Older entrepreneurs say they're not ready to retire

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Date: 23 June 2020

Old entrepreneur assistant with digital tablet in small grocery store

Two-thirds of business owners over the age of 55 say they will "never stop" working - out of choice rather than necessity.

New research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance has found that the legal retirement age is just a number for most business owners and entrepreneurs, particularly those closest to it.

The study has found that those over 55 are more likely to say they would never stop working than any other age-group, as well as being more likely to say this was out of choice.

Key findings include:

  • 63% of business owners over 55 say they will never stop working, at least in some capacity (part-time or otherwise), compared with 53% of younger business owners;
  • 67% of those planning to work past the legal age of retirement said this was because they loved their jobs, rather than out of necessity.

Of those that did know what age they would be retiring, 82% of business owners over 55 said they would work past the legal retirement age, while 37% said they would want to work into their 70s. By contrast, across all age-groups, only 39% say they plan to work past 65 and just 16% plan to work into their 70s.

However, the research also found that a large proportion of older business owners had no clear long-term plans for their business. One in four (25%) admitted they simply did not know what they would do once they stopped working, while almost half (47%) said they would simply close the business on retirement.

A far smaller proportion (15%) had plans to sell the business, and 12% had plans to pass it down to their children or to other partners in the business. The findings come at a time when longevity continues to improve, with the average life expectancy at birth in the UK rising to 79.9 for men and 83.6 for women.

Joanna Morris, head of marketing and insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: "For many people who have set up a business - spending an entire career developing and nurturing it into the enterprise that it is today - the idea of doing anything else may seem quite alien. 70 is no longer considered old, with many of today's so-called retirees being healthier, living longer and retiring at different ages. The wealth of knowledge and experience that they bring is of enormous benefit to a company, particularly at this time of uncertainty.

"While this is great news, what is a concern is that such a large proportion have not thought of what will happen in the long term. The reality is that for a business to achieve significant growth, there needs to be a detailed plan in place."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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