The current landscape of retirement in Nigeria will change in the next couple of years as the aging workforce is becoming increasingly visible in businesses, government, politics, and sports. Besides, with or without employment, a retirement phase will surely come for every individual. However, persistently high rates of unemployment have been a serious concern in the country over the years, without any visible unemployment benefit, insurance, or social policy. The reality is that even the unemployed will equally attain retirement age and will be transiting in a few years. So, the impact of unemployment should be seen as long-term and life-long, because it affects living standards even in retirement when active age and work life has phased out with no palliatives or support.
It is not uncommon for employees, politicians, entrepreneurs, and the unemployed to live more than 20 years after the retirement age of 60 years but the issue is usually the sustainability of wellbeing, livelihood, lifestyle, status, and social demands. The longer the time spent in retirement, the harder it becomes to be certain about the adequacy of resources to keep the livelihood and lifestyle going. For those that care to know, individuals will need to have enough funds, assets that generate steady income, family support, or investments saved to last even beyond 20 years. Unfortunately, a recent survey in Lagos State amongst the cluster of entrepreneurs and older adults, a majority of retirees may not have enough resources to meet and maintain their standard of living, in an era of uncertainty, increasing inflation, and harsh economic environments, and much more.
This piece presents insights from business owners and businesses around Lagos State, the economic capital of the country on retirement planning. A follow-up survey in the computer village Ikeja area of the State was carried out, where respondents (entrepreneurs) indicated that they will only be willing to grow and expand their businesses at the expense of retirement planning, how ironic? Few mentioned that the only motivating factor that can increase their confidence in retirement is if their businesses succeed.
One of the key findings in the survey was that only a fraction of businesses is aware of the importance of pension and retirement plans. It was a stiff struggle identifying businesses with adequate arrangements of pension for staff, owner/manager, or the business operator. Even though a retirement plan through pension arrangements can help ensure that business owners and their staff have enough funds to live on in their later years, this all-important scheme is found missing in the majority of small businesses in Lagos State. Recall small businesses are over 90% of existing businesses in the country and provide significantly for a majority of homes and families in terms of employment, sustainability, and livelihood. Many entrepreneurs are so busy growing their businesses that they put off planning for retirement, this growing trend is not only worrisome but disturbing. Surprisingly, as important as a retirement plan is, aging business owners and operators rarely consider it imperative.
The survey further indicated that a majority of the businesses do not have retirement savings plans, and 40% of business owners in the survey are not confident that they will be able to retire before the age of 65. Nevertheless, the good news is that those small business owners have more options available to them than traditional 9 am to 5 pm office employees, yet this advantage is not explored. Because it presents an option of flexibility on the date of retirement. Retirement can either be considered early or later, in some cases business owners might choose not to fully retire. The flexibility gives entrepreneurs the option to determine exactly when to stop working, yet many continue to operate without ceasing.
Indeed, according to the survey, 70% of the self-employed and entrepreneurs at the computer village do not save regularly for retirement. The reason adjudged to this phenomenon is that they do not receive a steady salary pack, so many of these hardworking individuals forgo retirement plans. The survey further highlights that some of the small business owners have the mind of selling their businesses to fund their retirement and relocating to the village when the time arises. However, the risk of this option is that entrepreneurs and small business owners can overestimate the value of their businesses and eventually run at a loss. Counting entirely on the sale of a business to fully fund a long retirement is highly risky due to unforeseen circumstances.
The survey also found that many business owners would appreciate guidance when it comes to retirement because they lack knowledge of it. It is important to note that before death, especially under normal conditions in life, there is a phase called old age; a period where entrepreneurs have almost exhausted intellectual values and strength. Consequently, there is a need to prepare for such a phase of life with adequate retirement planning and possibly business succession.
Retiring is a real-life changing phase with far-reaching implications, dreadful stories and most entrepreneurs would not want to hear or discuss this reality but unfortunately, there is nothing one can do about it; it is bound to come one day. Business owners cited cost and lack of resources to administer the plan as the leading reason why they do not have a retirement plan in place.
Please note if you are a small business owner reading this, you are likely busy running your business and have not had the time to research the best retirement option. While retirement may not be on your mind currently as an entrepreneur, the sooner you start planning for this all-important aspect of your business the better. Here are simple steps entrepreneurs and small business owners can take right now to prepare for retirement in my opinion.
A good start is by implementing the 10% rule which is a lot easier than you can comprehend. Achievable by simply setting up an auto-transfer system with your bank, that is automatically transferring 10% of all your earnings out of your business account into your savings account every month. Then you can place the accumulated fund into a low-risk investment at intervals and allow compounding interest to grow your fund. This applies whether you are an entrepreneur or not. It is a simple trick to grow your wealth and support a retirement plan. Real estate investments can also help give succour in retirement, but professional guidance needs to be sought.
Another approach is to develop an exit strategy in your business, that is, have in mind right now what will happen to it when you retire, when you intend to eventually quit, and set up strategies to guarantee retirement income. One other important factor to consider is what will happen to your business when you retire. Will you pass it on to family or sell the company to another business or owner? Will you have someone currently working for you take over? A simple retirement model can give you a simple leeway, but you have to plan for it and stick to it. Because retirement age varies so drastically, small business owners need to evaluate their lifestyle, savings, and the company’s overall performance to determine an ideal retirement option.
In conclusion, a bit of research, adequate planning, and seeking advice can help with achievable retirement goals. A professional can also help streamline your business and help with the necessary details required to have a comfortable retirement.
Dr. Timi Olubiyi, an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Babcock University, Nigeria. A prolific investment coach, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, for any questions, reactions, and comments.