Wealthy elite have no interest in retiring

Almost two thirds of rich people in the UK want to keep working beyond the retirement age. Seems a bit odd to us.

by Hannah Prevett
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Come the age of 65, most people would be happy to put their feet up, sip on a medicinal sherry and light their pipe (government health warnings withstanding). But the same rules seemingly don't apply to the wealthiest people in the UK. According to a new survey, 60% of UK high net worth individuals want to keep working and say they will ‘never’ retire. Strong words indeed (although perhaps it's easier to say when you have a fat salary and private healthcare). The Government will be pleased by the news as it’s currently trying to persuade people to work longer. But why are these people opting to work longer? It’s not like they need the money...

The survey, from Barclays Wealth, found that workers in the UK are among those most inclined to keep their nose to the grindstone in their twilight years. In the US, 54% of well-off workers want to keep on working, while just 34% in tax-haven-to-the-rich Switzerland plan to keep slogging away beyond retirement age.

One possible hypothesis is that rather than looking forward to spending more time on the golf course, 77% of these so-called ‘Nevertirees’ (shudder) view this period as ‘just another phase of their life’. In other words, the traditional retirement age no longer marks any significant milestone in terms of their general lifestyle. Easy to say when you haven’t been grafting in a manual job for the past 45 years...

Barclays seems to be as much in the dark about the reasons for this uber-work ethic as we are. David Semaya, head of Barclays Wealth for UK and Ireland Private Bank, said: ‘There are a number of factors driving the notion of 'nevertirement', and whilst higher life expectancies and concerns about an unpredictable economy are almost certainly relevant, it is fascinating to see that wealthy people are continuing to work for a variety of other reasons, and that this appears to be something that is set to continue.’ Which isn't terribly insightful, but there you go.

Still, we have to remember that this survey isn’t exactly representative of the general populace (in fact, only 2,000 of Barclays Wealth wealthy customers were interviewed globally and asked to consider what retirement means to them). For the majority, we imagine that retirement can't come soon enough. Although with pensions as they are, lots of people are going to be working past retirement age - not because they want to, but because they have to.

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