A “perfect storm” of demographic, individual and financial elements is poised to undermine people’s retirement plans unless they prepare properly, warns a new global survey.

The new report by HSBC Insurance, the company’s fifth annual Future of Retirement Study, found a continuing lack of pension planning even though people are aware that they are likely to live longer, along with poor levels of financial understanding, education and access to advice. The survey respondents appeared to be more concerned with protecting their possessions in the short-term than ensuring that they could look forward to a financially secure retirement, according to the study’s authors.

“A perfect storm is confronting pensions planning, created by an aging population, falling pension funds values, a drop in state and employer contributions, and an economic downturn which is forcing people to make tough financial choices,” said HSBC group chairman Stephen Green in a statement.

Only 13 percent of the people surveyed felt fully prepared for their retirement, according to the study, which questioned 15,000 people in 15 countries. Meanwhile, 86 percent did not know what income they would receive in retirement. Only 27 percent said they felt they fully understand their long-term finances. About 43 percent have undertaken some planning for later life, but they remained unclear about what their retirement income would look like, while 14 percent had done no retirement planning at all.

Financial education and guidance appear to have been insufficient for most of those surveyed. HSBC found that 43 percent of the respondents have never had any form of financial education, and 47 percent have never had any form of professional financial advice.

As a result of the economic downturn, 92 percent of the respondents said they have changed some element of their finances. Only 19 percent said they would now retire as planned, while 17 percent are reducing their retirement savings or stopping their saving for retirement altogether. HSBC found that 18 percent have used their savings to pay off debts, and 9 percent expect to delay their retirement.

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