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Retirees make a comeback
The number-crunchers at the Australian Bureau of Statistics have come up with the actual number of Australians who had fully retired but have since either returned to work or are planning to look for work. Given the rapid ageing of the population, typically inadequately retirement savings and the highly volatile investment markets, the phenomenon of having a change of heart about retirement is clearly on the rise.

And then there are the factors of greater longevity and improvements in health. Based on its 2010-11 Multipurpose Household Survey, the ABS reports that 228,000 retirees over 45 fell into in this category at the time of the survey. (See http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6238.0)

The big three reasons for coming out of retirement (or at least wanting to) are financial need (41 per cent), "bored or needing something to do" (28 per cent), and an "interesting opportunity came up" (18 per cent).

Perhaps the most efficient way to stretch retirement savings is to return to work (or to postpone retirement for a few years). It's obvious. By remaining at work, you have an opportunity to save more for retirement and, significantly, you do not have to draw down on your retirement savings at this point.

Further, more retirees are finding that a retirement lifestyle is not necessarily meeting their expectations.

The authors of a special report on retirement published by The Economist magazine a couple of years ago summed it up well with the words: "Retirement has been overdone. The original idea [of retirement] was that people should enjoy a bit of rest after a life at work..." But with prevailing longevity rates, retirement could last quarter of a century or so, the magazine emphasised.

As Smart Investing has discussed in the past, some retirees who were forced to return to work because of the GFC's impact have found they actually enjoy it - regardless of the financial benefits. The possibility of returning to work - if a job is available - provides another avenue for healthy retirees who are determined to preserve their retirement savings for as long as possible.

 

By Robin Bowerman
Smart Investing
Principal & Head of Retail, Vanguard Investments Australia

17th January 2011

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