Prior to the 18th century the average life expectancy was between 26 and 40 years old. Generally speaking that didn’t leave a lot of time for people to focus on retirement. In 1883, German Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck announced that anyone over 65 years old would be forced to retire and they would pay a pension to them. In the mid 1800s certain United States municipal employees including firefighters, policy and teachers, started receiving pensions. By the 1920s pension plans gain more popularity as industries including railroads, oil workers and banking started offering pensions as well. Needless to say the idea of retirement is a relatively new idea for people which gained popularity in 20th century. So now, in the 21st century, is retirement still the ultimate goal for people?
The idea of retirement has been evolving over the last number of decades as the jobs that people were performing evolved. Somewhere along the way there were less jobs and more careers. People in North America should consider ourselves so lucky that we are offered the opportunity to pursue our passions… and make money doing so. This has led to many people working longer because they are enjoying what they do. In my opinion this is a trend that is likely to continue as people become more concerned with how they are living and not putting off experiences until later in life. Now you might think that I am only speaking about our millennial clients here but in fact this is a noticeable trend in other generations as well including our baby boomer clients. The mindset of people has changed in that many are not willing to put off living today in hopes of having a better life in the future. Frankly, this is part of the advice I have been giving to clients as well.
So if not retirement then what should the goal be? Personally, I have always felt that the idea of financial freedom is a lot more inspiring than the idea of retirement. Retirement seems to have the connotation that it’s a dead stop in what you are doing. That suddenly you will pick up the golf clubs every day, babysit your grand kids and travel the world. The problem is that in many ways’ life gets in the way of that and there is also the challenge of dealing with a loss of purpose. For the majority of your life you have found daily purpose in performing your duties to your company or to your career. To expect that you can snap your fingers one day and have an easy transition away from that is unrealistic for most. This is why I prefer to recommend a goal of financial freedom meaning that you get to the point where you no longer need to work but you choose to. You have built up enough of a networth and have the resources at your disposal that no matter what happens in your life you can continue to live the lifestyle you choose. If you are still finding your career rewarding and impactful then you continue. If you want to take 6 months off to travel, you can and come back with a fire to do something else.
The idea of retirement can be scary to a lot of people. For people who have been busy throughout their lives it can feel like a death sentence. Perhaps it’s time that we start rephrasing our goals and start thinking more about how we want to live today and in the future. Freedom sounds a lot more inspiration than being forced to retire in my opinion.
-Grant White, CIM®, CFP®
Grant White is a Portfolio Manager/Investment Advisor at Endeavour Wealth Management with Industrial Alliance Securities Inc, an award-winning office as recognized by the Carson Group. Together with his partners he provides comprehensive wealth management planning for business owners, professionals and individual families.
This information has been prepared by Grant White who is a Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iA Securities) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iA Securities. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Portfolio Manager can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered.