Senior citizens, too, need to be safe and smart with their money
Over the years, longevity is increasing and senior citizens need to be careful about saving and investing their money correctly so that it lasts for 20-25 years after retirement. This is a challenge for most people. Also, increasingly, the world is moving towards more and more interactions through mobile, Internet and computers. While this makes for convenience, it brings its attendant risks. To address these two issues—of safety and investments, Moneylife Foundation conducted a special programme for senior citizens on post-retirement savings and investments. Sucheta Dalal, managing editor of Moneylife and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation, conducted the first session on ‘safe investing and how not to lose money’. The second session was conducted by Debashis Basu, editor Moneylife and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation on ‘smart investing’.
Ms Dalal highlighted that “Senior citizens trust people very easily and, hence, they are more susceptible of fraud.” This statement was supported by the concept of cognitive impairment which was explained by Ms Dalal in detail. Senior citizens should only invest in regulated offers by SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India), PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority) and RBI (Reserve Bank of India). Participants took a keen interest in phishing, vishing and identity traps which are rampant online these days. She asked them to keep all conversations with banks documented, store phone numbers and email IDs of relationship managers and managers, at least two levels above them. She suggested that selection of a bank should not be done in a hurry. One should follow some banking tips to keep one’s money safe.
Nomination is a serious issue and it demands close attention. Ms Dalal emphasised that forgotten nominations can lead to great losses. Knowledge about the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (passed in December 2007) was shared with participants. The Act provides for benefits such as monthly maintenance, faster complaint disposal and levying fines, if children do not take care of parents.
In the second session, Mr Basu explained why concerns of investors are different before retirement and post-retirement. He said that in the post-retirement stage, one should consider the average life span of individuals and plan investments accordingly. Amongst different schemes available in the financial market, Senior Citizens Savings Scheme (SCSS) is a better option than annuities as it pays a higher interest rate; but both are taxed according to your income-tax bracket.
Two-part portfolio is an effective investment methodology for people who are retired. One can invest 60% of the total corpus in fixed-income securities and the remaining 40% of the total corpus in diversified equity mutual funds which would work towards beating inflation.
For the fixed-income part, based on one’s individual tax bracket, one can invest in a mix of bank fixed deposits (FDs), corporate FDs, corporate bonds or non-convertible debentures, tax-free bonds and short-term debt funds. For people who fall in 20% and, especially, 30% tax bracket, an excellent option is tax-free bonds from government companies.
The different investment options need to be evaluated for parameters such as safety, ease of investment, post-tax returns, liquidity and interest payment options. The presentations were followed by lively discussions.