For wealthy individuals, increased life expectancy, better health and a sense of financial uncertainty are driving a wholesale re-evaluation of retirement, particularly in emerging markets.
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Even if a stabilisation of financial markets allows the wealthy to rebuild portfolios and regain confidence in the predictability of investment returns in the future, total confidence in the system will take time to return. It is also difficult to see any of the other factors noted above (longer life or better health) going into reverse.
For many, retirement age has become irrelevant. Most will keep on working in some form, and the rise of the Nevertiree will have a number of benefits for the economy and the corporate sector. As well as contributing both directly and indirectly to GDP, boards and businesses in the corporate and not-for profit sector will benefit from the wealth of experience remaining in circulation.
But, whilst working longer may make many wealthy individuals feel financially more secure and more personally fulfilled, it also raises a number of challenges for individuals, their families and society as a whole.
The critical issue for wealthy individuals who choose to decline a traditional retirement is that they do not defer the process of assessing finances, business interests and succession planning that would traditionally have taken place approaching retirement age. Ongoing discussion, both within families and with advisers, is critical.
Those who choose to work longer must still consider whether there is an optimum time for them to relinquish their business interests, or a need to change further the framework of their working lives. They must also consider the timing of and rationale for transfers of wealth within their families.
Whilst there is no universal, optimum solution for saving and succession by the older, working wealthy, there is no substitute for thinking hard about how best to approach these issues. Even if old age is still out of sight, it should not be out of mind.