Comprehensive Income Product for Retirement - "CIPR" or "MyRetirement"
A key recommendation of the Financial System Inquiry (Murray Report) in 2014 was the superannuation funds should make available what are referred to as Comprehensive Income Products for Retirement (CIPR's) for members in retirement. This is a long, awkward acronym for a product that would provide members with a regular and stable income stream through retirement at low cost and providing reasonable flexibility. Flexibility in this instance means some access to capital at the member's request.
The Government supports the construction of CIPR's, and sees them as a way of better managing a situation in which retirees are generally opting for account based pensions and "self insuring" against longevity risk, sometimes by living more frugally than required. There is also some understanding that the system and circumstances retirees face can be extraordinarily complex, but many will nevertheless not seek appropriate professional advice, and hence a simpler product choice may be very beneficial.
In the May 2018 Budget, the Government announced that it would introduce a "retirement income covenant" that would require super funds to offer their members CIPR products - these are called MyRetirement products by the Government, which simply adds to the confusion. Whilst this is clearly a "good idea", with broad support, there is no clear cut understanding at the moment regarding the structure of such a product. One industry commentator, lamenting the need to provide such a product, said there was no point in developing a product that would, "only be used by 10% to 15% of the population". Whatever the merits or otherwise of a CIPR the comment is misguided, the problem is that no-one knows whether they will be in that "10% to 15%" and this causes oversaving across a broad section of the community.
The Government certainly sees the product as having many of the features of an annuity, but as we discuss elsewhere, there are significant problems surrounding annuities in Australia - particularly their relatively low rates of return and lack of providers. In essence the problem is that annuities are typically a complex and costly product and, in order to generate attractive rates of return, they would need to be invested less conservatively than is presently the case - and that has significant implications in terms of income volatility and risk.
Volatility could be addressed to some degree by pooling risk and effectively smoothing income returns - which is reminiscent of how returns on some old-fashioned life insurance policies were managed - but this adds to the complexity of the product. We also think there is some room for the use of tontine products in retirement, if appropriately regulated. These are products where investors receive a regular income which comprises both investment and mortality income - with the latter generally increasing as the shareholder ages
Finally, in an effort make the purchase of longevity products - those that provide a life income - more attractive, it was announced in the 2018 Federal Budget that a reduced proportion of the purchase price of "pooled lifetime income streams" would counted towards the age pension asset and income test from 1 July, 219. " The rules will assess a fixed 60 per cent of all pooled lifetime product payments as income, and 60 per cent of the purchase price of the product as assets until 84, or a minimum of 5 years, and then 30 per cent for the rest of the person's life".
The Government provided an example of how new system might work in the Federal Budget, and it is provided in its entirety below. The devil is usually in the detail, and you will note that very little detail is provided below - only a general comment that, "The combination of these products will provide you in with higher income compared to drawing down the minimum amount and also give her confidence that she won't run out of money". Exactly how this will be achieved, goes strangely unaddressed.
Making Ying's super work harder in retirement
Ying is 65 and approaching retirement. Ying has $350,000 in her superannuation fund, BestSuper.
Under the current rules, the trustee of BestSuper is most likely to recommend that Ying put her savings into an account-based pension. This is an investment account, which Ying can draw down throughout retirement. Ying doesn't know how long she will live and is worried she'll have to rely on the Age Pension if she runs out of money, so she only withdraws the minimum amount from her account each year, forgoing certain expenditure for fear of running out of money.
With planned reforms
Under the retirement income covenant, the trustee of BestSuper will be required to formulate a retirement income strategy for their members and develop a product that will provide income for life, no matter how long their members live.
Taking into account the new means testing rules, BestSuper creates a new product that would allow Ying to allocate 75 per cent of her savings (that is, $262,500) into an account-based pension, and place the remaining 25 per cent into a deferred lifetime annuity. The combination of these products will provide Ying with higher income compared to drawing down the minimum amount and also give her confidence that she won't run out of money. By keeping 75 per cent of her funds in a flexible account, Ying is free to draw on her capital to pay for expenses like a new car, holiday or health care.
Ying receives information from BestSuper about the products they offer that enables her to easily compare them and choose the one that suits her situation.
Note that the Government has clearly indicated that no one will be forced to take up a CIPR at retirement. That doesn't mean, of course, that it can't make it difficult or unattractive to do so through use of tax or pension policies. At the moment, however, the Government's intentions with respect to CIPR's remain largely "aspirational" - a "work in progress".