Ageing population worries Aussie chiefs

SYDNEY - A survey of business leaders has found less than half are confident Australia is on track to meet the challenges of an ageing population, particularly in superannuation.

Only 44 per cent of chief executives surveyed were confident of Australia's policy approach, with many concerned the negative effects could be greater than anticipated.

There was also concern about Australia's attitude to future infrastructure needs, the survey found.

The 2010 CEO Survey was conducted by the Financial Services Council and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Company wealth management leader Andrew Wilson said that by 2050 one-in-five Australians would be over 65 and begin drawing down on their retirement savings.

"This may have far-reaching implications on the economy as the amount of money flowing out of super funds begins to exceed the amount of money flowing into them," he said.

Wilson said this could have a significant impact on equity markets and economic growth as investors moved from higher risk, longer-term investments to more conservative ones.

Increasing the mandatory superannuation guarantee and broadening the availability of superannuation advice were regarded as the most important ways to improve the adequacy of retirement savings.

More than 95 per cent of CEOs were not confident that Australia's approach to infrastructure would meet future needs. They said sourcing capital to fund large-scale infrastructure projects was challenging.

"It is clear that if Australia continues with its current approach to funding we will fall well short of meeting our infrastructure needs both now and into the future," Financial Services Council chief executive John Brogden said.

The survey also found that most CEOs thought Australia should be positioned as a regional financial services hub.

There were differing views on how to achieve this, however, and whether Australia could compete with existing financial service hubs, like Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.

- AAP

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