Retirement out, risk-taking in for many wealthy professionals

WEALTHY British professionals don't lose their appetite for risk when they reach 65, according to a new study.

Many Britons are seeking adventure in retirement Photo by Annie Leibowitz for UBS

The research from UBS Wealth Management challenges the belief that most affluent Britons want to put their feet up when they hit the traditional retirement age. Far from it.

UBS has concluded that wealthy professionals are rejecting retiring at 65 in favour of starting a business, pursuing an alternative career, or doing good work that benefits society.

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UBS’s Investor Watch report ‘Why should I retire? Retirement is not the same as old age’, found that work and retirement are no longer viewed as separate phases of life.

Instead, many wealthy individuals are opting to take greater risks to prolong their careers or carry out philanthropic work.

The survey was based on responses from investors with at least £250,000 in investable assets. Respondents were drawn from across the UK, with seven per cent based in Yorkshire and the Humber.

A UBS Wealth Management spokesman said: “Most of the retirement debate so far has been framed by the idea that people have to work beyond 65 because they can’t afford to stop.

“Our research finds that many want to carry on because they are defined by their work; they enjoy it too much to retire.

“People are opting to pursue alternative careers, following a long-held dream of launching or funding a business, or undertaking philanthropic and charity work in a serious way

“Another motivation for continued employment is the next generation. Leaving a meaningful legacy for family members is driving baby boomers to take risks to accumulate wealth.”

One of the respondents, Michael Norton, a social entrepreneur who is still working at the age of 73, said: “Some people see work as a means to an end and the reward is enjoying the fruits of their labour. I enjoy the labour more than the fruits.”

The survey found that 89 per cent of respondents enjoyed their work and 71 per cent regarded retirement as an opportunity to explore alternative or complementary careers. Only 23 per cent of the respondents saw themselves doing no work at all.

Nearly two thirds (65 per cent) said that they enjoyed working too much to retire, despite being able to afford it.

Nick Tucker, head of UK Domestic at UBS Wealth Management, said: “There is a clear shift in the retirement and savings landscape in the UK.

“Age-old motivations in financial planning for retirement, while not necessarily redundant, have changed.

“Retirement is no longer a hard stop event, but rather a phased period taking place over years or even decades.

“During this time, individuals may seek to take on new challenges, continue accumulating wealth or build legacies for future generations.”

The survey also showed that as professionals get older, their thoughts increasingly turn to legacy. For some this is about giving something back to society – 35 per cent said that the older they get, the more they want to support charity – but for most, it is all about being wise guardians of their family’s assets.

Sixty one per cent said that one of their main motivations in accumulating wealth today is to ensure they are able to leave a financial legacy for their family and loved ones.

Two thirds of respondents (66 per cent) said that their knowledge and expertise would be valuable to a charitable cause.

Another respondent, Marcelle Speller, a business founder who sold her company, and set up Local Giving, an online platform for local charities, said: “If I can use some of the skills I have built up over the years, that’s wonderful.

“I feel I’ve built a platform and trained people so that their charities have the skills to survive in the 21st century.”