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Grey Matters

28 January 2019

Grey Matters

As I march towards it myself, government figures out last week show that there are a record number of over 50’s now in the workforce.

The figures show that there are over 10.6 million in the workplace, equivalent to one in three of all workers. As far back as 1992, this age group represented only 21%.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills warns that between 2012 and 2022 it expects 12.5 million vacancies to be created as people leave the workforce, while an additional 2 million jobs will emerge – the problem is just 7 million young people will enter the workforce in that time. Employers must overcome age prejudice to meet staff needs during high employment.

Meanwhile, improvements in health and medicine mean pension ages are becoming higher and the population of over 50’s is growing. The number of self-employed over-65’s in the UK has doubled in the past five years to nearly half a million. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics says 36 percent of over-65’s will still be working by 2024 – up from 22 percent in 1994.

So, this clearly means that those who most need financial education and advice are going to make up more and more of the working population as they return to work and continue their careers, and climb further up the corporate ladder.

The level of financial awareness at this age should be much better, but that’s not my experience necessarily. Yes, you probably know when the mortgage is repaid, roughly when the kids are going to move out and when your pension can kick in, but these are all far too general to allow your people to plan properly.

Ask your average 50+ employee how much they have in their pension scheme, and where it is invested and they are likely to look at you like you have asked for their PIN number. These are the most basic of details, and you would hope that many have plugged this into a much wider financial plan, but the UK workforce doesn’t tend to engage in these things unless they have been given a reason to do so.

This is where employers are starting to acknowledge that financial wellbeing ranks right up there with mental wellbeing, as so many of the worries people have are money related.

Many of this working generation are active engagers with technology, and there are many solutions out there that deliver innovative ways of getting the information into peoples’ hands when it is needed, using triggers to message and inform. Flexible benefits systems don’t do this as a rule, there needs to be more done to integrate this sort of messaging into annual benefit windows and those systems that are used on an ongoing basis. Many employers offer a platform that will give discounts on high street brands such as restaurants and department stores, online supermarkets and holidays, but the saving is only part of the story, completing that loop with some messaging at the same time can and will resonate with employees. Do you want to be able to afford those holidays in retirement?

Employers may not feel the need to go any further than this, but many do. Providing a blend of face to face with technology is a popular choice nowadays. Financial awareness often comes from discussion, and seminars which are tailored for certain age groups can be a very effective way of focusing that discussion. Clearly, the generation about to take steps towards retirement do not need to hear the same as those entering the workplace for the very first time. Choosing a partner for this is very important, and deciding on how far you actually want to go as an employer is very important as well. Not many will take the step of subsidising the advice, but this is possible up to £150 per employee per annum on a pension basis which is a tax free benefit. Employers can look to save money around salary exchange if they have not already done so, to fund this type of investment.

The workplace is generally regarded by all as the communication portal in todays age. Those employers who do embrace this will reap the benefits of productivity, the numbers stack up. Financial wellbeing in the over 50’s will be key to that retirement journey for many, so think about that as a first move if you haven’t done anything yet.