain their innovative edge.
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