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WSJ: Why Rich People Never Retire
Old 09-27-2010, 02:40 PM   #1
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WSJ: Why Rich People Never Retire

Sure, it could be because they like their work. Or because they have no imagination at all.


http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2010/09/...od=rss_WSJBlog

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A new study from Barclay’s Wealth, titled “The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement,” suggests that even millionaires and multimillionaires are planning a lifetime of work. And the reasons are surprising.
The study, which polled 2,000 people with $1.5 million or more in investible assets, found that 54% of millionaires say they want to continue working in retirement. Even the very wealthy aren’t giving up work. Globally, 60% of those with a net worth of $15 million or more plan to stay involved with work “no matter what their age.”
Barclays calls them “Nevertirees.” Longer life spans are one reason, along with an increasingly uncertain financial picture. But the study says a large reason the wealthy want to keep working is because they enjoy it.
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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What they want to do and what they actually can due (because of age-related problems) are two different things.

46% have already said (as inferred in the article) they would not continue to work. Of the 54% that said they would continue, it did not state that these folks were actually in their retirement years. Just that this was their desire once they got there.

Plans vs. reality often are not the same. The poll would have been better if they would have actually polled those in retirement to see what the breakdown was.

I'm not saying that there are not those (with a bit of money) that want to continue "working" in some sense (and that's their option, even if it is not my desire) but the "study" is questionable in its rigor of analysis, IMHO.
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:57 PM   #3
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It's true that a lot of successful people define themselves by what they do. It's not clear to me whether they enjoy the work (although some do), they do enjoy the status, prestige, and sense of accomplishment that comes with excelling at something.

If you derive your self-worth by what you do, it's got to be pretty hard to walk away. One day you're an important executive and the next day you're nobody. Who wants to be a nobody?
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:06 PM   #4
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:13 PM   #5
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It's true that a lot of successful people define themselves by what they do.
I think really rich workers see the money as part of the scoreboard. They win the game in the third quarter but they still want to see if they can get the score into eight or nine digits.

I'm conflicted. It'd be nice for them to enjoy the fruits of their labors, but they're having a much bigger impact on saving Medicare by continuing to pay in their share of their earned income... if they're doing no harm then they might as well keep having their fun by working.
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:24 PM   #6
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Funny, when I worked for myself I thought I'd work until I was in my 70s... I'd be the crazy guy up in the lab at night tinkering with stuff... now that I work for someone else I can't wait to retire.
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Old 09-27-2010, 03:27 PM   #7
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It's because they can delegate all the grunt work and they really love having people suck up to them.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:23 PM   #8
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I also wonder how many can really retire in a manner that would suit them even if they wanted to. $1.5MM ain't a lot of scratch for someone used to living the high life.
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:26 PM   #9
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I also wonder how many can really retire in a manner that would suit them even if they wanted to. $1.5MM ain't a lot of scratch for someone used to living the high life.
I was wondering about the definition of "wealthy". If I convert everything in my portfolio to $ (the numbers in my signature are in Euros) I end up at about $1.25M. I don't consider myself remotely "wealthy".
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Old 09-27-2010, 04:48 PM   #10
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Plus, those ones with over $15M in value who are going to stay involved with work, "no matter what their ages". I wonder how many of them own their businesses, and intend to stay involved by deal making on the golf course and keeping an office to get away from the spouse with, while someone else is driving the truck or soldering the pipes or whatever. I can do that type of work. One of my goals was always to sit on the front porch sipping mint juleps and watching the migrant workers pick the peanuts.
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:08 PM   #11
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One of my goals was always to sit on the front porch sipping mint juleps and watching the migrant workers pick the peanuts.
Peanuts aren't picked. The whole plant is pulled from the ground by a machine, allowed to dry some on the ground and then picked up by another machine.
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:40 PM   #12
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I also wonder how many can really retire in a manner that would suit them even if they wanted to. $1.5MM ain't a lot of scratch for someone used to living the high life.
Bingo!
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Old 09-27-2010, 05:57 PM   #13
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Sure, it could be because they like their work. Or because they have no imagination at all.
Nothing wrong with retiring, we all hope to some day. But unless I mistake your meaning, your second line almost sounds as though retiring is the only desirable course, the most noble thing a person can do. Is that correct?
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:05 PM   #14
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I also wonder how many can really retire in a manner that would suit them even if they wanted to. $1.5MM ain't a lot of scratch for someone used to living the high life.
Good point. I know several senior officers who have no idea how much they spend or how much they'd need to budget for retirement.

In their defense, from their perspective it makes perfect sense. They make more money than they need, they can't imagine ever being laid off (especially the ones who chase professor tenure), and they can't imagine ever stopping working.

And if they really need to know any of those answers, they'll hire a CPA and a CFP.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:54 PM   #15
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Peanuts aren't picked. The whole plant is pulled from the ground by a machine, allowed to dry some on the ground and then picked up by another machine.
Way to ruin a man's dream. Guess I'll have to have a watermelon plantation.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:30 PM   #16
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Plus, those ones with over $15M in value who are going to stay involved with work, "no matter what their ages". I wonder how many of them own their businesses, and intend to stay involved by deal making on the golf course and keeping an office to get away from the spouse with, while someone else is driving the truck or soldering the pipes or whatever. I can do that type of work. One of my goals was always to sit on the front porch sipping mint juleps and watching the migrant workers pick the peanuts.
I was thinking this too, how do they define work? A board meeting once a month? I noticed on my company's board of directors there are quite a few 70+ year olds that are multi-millionaires and that have made their fortunes elsewhere. I am not sure exactly what they do....but if they just sit on the board of directors for 10 different corporations and go to quarterly meetings?!? I think I could handle that
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Old 09-28-2010, 12:29 AM   #17
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I work in a scientific environment. I can easily see a successful senior scientist wanting to continue to work past retirement age. They generally shed their bureaucratic responsibilities but they continue to do good science. It's the mid-level scientists, like myself, who stay in the lab past retirement, doing grunt work, that I don't understand. I can only surmise that they like the social environment at work, hate being at home, or can't think of anything else to do.
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:21 AM   #18
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No. I'm saying that I bet a lot of people who continue working at what they've always done until they die, despite not needing the dough, "suffer" from a lack of imagination. Meaning they can't envision themselves doing anything else, like teaching, writing, painting, volunteering, parenting, grandparenting, etc. Life is short and full of possibilities, but I think human beings (or maybe just Americans) can easily fall into the trap of self-esteem defined solely by work. I "semi-retired" for a year and was feeling out of touch, so went back to a big job in the big city. Granted I was only 39 at the time, but I still was pretty disappointed (in myself) that I couldn't break the mold.


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Nothing wrong with retiring, we all hope to some day. But unless I mistake your meaning, your second line almost sounds as though retiring is the only desirable course, the most noble thing a person can do. Is that correct?
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Old 09-28-2010, 06:59 AM   #19
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Meaning they can't envision themselves doing anything else, like teaching, writing, painting, volunteering, parenting, grandparenting, etc.
Yup, and it's not just the rich who fall in to this trap. Think of all the worker bees who ask "what will you do all day?" and "won't you be bored?"
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Old 09-28-2010, 07:06 AM   #20
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Yup, and it's not just the rich who fall in to this trap. Think of all the worker bees who ask "what will you do all day?" and "won't you be bored?"
I think the ones who believe "you stop, you die" are even more disturbing...
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