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Life after work

Seniors are doing it for themselves

12 October 2017

Elderly man looking into camera

Money & Life team

Money & Life contributors draw on their diverse range of experience to present you with insights and guidance that will help you manage your financial wellbeing, achieve your lifestyle goals and plan for your financial future.

Newcastle-based lawyer Lyn Lucas has been practicing family law for 25 years. She is also 76. Lucas studied law as a mature age student, and seven years ago created an online legal practice, Online Divorce Lawyer. This came about as she was looking to lessen the stress of practising law full time.

Creating such a unique practice resulted in her being invited to present to the NSW Law Society in 2016. In their final report Lucas received four recommendations for her innovative practice and use of technology.

“The Family Law Act legislation applies nationally, and I have clients all over Australia,” says Lucas. “My mission is to keep clients out of the Family Court and I only act for clients who can agree on their property division.”

She now works from home, has much less stress and happier clients – who love the fact that she offers fixed fees.

Silver foxes

Now in his 79th year, Art Beavis created his business, SilverTemp, seven years ago, which exclusively places seniors in casual and part-time work in the Norther Rivers of NSW area. Some of the many benefits his clients report on hiring mature aged workers include that they “are reliable, have a strong work ethic and really want to work”.

Other qualities Beavis says senior workers possess are:

  • Initiative
  • Ability to mentor younger employees
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Use time effectively
  • Rarely need to be taught a job from scratch.

Beavis is now expanding his business into the Tweed Valley to bring the benefits of employing seniors to that region.

Horses for courses

Leading Australian health, medical, wellness and technology business, Niagara, makes health medical equipment for horses and humans. The company employs many older workers.

National group manager, Ian Bellion, located at the company’s Brisbane headquarters, says: “We like to hire older Australians because they are generally more stable by this time in their life and they relate well to our clientele’s demographics. They are generally clear in their thinking and focus well on the task  ahead,” he says.

Bellion says seniors bring “a myriad of life skills to the business”. He says seniors embrace teamwork actively as a result of having experienced different types of team work throughout their life.

Retire busy

Jill Weeks is a director of Lifestyle Matters, a retirement specialist consultancy based in Melbourne. She is the author of 21 Ways To Retire, co-author of several editions of Where To Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi, which has 101 case studies of people who refused to retire or retired and didn’t like it, so started home based businesses and profitable hobbies.

Weeks gives this case study example from her book.

“Carol Jones did the big tree change some time ago. She lives in rural NSW and has established a business that sells via the internet. She is known as the Ironing Diva, because she sells quality ironing board covers, and many other products. In fact, she has over 400,000 customers in 30 countries,” says Weeks. “Retirement for Carol? Don’t even mention the word.”

Job hunting for the over-50s

Although there is good news for older employees, many know that if you lose your job once you are over 50 it can be hard to get back into the workforce.

Sue Parker, career and business coach, of the DARE Group Australia says “there can be appalling levels of conscious and unconscious ageism. Although this age-bias is mostly illogical, unlike other biases to gender or race, everyone will become older,” she says.

The first thing Parker says to do is change your mindset. Instead of being a “pleading job hunter”, think of yourself as “a valued business person who is exploring job opportunities”. She says the change in energy will show in everything you communicate.

Parker says there are seven key biases that can exist on the side of the company doing the hiring:

  • Relevant modern or transferrable skills
  • Technology, social media and digital capabilities
  • Salary expectations
  • Level of role
  • Energy levels
  • Cultural fit
  • Do you align into the company’s values and visual brand?

To address these she recommends you tackle them in direct and creative ways, such as your CV, your LinkedIn profile and practice how you will do this during phone contact with the hirer and in the interview.

Another great tip Parker has in being proactive in your job hunt is to write a list of companies and people you would like to work for and explore opportunities.

“Craft an email sharing your passion for their business and how your skills can help them. Rather than attach a CV consider sending a one page marketing flyer of your skills. Then follow up with a call.”

Find a financial planner to help you

An experienced financial planner can become a great sounding board for someone who is not ready to retire, because they work with many successful people across many professions and occupations. A planner can also take a look at your whole financial picture including your eligibility for government benefits, your tax position and your overall retirement income. It could be that a part-time job in retirement would work for you.

Melbourne-based CERTFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional Owen Weeks, of Lifestyle Matters, says it’s a good idea to find a planner who is of a similar age, with a similar philosophy about retirement.

“My own view is that retirement is a fatally flawed concept,” says Weeks. “Why not find something you enjoy doing, and do it for as long as you possibly can?”