Referred to as the ‘pig in the python’ generation, the baby boomers are certainly living up to their reputation as they enter retirement with an assertive bang rather than a deathly whimper. They’re fit, healthy, experienced, energetic and perfectly positioned to challenge the world’s preconceived ideas about what retirement should be. Having being gifted with a longevity bonus that no previous generation has had, this generation is likely to pull up its collective nose at the perception that retirement is series of golfing, gardening, rinsing and then repeat until dead.
With added health and vitality, this generation is shunning the Big Bang retirement philosophy and embracing the concept of an Evolutionary Retirement – gradually entering into a post-65 career that has the potential to be inordinately more exciting than their previous one. Loosed from the shackles of corporate-dom and sans any glass ceilings or boardroom politics, there is no end to the possibilities that await the post-retiree as he embraces his potential to re-launch, redesign and retyrement.
Research into the baby boomer generation shows that they want to remain engaged and purposeful in their communities, and to remain mentally stimulated for as long as possible. The thought of ceasing work altogether at age 65 frightens 76% of this generation who have unequivocally stated they have no intention of exiting the workforce any time soon. More frightening to them, though, is the unpredictable cost of healthcare and treating illnesses in their old age – something which many of their retirement plans may not have calculated accurately. They’re also more likely to have living parents as well as adult children who may not yet completely have flown the feathered boomer nest.
The opportunities facing boomers in this exciting new life-stage are considerably vast, not least because these retirees have a certain appeal to them which the up-and-coming career junkies don’t. Over and above their irreplaceable experience and expertise, they bring with them a maturity and wisdom that simply can’t be taught. They’ve climbed the corporate ladder and pounded the boardroom table enough to know that it’s not what makes life fulfilling. They’re more flexible when it comes to negotiating work hours and they don’t have the personal pressures of their younger counterparts who in their spare time are getting married, having children and purchasing their first homes. Because they’ve reached that wonderfully satiated phase of working for pure personal pleasure and enjoyment, they’re less inclined to demand over-inflated incomes and all manner of added perks. In fact, they’re likely to become the darlings of the HR department showing little interest in employee benefits, career mapping, skills development, additional training or performance appraisals. They’ve entered that phase of life where they’re likely to be more interested in giving back than in taking what they can from society – and this, together with their energy and expertise, is a sure recipe for groundbreaking developments in the growth of the ‘second career’.
While many boomers intend retiring from their formal employment and then re-entering the workforce in a similar capacity, many are identifying this new life stage as an opportunity to do what they’ve always dreamed of doing but never could. For those with the backing of a solid retirement plan, this stage could mean starting a business using their hobby or passion as an enabler, whether it be writing, photography, travel or stamp-collecting. Without the pressure of having to generate a particular level of income, the retiree can explore all manner of business opportunities that don’t necessarily involve risk. For the financially secure retirees, assisting their adult children in their own start-ups or entrepreneurial pursuits is an appealing outlet for their skills. Over and above assisting their children financially, they have decades of business acumen to share with their offspring – ensuring that their knowledge is passed on and that the next generation of entrepreneurs is geared for success.
While the younger professionals may be technologically more enabled and possibly less daunted by the force of rapid innovation, boomers have proven to be adept at running businesses, implementing strategy and re-gearing for change, and these qualities should not be lost to the next generation. School governing bodies, company boards and non-profit organisations can only benefit from all that the retired boomer has to offer.
Part of the lifestyle financial planning process that we engage our clients in involves painting a picture of their retirement years. We encourage them to disregard all preconceptions of their golden years and to stand before a blank canvass representing life after 65. The opportunities are entirely endless and, in most cases, down-right exciting. Our advice to all soon-to-be-retirees is to throw away the retirement manual, put down the golf clubs and hold on to your arm chair. If you thought retirement was a comfortable holding bay before your final resting place, think again. Old age never looked this sexy.
Have a fabulous weekend!