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(Kenneth Mellott)
(Kenneth Mellott)

Careers

Retiring means you continue working Add to ...

A majority of Canadians think they will have to continue working in some form after they retire from their current jobs.

A new survey, conducted by the research firm Gandalf Group for advertising agency Bensimon Byrne, shows that about 55 per cent of people who are not yet retired expect to continue to do paid work part time in their current or a different field, or full time in a field different from the one they are in now, after they retire.

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And that retirement itself could come late: Almost one in five people expect to retire after the age of 70, according to the survey of 1,500 Canadians conducted in September.

Only about one-third said they intend to retire before age 65.

The key reasons for this are economic, said Bensimon Byrne chief executive officer Jack Bensimon. "It's a realization that the lifestyle aspirations that they have won't be affordable if they don't maintain a reasonable income."

This is a "new reality" that many people are just now beginning to understand, he said. "It's the end of 'Freedom 55.'"

Still, while financial factors are paramount, some people do want to keep working because they like it, he said. "There are segments of the population who find reward in work, and … for some people, it is a calling. They don't want to leave it entirely, or there are things work related that they didn't get a chance to do and they would like to explore in retirement."

The survey found that the closer people are to retirement, the more they think they will have to keep working in some form. Forty-one per cent of those aged 18 to 34 said they think they'll be able to stop work entirely when they retire, while only 27 per cent of those between age 50 and 64 expect a work-free retirement.

Indeed, fears about deteriorating finances are almost at the top of the list among retirement worries. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned that they will be poor after they retire. Only the fear of physical deterioration was a bigger worry, among almost 80 per cent of those who answered the survey.

Mr. Bensimon said the survey results show that Canadians are "starting to run headlong into the lack of proper planning that [they]have done to fund their lifestyles." That, combined with the setbacks that hit many retirement portfolios as a result of the economic meltdown "are leaving people saying 'I'm going to be working longer than expected.'"

The study showed that the vast majority of respondents are counting on their personal savings, along with government programs such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, to fund their retirements. A minority have any kind of company pension.

"On the public policy side, there are big red flags in here about people's expectations," Mr. Bensimon said. "The government is going to have to deal with underfunded pensions and [take into account]people who are counting on social assistance for the largest portion of their income. The sustainability of that is probably going to be an issue that plagues governments for the next 30 or 40 years."

Mr. Bensimon said that, from a marketer's perspective, the message of the survey is that there is great potential in selling goods and services that relate to working life, to people over the usual age of retirement but who are still in the work force. These might include work clothing, upscale cars and short vacations.

Among people who are already fully retired, the survey showed that the biggest increase in spending since retirement is on travel. The biggest cut to spending is on personal clothing.

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