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September 26, 2021

One in five Canadians expect they'll be working forever: report

Today's retirement challenge? Too much life, not enough savings.

So much so, that nearly one in five Canadian workers (17%) are fairly sure they'll never be able to afford to retire fully, according to study released by global bank HSBC.

Among the 15 countries surveyed, Canada had one of the largest proportions of workers who feel this way, followed closely by the United Kingdom (19%) and United States (18%).

Of those who are divorced or separated, the number jumps to 24% -- another indicator that so-called grey divorces, where a growing number of people are ending their marriages in their later years -- continue to crimp retirement plans.

Late-in-life divorce means that there's much less time to rebuild retirement assets and the numbers are startling.

The divorce rate among middle-aged and older adults has doubled during the past two decades, and the rate was 2.5 times higher for remarriages than for first marriages, according to figures from the National Center for Family & Marriage.

 Whereas if you were younger, in your 30s or 40s and you’re involved in a divorce and division of assets, there is still some time left to rebuild those assets,” she said.

On a more positive note, more than half (54%) of those that have already retired feel that things have actually worked out reasonably well. But that seems to be less true in this country.

Two fifths of retired Canadians (40%) admit they hadn't prepared adequately or at all for a comfortable retirement. Interestingly, a very small portion of those expect to have to go back to work to cover their financial shortfall -- which is considerably less than the 14% globally who expect to keep working.

But that may because many haven't really quit in the first place. For example, nearly half (47%) of respondents say they view work as a way to keep active physically and mentally, 41% say they like working, and 35% say staying on the job in some fashion will ease the transition into retirement.

But it's not going to be easy, warns HSBC Bank Canada Executive VP Betty Miao: "People want to slow down in later life and, while some welcome the chance to continue working, many may not. Where some people regard a comfortable retirement as a natural entitlement, for a growing number this is not the case."

Where do you fit in? Do you expect to work forever? Has a late life breakup increased the likelihood of that happening? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...