Rejecting retirement with "nevertirement"

Work/retirement crossroads sign.

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: Perhaps it is time to retire the idea of retirement. A report out this week from MetLife says the first wave of Baby Boomers already find themselves redefining what retirement means. And what it means is more work.

They can't retire -- because they haven't saved enough money. But across the pond in Britain, another survey has identified an altogether different phenomenon. It's called "nevertirement." Wealthy workers who can well afford early retirement are postponing it indefinitely. By choice.

From London, Marketplace's Stephen Beard reports.


Stephen Beard: Ah retirement! A chance to take it easy at last, after 40 years or more of toil. But it's not a prospect that appeals to 67-year-old entrepreneur Dick Pyle.

He sold his stake in a successful London restaurant nine years ago, decamped to the French countryside like a lot of British retirees. Except Dick now runs another thriving business.

Dick Pyle: Hello, Truffle Tree, can I help you?

He has built up a profitable company in France called Truffle Tree, growing that fungal delicacy. Retirement couldn't be further from his mind.

Pyle: I don't know what I'd do if I retired. People just sit around and drink or play golf. It's not how I want to spend the rest of my life really.

Dick is a "Nevertiree," one of a fast growing breed identified in a recent survey by private banking group Barclays Wealth. Greg Davies helped compile the survey.

Greg Davies: There's an overwhelming trend for wealthy people to say they fully intend to continue working, being involved in productive activity, well after what we might think of as the standard retirement age.

Barclays surveyed 2,000 people with at least $1.5 million to invest. To the bank's surprise, more than half of those polled in the U.S. and the U.K. said they will give retirement a miss. And these were not always the restless, driven, go-getting type.

Davies: It's not true only of those entrepreneurs who've built up their own businesses. It seems to be equally true across our entire sample including people who are wealthy because they've inherited their wealth.

Among those determined to carry on working until they drop: doctors, lawyers and economists.

Andrew Hilton: I'm Andrew Hilton. I'm the director of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation and I'm 63.

Only two years to go then before Andrew could slip into well-heeled and well-deserved retirement. But says Andrew -- forget it. He's soldiering on.

Hilton: Unfortunately perhaps my job and my life have become so intertwined that I can't really envisage not working.

And that is the key to this urge to carry on working even among people who can easily afford to retire. Sarah Harper is Professor of Gerontology at Oxford University.

Sarah Harper: People get a lot more out of work. They get status. They feel they are making a contribution. They network. There's a purpose in their life. And I think therefore the reason we are increasingly are finding people who saying, actually I want to stay on is because of all those other factors, not just financial ones.

And there's another major consideration: life expectancy. Retire at 60 and you could easily face up to 30 years of pottering around the golf course or chilling out beside the pool. Now that sounds like really hard work.

In London, I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace Money.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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