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retiree and two grandchildren making crafts
Retirement - whatever that is today will be different tomorrow

How we defined Retirement is changing, again

The one constant in life is change; (and if you're about to retire in the next 10 years you ain't seen anything yet).

Retirement is going to come to us all whether we like it or not - and whether we’re prepared for it or not. So it makes sense to keep an eye on what's happening in that space - if not for yourself, for your ageing friends and parents.

Read in this article

Financial preparing more than financial planning

Redefining what retirement is now, and what it might become later, is going to be an ongoing part of life. Regardless of how you currently see retirement, it's fair to say entering retirement years is becoming ‘more a slowing down to change gears to enjoy the journey,’ rather than a ‘stopping the journey altogether.

Modern life and technology mean more and more retirees will choose part-time work to supplement their time and financial budget; some teaching, others consulting and for some even ‘finally’ starting a side business.

Modern retirees will require planning and preparing for at least 25+years of extra life so it's time to get used to having a professional financial advisor in your life too.

  • But thinking about life over the horizon for many people who are 30+ years away, can understandably feel ridiculous.
  • For others closer to that phase of life (or with older parents or friends approaching that phase fast) retirement is more a time of understanding the variety of changes and constant transitions that will be needed throughout retirement, rather than thinking it's only about pensions, annuities and superannuation accounts.

Regardless of where you are on the journey, the needs of new retirement life and work life have some surprising similarities.

The 5 Key Trends Changing the Retirement Horizon

Here are 5 megatrends that will change the way we (and our ageing parents and friends) see and need to prepare for their retirement.

1. The transfer of financial responsibility for investment selection and performance to the individual

Your financial ability to retire depends upon you - more than ever.

The responsibility for managing much of our retirement income continues to be pushed down to individuals and their need to make financial decisions about how retirement savings and superannuation funds are invested. Rising home values may see many people pushed out of reach of the aged pension and retiring without a home of your own, will require significantly different planning.

Pro Tip: Self Funded Retirement is another way of saying, ‘learning to live off the interest you make on your savings, investments and superannuation’.

The problem is that many older Australians have not grown up needing to make investment decisions as a regular part of everyday life. While Australia’s percentage of people who actively hold investments outside the direct residential property is growing at 36%, it's still relatively small compared with our American neighbours, whose household active share ownership is approaching 60% of their population (Gallup May 2022).

This means for Australians entering retirement this year, and for those of us who support them, working out what your investment appetite (or risk appetite) is and how to make your money last as long as possible in fluctuating markets, might be a very uncomfortable and recurring decision.
How we respond to this particular change will determine if our individual retirement is a comfortable one, a modest one or a financially strained one.

2. Living with Longer Lifespans

Medical advances and improvements in managing chronic health conditions in retirement is seeing a resulting increase in lifespans.

Previously people facing a cancer diagnosis expected a reduction in their lifespan, but now with modern medicine and pharmacology breakthroughs, many facing such a diagnosis can expect to live long and prosper.

Retirees are now having to decide how they will fund a life stage that could be more than a third of their lives (and what to do).

Meaningful activities and time are high on the list as is maintaining and managing interruptions to health. Not only does maintaining mobility in retirement help reduce the risk of falling as we get older, but it can also help with maintaining cognitive good health too.

In fact, the United Nations World Population Prospects suggests the current life expectancy in Australia in 2022 to be 83.79.

  • The good news is Australia enjoys one of the highest life expectancies in the world, ranking 8th out of 60 developed countries.
  • The hard news is, running out of money during retirement is one of the key concerns Australian retirees face as lifespans lengthen.

Far from the ubiquitous media advertising that presents images of retirees all walking effortlessly on a beach, all dressed in beige and with a Labrador dog -also in beige - with not a Zimmer frame in site, retirement will be in large part for many, about recovering from medical issues and better managing their health – mental and otherwise.

3. Giving back and Working Part-time

No longer a permanent exit from the workforce, retirement for many baby boomers is just another way to utilise and stretch their work abilities into new and varied work lives, whether that's a side gig or a monetised hobby.

The top reasons cited for this include;

  • The desire to keep active and feel productive
  • The desire to give back to their community through unpaid work
  • The desire to increase their own cash flow
  • The desire to escape permanent grandchild duties

4. Embracing Healthier Lifestyles - earlier

Maybe it's time to create better habits sooner. 

Giving up smoking and casting a watchful eye on increasing foods and increasing waistlines, moving towards healthier living is becoming a priority requirement, rather than an afterthought, for many people facing retirement.

Similar to the power of compound interest in an investment portfolio, the benefits of healthier living – starting small, starting early in life and maintained regularly, are the recognised habits that pay dividends in our later lives.

5. Preparing earlier to Transition Successfully

Successfully navigating pre-retirement and then retirement, requires more than just arriving with a healthy nest egg, a maxed out super fund and an account-based pension. Unless you see life as being about more than money, you won’t see the value in preparing more than just your money.

Retirement is becoming more of a series of transitions at different times for different reasons rather than a single life event – all benefiting from some closer thought and preparation. Throughout our working lives, we all develop significant skills, insights and abilities that can all contribute to our leisure lives too.

There are lots of small changes that people can do to help boost their retirement savings and thus their retirement awareness. It starts with a conversation and then with a strategy to help move in the right direction.

From proactively creating healthy habits and healthy relationships, where you put your focus and energy is usually where you get the most playoffs.


author pic drew browneDrew Browne is a specialty Financial Risk Advisor working with Small Business Owners & their Families, Dual Income Professional Couples, and diverse families. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His business Sapience Financial Group is committed to using business solutions for good in the community. In 2015 he was certified as a B Corp., and in 2017 was recognised in the inaugural Australian National Businesses of Tomorrow Awards. Today he advises Small Business Owners and their families, on how to protect themselves, from their businesses.  He writes for successful Small Business Owners and Industry publications. You can read his Modern Small Business Leadership Blog here. You can connect with him on LinkedIn Any information provided is general advice only and we have not considered your personal circumstances. Before making any decision on the basis of this advice you should consider if the advice is appropriate for you based on your particular circumstance.

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