In this chapter our objective was to gain an understanding of what affects Maltese individuals’ behaviors when it comes to retirement planning. Given that longevity is on the increase, state pension income is limited (and most probably unsustainable over the long term) and that many individuals expect to be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement, it sets out to determine which macro- and micro-environmental factors are likely to encourage positive behavior or otherwise.
We did this by consulting and analyzing existing literature in chapter 8 of this book and designing an online survey which was specifically created to capture qualitative data about public sentiment and behaviors with respect to retirement planning.
The study identifies a general sense of confusion in relation to financial concepts related to retirement. In line with other countries’ findings, the prevalence of myopia, procrastination and inertia has also been observed through the research undertaken.
Through established behavioral finance theories and literature, as well as actual European practical examples, the research explores the best ways of “nudging” people into recognizing the importance of acting and making the right long-term financial decisions, to their own benefit and to that of society.
Notwithstanding, that overall savings of the Maltese are around the average established for Europe, the study found that savings tend to be shorter term, and therefore insignificant when considering the actual requirements for the desired quality of life at retirement. The research showed how, as with other countries, behavioral biases have been limiting people from acting or making the right choices.
Of the most prominent of behaviors, procrastination, myopia, and inertia were observed. In the local market, these seemed to stem from a sense of disorientation as to the meaning of certain concepts, how to initiate the process and which actions to take. In fact, although many did not admit it outright, respondents showed low levels of confidence in their abilities, and avoid acting out of fear that it may not be the right choice. At the same time, they would try to rationalize their lack of action by the premise that things would sort themselves out, although this is typically labeled as overconfidence, it is likely to be an attempt to feel better about their stance on the matter.
Grima, S. and Pavia, S. (2019), "Retirement Planning by Maltese Nationals: A Study of Influential Factors", Grima, S., Özen, E., Boz, H., Spiteri, J. and Thalassinos, E. (Ed.) Contemporary Issues in Behavioral Finance (Contemporary Studies in Economic and Financial Analysis, Vol. 101), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 227-259. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1569-375920190000101016
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