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The retirement revolution


Nearly one in three* working Britons plans to change their career in retirement

The way we look at retirement is changing. Almost half of the nation’s retirees are redefining the end of their working lives, with almost one in 10 choosing to change careers and one in 20 starting their own business.

Our study has revealed a shift towards active retirement with most retirees motivated to make changes to keep active (43%) or follow their passion (20%). While one in ten say they need to maintain a flow of income, more retirees (11%) say they just don’t want to stop working.

Working Population Gears Up for New Retirement era

The working population is already planning ahead, with 30% of working Britons planning to change career path when they retire, either by starting a new career, setting up a new business, or becoming a consultant. A fifth plan to continue learning, either through academic, vocational, or language courses.

One in six see maintaining a regular income stream as the key to their retirement plans and one in eight predict that they won’t want to stop working. A third aim to use their retirement to follow their passion or keep active, while nearly one in five wants to give back to their community.

As life expectancy increases the outlook differs between those on the brink of retirement and those who have already retired. While 71% of the retirees surveyed retired around or earlier than the age they expected, more than half (54%) of workers over 50 say they will retire later than they initially expected when starting out their career, with more than one in five (21%) now believing that they will retire over the age of 70.

Find out about your retirement options

* 30% of those surveyedYounger generations face an even more uncertain landscape. An analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports show that on average 30 year‐olds will work until they are 66 and live until they are 87, with nearly one in five reaching 100. With 20‐30 years potentially spent in retirement, savvy workers are acknowledging the need to have a plan, and are already preparing for an active retirement. One in six workers under the age of 50 does not expect to retire until they are in their70s, with one in three fearing they won’t be financially comfortable enough to retire earlier.

Wendy Loretto, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, University of Edinburgh Business School, who worked with us on the study said: “As our society adapts to an ageing population, the way we perceive and plan for retirement has had to evolve. The reality is that we are not all able to stop working at 65, and this is likely to become even later in the future. With this in mind, people are adopting a new attitude towards this life stage and are starting to view working later in life as a positive opportunity rather than a burden.

“The Oxford Dictionary defines retirement as ‘the action of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work’ but these changes are so stark that this definition may have to be rewritten.”

Robert Cochran, key accounts pension development manager at Scottish Widows, said: “More and more people are seeing retirement as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, re‐claiming time to focus on doing things they might not have had the chance to during their younger, working lives.

“However there is an increasing pressure in approaching a stage of life which is starting to differ from people’s expectations, but this transition is far less intimidating if they have a plan. Being realistic about what the future holds in a changing world enables them to best prepare themselves for the future they want.”


  • This survey by OnePoll was conducted with 2,700 people across Britain in October – November 2013
  • Analysis of the ONS data was compiled for Scottish Widows by Stephen Lucas, Development Economics, in 2012


Our recent study shows that 30% of working Britons are planning to change career path when they retire. What are your plans for retirement? Read case study

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