Why working into retirement years makes a lot of sense
Retirement has been portrayed through rose-coloured glasses for many years as the reward for working, living, coping, consuming, raising a family, and just getting on with life.
When those not retired individuals realistically think about those who are, perpetuated by mass media (more on this later), it is negative images – illustrated by a bunch of doddering oldsters pushing croquet balls around a court, just for something to do.
In talking to those closer to retirement, the reaction is not the same at all! These individuals are very determined not to be perceived as ‘trying to figure out a way to keep busy”.
Many know that they will need to work longer than planned, the financial implications of which may work to their advantage as in our lifetime, our country population is facing a major shift in percentage of working age demographics and concomitant skills.
The Bermuda November 2020 Labour Force Survey and the overview of the 2021 Employment Survey Guidance Notes composition of our workforce as the country moves forward with a Covid economic recovery, not only indicated the lower level of employment numbers overall, but a dismaying drop in the number of over 65 individuals employed compared to several prior years’ reports.
Whether these individuals have simply opted for full retirement – as so many have in the US – rather than return to work, or the jobs themselves have declined, is not delineated.
This much we do know. Experience and expertise counts, no matter the occupation. A skilled labour force is a dominant driver of a growth economy.
We need committed individuals that can solve problems and who:
• Feel an urgency to fulfil assignments
• Possess an ability to perform at a high level in any job
• Take pride in a position and place in life
• Have a propensity to responsibly respond to incentives
• Undertake continuing education on their own initiatives
• Employ a highly refined sense of personal standards of integrity and service.
Who are these people? I see them every day.
The mature worker who has never taken anything for granted, who understands what it means to survive adversity; who takes pride in what he/she does every day.
This economy will continue to need service professionals of all categories, accountants, bankers, sales personnel, marketers, technicians, teachers, those that implement the directives of corporations to succeed and many more job categories.
We are aware that we need to bring along younger generations, and while some have brought their skills home, we need to incentivise and educate even more.
It takes time from cradle to graduation; thus, meanwhile, the void in the workplace has to be filled by guest workers. However, experienced committed elders can win the popularity contest, too; we will be needed in larger supportive numbers if we want to contribute to the economic recovery.
Is this a good thing for those closer to retirement stars who want to continue working?
Yes, from the short term for us as individuals. From the long-term perspective, if we still have a deficit of home-grown intellectual talent we will be needed for economic growth.
If you are in your sixties or older now, your skills could complement the workforce for ten more years, possibly longer – or the time it takes to turn education opportunities into careers for the next generation.
We may even be earning our own future care – because it looks like there won't be too many others filling our shoes for us.
Here in Bermuda as elsewhere, it is possible that soon-to-be retirees have not saved (or not been able to save) enough, so, there is a real need to augment that income. Over the years, we’ve traded on our property values, rents, and other income side-job generators.
The highly competitive annual rate of return on executive rentals has appeared again helping with that additional income, but should not be counted on long-term, simply due to the impact of Zoom conferencing, other remote meeting/working choices. Whether working remotely, from home or country becomes the choice of commuting physically, or electronically remains to be seen.
A McKinsey Study found that only working two years longer can enhance your eventual retirement, while working five years longer and continuing to save provides additional resources to the individual and the economy as a whole – a term called wider spillovers.
The drawdown effect of living early and entirely from a fixed-income base is delayed, bringing greater life satisfaction into later years.
Another statistic, increasing legal retirement age, having additional older workers or working longer boosts GDP growth.
If you want to continue to work, or are considering staying in the employment market, should you reinvent yourself yet again as a mature vibrant individual?
You have to start by outright rejecting society’s definition of old.
You have to define you as what you want to be.
You, as a hard-working, contributing older member of a dominant society, should expect respect as well.
But, be aware – it might not be so if you have become complacent, letting yourself slip stylistically, putting in the food and on the pounds, narrowing your social and mental sphere, and being afraid to take risks.
For a fine quality of life in later life, the statistics are conclusively positive.
Overwhelming. those who maintain acute intellectual capacity, along with physical vitality are happier, fulfilled individuals.
Do you have the discipline to reinvigorate and plan for meaning in your later years?
I challenge you to consider change.
There is still so much time left to truly be!
Get going, and send me your success stories, I want to publish them!
In continuing episodes, we will explore what it means as a mature individual to brand yourself, refine your sense of style (you don’t need a lot of money), get an education or finish up your dreams, increase social connectivity, and view your finances to fund your life satisfaction in the New Age of Individual Enlightenment.
• Martha Harris Myron, a native Bermudian with US connections, is a qualified international cross-border financial planner, the author of The Bermuda Islander Financial Planning Primers, a Google News Contributor since 2016, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Bermuda Ltd., and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette, Bermuda’s national newspaper