Super balances can double if Australians work 10 years longer

Australia has a large untapped workforce of older Australians who would delay retirement for up to 10 years if they were able to switch careers and achieve a better work life balance, according to research.

The Colonial First State analysis found more than one in three Australians aged 45 to 65 were considering a career change in the next few years.

The CFS Second Half Research was conducted in May 2022 by Pureprofile with 1,000 Australian respondents who were employed and aged between 45 and 65 years.

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It found 58% of people who considered a career change would work longer in a new career than in their current line of work, with 46% saying they would work up to 10 years longer and a further 11% saying they would work more than 10 years longer.

The trend meant many older Australians could also double their superannuation savings by switching to a career they were more passionate about, according to CFS.

Modelling by CFS also found Australians in their second half of life could almost double the super they had by age 75 by taking time off to retrain before re-entering the workforce.

CFS compared the earnings and savings trajectory of three 50-year-olds on an average salary and average same super savings of $150,000, who took different paths towards retirement.

One of the people followed a ‘traditional retirement’ path, stopping work at age 65 while the others took two years off to retrain before re-entering the workforce in a revitalised career, one working full time and the other working part time (three days per week) to age 75.

According to the modelling, the person following the ‘traditional retirement’ path, would have $359,950 in their super fund when they retired at age 65 and then drawdown income, depleting their savings to $301,783 by age 70 and to $252,961 by age 75.

Meanwhile the 'career recharger’, who re-entered work in a full-time capacity on a slightly higher salary and worked longer, would have $451,322 if they retired at age 70, depleting their savings to $378,477 by age 75. If the ‘career recharger’ worked an extra 10 years after age 65, they would retire with $555,895 at age 75.

The ‘work/life resetter’ would re-enter work on a lower part-time salary and still retire with considerably more savings than the person who took the traditional retirement path, with $338,940 at age 70, depleting to $284,148 by age 75. However, if they continued to work for an extra five years they could retire with $403,715 at age 75.

CFS Superannuation chief executive, Kelly Power, said middle-aged Australians were reimagining the second half of their lives as an opportunity to pursue their passions and gain better work life balance.

“Our research shows that people don't see retirement as an end goal, but instead want to continue to learn, grow and explore – and that includes through changing careers and remaining in the workforce for longer,” Power said.

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