Traditional retirement shunned by the wealthy

Traditional retirement is being rejected by a new breed of wealthy worker who want to carry on working for as long as they are able, says Absa Wealth, an affiliate of Barclays Wealth, in the latest Wealth Insights report, The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement.

The report which looked at the perceptions and attitudes of 2000 high net worth individuals around the globe, found wealthy South Africans were the world’s most confident about their financial security in the 20-country survey. And South Africa’s wealthy topped the rankings by far as the nation most optimistic about retirement.

High net worth South Africans have a very positive outlook on retirement considering it to be the best years of their lives. The survey showed that half of wealthy South Africans expect retirement to be the ‘best years of their lives.’ South Africa was followed by Australia and the USA in retirement with 25% respondents in each of those countries agreeing.

The report also highlighted stark sociological shifts in attitudes towards retirement – long perceived as the time in your life when you kick back and forget about work. Sixty per cent of wealthy individuals polled say that they plan to become a ‘Nevertiree,’ shunning traditional retirement. Instead they expect to continue working, start businesses and take on new projects in their later years.

South Africans (89%) were also among the highest group of respondents who expressed a desire to keep on working in later life, after other emerging markets such as Saudi Arabia (92%) and the United Arab Emirates (91%). However the concept is also popular in developed economies with the UK (60%) and US (54%) showing a desire to carry on working. High net worth people in Switzerland (34%), Spain (44%) and Japan (46%) are the most likely to want a conventional retirement.

The findings show that the concept of Nevertirement is expected to grow over the coming decades, with over 70% of respondents under the age of 45 saying that they will always be involved in some form of work. This represents a step change for the wealthy. While previous generations looked to create their wealth early on in life with a view to enjoying it when they retired, this report reflects a different attitude, with people wanting to continue to challenge themselves well beyond the traditional retirement age.

Many Nevertirees prefer to be actively engaged and challenged and are not bound by their age with regards to continuing their working life. The report also demonstrated that as well as wanting to keep on working, the wealthy are using the later years to re-examine their options with regards to work, looking for different careers and positions, often moving from the role of execution and control to that of influence.

Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology and Director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing at the University of Oxford said, “People want to contribute, they want to be doing something. Work gives people status, and at an age when you’re incredibly experienced you may want to start a second career or even do something completely different from your previous professional life.”