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30% of pensioners still in debt


According to new research* from YouGov and leading wealth manager Old Mutual Wealth, almost one-third of retired people were still carrying debt at the point they gave up full time work. The research, to be published in Old Mutual Wealth’s Redefining Retirement study, revealed that the average amount of debt held at the point of retirement is £34,500, however 19% of people had debts of over £50,000 and almost one in ten had debts of over £100,000. 

Mortgage debt is most common, with 21% of people still owing money on their house when they retire. 14% owe money on credit or store cards, whilst 6% have unsecured loans.

The pension reforms that came into force in April 2015 provided savers with greater flexibility in how they accessed their pensions. The average amount withdrawn in cash from pension funds by retirees since the reforms is £28,000, with 19% of retirees using some of that money to pay off debt.

However, 58% of those who had debt at the point of retirement are still in debt now. 30% still have mortgage debt and 28% still owe money on credit or store cards.

The probability of carrying debt into retirement may come as a surprise to those approaching retirement now, as only around 17% expect to owe money when they decide to retire. Those who do expect to have debt at retirement anticipate the amount to be around £33,500, but only 9% expect to owe money on their house.

Adrian Walker, Retirement Planning Manager at Old Mutual Wealth, comments:

“We have become a nation comfortable with debt and this follows many people into retirement.  I imagine most people would hope to be releasing themselves from the shackles of debt before they retire, particularly the debt attached to their home. This new data shows the harsh reality that many will not be able to release themselves from those ties immediately, as levels of debt are higher than they perhaps imagine.

“The new pension rules do give people the option of using some, or all of their pension savings to pay off debt, however the amounts being withdrawn are not enough to cover the average that is owed and there could be a detrimental effect on the amount of longer term income available to these consumers.  The data shows that debt planning is just as important as saving and investing in relation to how much income people will have in retirement. Putting a plan together that includes how debt will be managed in the run up to retirement can be best managed with the help of financial advice ”


*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1649 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15/05/2015 - 18/05/2015.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted.

For more information contact

Tim Skelton-SmithOld Mutual Wealth02380 916 99807824 145

Notes to editors:

About Quilter plc:

Quilter plc is a leading wealth management business in the UK and internationally, helping to create prosperity for the generations of today and tomorrow.

Quilter plc oversees £118.1 billion in customer investments (as at 30 September 2018).

It has an adviser and customer offering spanning: financial advice; investment platforms; multi-asset investment solutions and discretionary fund management.

The business is comprised of two segments: Wealth Platforms and Advice and Wealth Management.

Wealth Platforms includes the Old Mutual Wealth UK Platform; Old Mutual International, including AAM Advisory in Singapore; and the Old Mutual Wealth Heritage life assurance business.

Advice and Wealth Management encompasses the financial planning network, Intrinsic; Quilter Private Client Advisers; discretionary fund management business, Quilter Cheviot; and Quilter Investors, the Multi-asset investment solutions business.

The Quilter plc businesses are being re-branded to Quilter over a period of approximately two years:

• The Multi-asset business is now Quilter Investors

• Intrinsic to Quilter Financial Planning

• The private client advisers business is now Quilter Private Client Advisers

• The UK Platform to Quilter Wealth Solutions

• The International business to Quilter International

• The Heritage life assurance business to Quilter Life Assurance

• Quilter Cheviot will retain its name

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