Late career changes: the future for retirement?

Is this your future job?

As Katie Van Leeuwen finds out, baby boomers expect to ‘retire’ from their current job and launch into an entirely new career later in life. 

Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group recently conducted ‘The New Retirement Survey’ and suggest baby boomers “fundamentally will reinvent retirement.” The survey returned some interesting results. One of the most interesting is the discovery of the new retirement “turning point.” The survey found that while 76% of baby boomers intend to keep working and earning in retirement, on average they expect to ‘retire’ from their current job/career at around age 64, and then launch into an entirely new job or career.

Funnily enough, my mum did that a couple of years ago, and my dad is looking into it now.

My mum has been an accountant forever. She started out working in a bank after leaving school at the completion of year 10 (I still wonder why I wasn’t allowed to leave at year 10 if she did) then worked her way up the corporate ladder until she became Chief Financial Officer of one of the biggest multi-national companies there is. Then, my younger sister started year 7 and mum decided to quit the corporate game and become a TAFE teacher.

At the time I was devastated. I loved the freebies she used to get from her work. I loved going into her fancy office with floor to ceiling windows and harbour views and pretending to be her secretary. Obviously she was earning a few dollars. So when she came home and said “kids, I’m going to be a teacher!” I died a little inside, because I knew what teachers were paid and even if I was 15, I knew it was nowhere near as much as she was getting.

Being somewhat of a spoilt teenager at that stage (past tense!) I immediately thought about what I might miss out on because of my mum’s pay decrease. I wasn’t nearly mature enough to think about why she was completely changing her career. So life went on and amazingly, I eventually understood why my mum flipped on her profession for something very new. A change of pace, a bit of relaxation, more than four weeks holiday a year, new people, closer to home, the list goes on.

My mum – what a trend-setter! What a great way to change you lifestyle as you ease into retirement. The survey also found, as a result of living longer, baby boomers plan to be ‘younger’ for longer and to work longer.

“Most baby boomers who responded to the survey (65%) will stop working for pay and retire in the traditional sense at some point. However, that phase is more likely to begin in the late 60’s than at age 60 or 65.”

My dad, now 54, who has worked for the same company since he began as an apprentice in telecommunications at the ripe young age of 15, is now looking at how he can, in his words, “switch it up.” He’s thinking he wants to work at Bunnings. Apparently it’s the only thing he’s ever really wanted to do, and now that he’s thinking about retirement, why not start something new for his last few years as a working class man?

Katrina Van Leeuwen


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