The simple answer is yes.
Administrators such as Ninety One, Wealth Foundry, Momentum and so on allow investors to start retirement annuity investments at any age. Retirement from these products can only be done from age 55 as per our current rules.
For many investors, retirement annuities are not always an attractive investment option due to the restrictions imposed on global allocations within these investments. These restrictions, known as Regulation 28, have been amended with the recent budget speech.
Read: Pension funds may now invest up to 45% of their offshore capital
The new offshore allocation within these pre-retirement investments (retirement annuities, pension funds, provident funds, provident preservation and preservation funds) has been increased from 30% offshore and 10% African exposure to a total inclusive total of 45% offshore allocation.
Based on the long-term trajectory, having greater offshore equity exposure has been more beneficial for South African investors – as can be seen in the graph below.
With the now increased offshore allowance within these pre-retirement investments, they are becoming a more attractive investment option.
Benefits of investing in retirement annuities
Growth in your investment is not subject to tax. What does this mean? You do not pay capital gains tax on any growth in the investment. You only pay tax when you ultimately receive your benefits in the form of an income, or retire and receive a lump sum amount greater than your tax-free portion (R500 000 or what is available thereof). With a retirement annuity, you can invest tax-free contributions up to 27.5%, of your annual income, capped at R350 000 per annum.
Beneficiaries can be nominated on your investment, meaning that your estate duty liability is reduced upon death. These investment proceeds will be transferred to the nominated beneficiaries and they will have the choice of either taking the cash lump sums (subject to tax) or investing them in a retirement annuity of their own choice.
Creditor protection is applicable for the investment. Recent studies show that a lot of South Africans are using up to 70% of their monthly income to service their credit responsibilities. Retirement annuities cannot be claimed by creditors to service bad debt, but the income derived from these investments can be. This is not something we would like to think about, but it’s a harsh reality in the current environment.
It does need to be mentioned that for younger investors retirement annuities are becoming a less attractive investment vehicle due to restrictions for accessing your money if you want to emigrate.
South African financial emigration laws have changed in the last couple of years. If you now want to access your retirement annuity you must have been a non-resident for South African tax purposes for a period of at least three years.
There are also other alternatives for you. Given your age, it also might be beneficial to you to invest in a tax-free savings account if you aren’t already utilizing your full annual amount of R36 000. Combining this with a retirement annuity is tax-efficient, and both are good savings vehicles.
As with all investment decisions it is best to speak to a qualified and registered financial advisor.