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 While some people suffer an identity crisis in their 40s, new research from Just Retirement suggests that those in their ‘fearful forties’ may be experiencing a “Midlife Pensions Crisis”.

When 1,200 over-40s were asked about their views on retirement, those in their early 40s were the most pessimistic in their retirement outlook as they seemed to suffer a crisis of confidence.  Only one in 10 felt that their retirement planning would mean they would be comfortable in retirement and just 13% of over-40s said they were looking forward to retirement.

Being prepared for retirement is a significant concern for 40 to 45 year olds with 31% wishing they had started sorting out their retirement plans sooner, 18% saying that they find pension planning confusing and 10% dreading making irreversible choices around retirement.   Financial stability was also a concern with 26% suggesting they would need to keep working for as long as possible as they needed the money and 18% admitting that they would need to ‘make some tough decisions at retirement’.

Although, those in their early 40s appear to suffer a ‘Midlife Pensions Crisis’, they gradually become more optimistic as they age and transition from ‘fearful forties’ to ‘secure sixties’.  Those in their early 50s are more likely to believe they will be comfortable in retirement (25%), more likely to look forward to retirement (16%) and significantly less likely to dread making retirement choices (4%).

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at specialist financial services group, Just Retirement said:

“When people reach their 40th birthday, the idea that they will eventually retire really hits home and the challenge of retirement planning means that they can suffer a ‘midlife pensions crisis.  This appears to be characterised by confusion, lack of confidence in their retirement provision and concerns about what might happen.

“However – as with the more traditional midlife crisis – as they age and start to take positive steps to meet these challenges, they start to worry less about their retirement until by their early sixties almost a third are looking forward to this new stage in life.  That said, the figures still suggest that less than half of people in their early sixties (43%) believe they will be comfortable in retirement which is hugely concerning.

“Taking proactive steps such as speaking to an independent financial adviser, enrolling into a workplace pension scheme and making choices which will ensure you have a guaranteed income in retirement are vital.  No one wants to reach traditional retirement age and find that they are still as worried and confused as they were twenty years before.

“There is currently a debate around when people should have access to the government’s guaranteed guidance service – Pension Wise.   Fifty is an age that is being proposed but this research suggests that some people may value having access to this guidance at even earlier.”