Boomers Don’t Want to “Retire”

boomersI went to a course on retirement sponsored for lawyers, and found many of my classmates there, all having practised law for approximately 40 years and being in their mid-60s.

In response to the speaker’s first question of who here wants to work forever, every lawyer naturally put up his or her hand, only to be told that on average each person has a major health crisis by age 69.5.

You could hear the finger counting as that fact was assessed.

In fact, lawyers like myself who  enjoy what they do and do plan on working for a great number of years henceforth, health permitting, have a great deal of trouble dealing with the issue of retirement, as the notion of not working seems foreign,distasteful and you have nothing else of personal value to do.

Anecdotally, it always appeared to me as a young man, that when that executive retired at the compulsory age of 65, planning to do all the things that he and his wife had delayed,  he invariably died of a heart attack. The speaker denied this as a “fact”, but I sensed the crowd remained sceptical.

Boomers want to continue working after they leave their primary profession or source of employment but in another capacity and on their own terms.

While many them are doing so to continue in the  high standard of lifestyle to which they have become accustomed, studies show that the majority of boomers want to continue working in some capacity, and doing something they enjoy, for many more years, again all health permitting.

Of the boomers who are not working or planning to do so beyond “retirement”, in most cases it is due to health concerns, layoffs and lack of employment opportunity, rather than any notion of sitting back and collecting a pension checque on a beach in Costa Rica.

In fact ,the whole notion of retirement, now that most boomers have reached age 65, has totally changed in its concept . Some of us remember what happened to people who retired in the late 60s or early 1970s only to have their savings ravaged by inflation and having to bitterly return to the workforce for financial reasons.

“Retirement” today has evolved into a newer concept of no longer doing your primary career.

Boomers want  and almost  need to continue to work as they realize that they will not be able to live comfortably on most pensions, that they will statistically live longer, that their care could exhaust their savings, and that they need more capital in order to fulfil that likelihood.

As such, many boomers continue to seek a source of income, while at the same time their monthly expenses have typically decreased. This avoids spending excessive capital and depleting one’s retirement savings.

I found it odd that a very large law firm recently went to the Supreme Court of Canada over the issue that their partnership forced partners to leave upon turning age 65. The law firm won for legal reasons relating to the terminology used in the partnership agreement.

I sympathized with the lawyer who wanted to continue working, as undoubtedly he still has several years of productive work ahead of him after garnering approximately 40 years experience.

Employers should recognize that it costs a great deal of money to retrain experienced employees. Employees or professionals with 40 years experience who are still willing and able, bring a large group of very experienced people with a lot of knowledge and  social sophistication to any prospective employer or customer.

Another advantage of hiring or working with boomers is that three quarters of them are prepared to accept lower salaries in return for greater flexibility of lifestyle, less stress,and the sense of being valued, as opposed to having been put out to pasture.


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