Build your balance

Phased retirement is something we will hear a lot of in the next 15 years as baby boomers hit their 60s. Recent research by Russell Investments, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, shows 41 per cent of full-time workers expect to shift to part-time work before retiring, while 20 per cent don't expect to retire at all.

Phased retirement is something we will hear a lot of in the next 15 years as baby boomers hit their 60s. Recent research by Russell Investments, based on Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, shows 41 per cent of full-time workers expect to shift to part-time work before retiring, while 20 per cent don't expect to retire at all.

The significance of this for fund managers is that both groups will continue to pour money into super for many years to come.

For those over 55, part- or full-time work provides an opportunity for the re-contribution to super from money earned.

A Newspoll survey shows 43 per cent of baby boomers expect to work past 65, with 57 per cent of middle-income earners citing financial need as the main reason.

Higher income earners say they want to continue working because they enjoy it. They reject the long-standing view of retirement and want to change down a gear, enjoying other interests while remaining in the workforce.

Russell analysed the figures to demonstrate the benefits of working longer.

A couple with a joint income of $85,000 who save until 60 before retiring with an income of $50,000 a year (with the woman assumed to have had 10 years out of the workforce), and who draw down from their $500,000 super balance at 60, will run out of money when they reach 79.

The same couple, having reduced their working hours to 60 per cent between age 60 and 65, will have $600,000 in the super kitty at retirement.

They will be able to draw down $50,000 a year until they reach 95.

That extra five years of part-time work, at two-thirds their previous pace adds 15 years to their draw-down phase.

Of course, not everyone can reduce their working hours and stay in the job they have. Many others would like to work but find themselves on the scrap heap much earlier.

They face being interviewed for jobs by 23-year-old recruiters who have no real understanding of what workers who don't look in the peak of youth can contribute. All they see are dinosaurs.

There is a mature-age employment agency that may help. XMSolutions.com.au - set up by Sam Leon, a former insurance salesman and motivation consultant - specialises in matching over-45s with employers looking for skilled older people.

For now, job applicants join the service free, although later there will be a small charge to cover the cost of processing CVs, arranging profiles online and conducting interviews.

Prospective employers pay $3000 for 12 months' access to the site of job applicant listings, which is a significant discount to the 17 to 20 per cent of the first year's pay that employment agencies commonly charge.

There is also the option of a $650 charge for a month's access to the job applicant skills database.

Leon sees his market as over-45s who want to work part-time or full-time but are disillusioned by their experiences with conventional recruitment firms. They will be able to market their skills to employers who are looking for their experience and expertise.

"They have a great deal of experience and are good mentors to younger staff," he says.

At present, the website deals with white-collar skills but eventually Leon expects to cover blue-collar skills.

As he says, there is a skills shortage. And a lot of laid-off and redundant employees want to find work.

This is one way of bringing the two together. And for them to ensure that they can draw down their retirement kitty until they are 94.


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