Transcript: Changing career in later life
Angellica: Welcome to Rewirement with me, Angellica Bell. This is the podcast where we share tips, inspiration, and stories from amazing people living colourful retirements brought to you by Legal and General. Life begins where the day job ends. So I'm on a mission to find out how you and I can take inspiration and wisdom from real people's retirement stories.
This time we're looking at what it means to successfully change career in later life. Yes, it is possible. If you've got a passion or a dream you'd like to turn into your work, or maybe you face redundancy in your 50s and are thinking of retraining, listen on because I'm speaking to two people who've aced it in their own unique ways.
I'll also be having a chat with Legal and General's Emma Byron and Stuart Lewis from Rest Less for the practical tips, mental, financial, and emotional they think you can use to change career in style. These days we're working longer, working later, and have on average five to seven career changes in our lives. That's quite a difference to the trade for life generations of yesteryear.
What's more, research says that the over 50s are responsible for a staggering 82% of the UK's employment growth. Sometimes though, even if you're enjoying your current job, life can force your hand. And that's what happened with my first guest Mick. He had four years notice when the colliery he was working at was set to close. But after a life's career in mining, he felt 51 was too young to retire. So Mick I think you're the only person I've ever spoken to with two red- footed tortoises.
Mick: Yes. It's a pity I didn't bring them in for you to have a look at. They get well looked after, believe me.
Angellica: Do they get better looked after than you?
Mick: Well, no. The wife looks after me like a king, I've got to say that.
Mick: After 46 years of marriage I think we're doing all right. She puts me in line now and again like a good lady should and that's what it's all about.
Angellica: Tell me about how you decided to approach a change of direction in later life.
Mick: Basically all started, we knew the colliery, all the pitchers people to call it, had a four year plan for closure. And as it got closer I thought, Oh my goodness, it's really going to happen this time.
And they started having interviews with people and asking you what you wanted to do. And there was what they call the regeneration bond at the time. They would help you pay for something if you wanted to do it. People were going in stupid, " Listen, I want to be a pilot and I want to be this and that." I really didn't know what I wanted to do.
And I was opening the local paper and I looked and it said, " Xscape are going to build a ski slope in Castleford." And I thought, wow! I've always skied, I want to be a ski instructor and the guy looked at me to say, " What?" I said, " Yeah." says " I'm quite a good skier", and I said, " It's something I'd like to do." He said, " Woah! This is your first one who has ever come to me with something like that." He says, " Find a course that you could go on and we'll pay for it."
So I did my research found out I could go do a Level One as it were called, the Snowspot England Level One. And I did it at Sheffield Ski Slope. And by the time I got everything sorted when it came down to the mine closing, luckily I got a job straight away.
And at the same time this says, " Have you drove a lot of machines down the coal mine?" I says, " Yeah." " How would you fancy being a driver on our machine on the slope?" So I says, " Wow! Yeah, I'll do all that as well." So not only am I a ski instructor, I'm the guy who actually looks after the slope. It's just been a bit of a dream come true really, so.
Angellica: I love that story because it's just quite a seamless transition. Knowing what you wanted to do, did that help with that transition and that emotional change that you had to go through?
Mick: Without a doubt. I think you've got to know what you want to do. There's a lot of people in life go around thinking someone's going to come to them. And it's nice if you know you've got a passion for something you want to do as well, which I really wanted to be a ski instructor. And the moment I became one my life changed.
Angellica: You touched on something really important about having a passion, but were you worried, Mick, that this passion that you're turning into a job it might go in a bit wrong?
Mick: Yeah. There's no doubt about that. I think the first day walking into the job I thought, Oh my goodness, have I done the right thing? But I think you've got to get over your fears and it depends what type of character you are. I've always been a bubbly character and I'll have a go at anything. And most things that I do do come out pretty well with it.
So I think having the right character as well knowing that you've just got to get out there and have a goal. I always say failure is on the road to success.
Angellica: What do you find the most enjoyable about this new career?
Mick: I think meeting lots of people. And not just meeting people, being able to pass on that passion. When you get on top of that mountain and you look down at that slope you think, wow, everybody should enjoy this. My oldest student, I think she was 75. My oldest student she came out and took to it like a duck to water. She was amazing.
And still comes back now skiing. We've got a chap, just before the last lockdown, 82 years old comes regular all the time. Probably once or twice a week he comes with his son. You know it's fabulous to see the buzz in people's eyes. So it's you got to come and try it.
Angellica: So what advice would you give to other people who are reaching that age of retirement and are a bit worried about it?
Mick: I think you've got to get a plan into place, there's no doubt about that. It's no use thinking, Oh, I'm just going to retire and do nothing because you can become an armchair statistic, and end up being on an iPad all day and doing nothing.
I've got a couple of friends of mine who only work two or three days a week, so they've retired and then still taken another job. But I've always said to people, " Make sure you've got a pension because pensions help you without a doubt."
My son I told him from the very word go, " Make sure you get a pension." And he's got a good pension at work and he's always paid extra into his pension so that when he comes to retire he'll have extra rather than just rely on what he's got to get.
It's important because at the end of the day when you finish working, you will earn the money probably what you did when you were working. And it depends if you want to carry on a good lifestyle or whether you want to just sit back and do nothing.
Angellica: And do you have two pensions now? One from the colliery and one from Snow Zone?
Mick: I've got the coal (inaudible) world pension. Yeah. And this in the Legal and General,
Angellica: Some people forget about the pensions they have as well. Lots of people have multiple ones, so it's good that you've got both, but make sure you know where it is and other members of your family do as well.
Mick: Yeah. My wife's good with finance. I've never paid a bill, believe it or not in my house. She sorts everything out. She worked at the local bank for years. She's edified and she's always looked after us, so that's good. And when my son makes any problems, he'll ring his mom and say, I need that, can you sort this out for me? So, she's the head of the family, no doubt.
Angellica: Do you think it's never too late to reinvent yourself?
Mick: Without a doubt, no, you've got to reinvent yourself. I think we're reinventing ourselves every day, don't we? I know where the iron is in the kitchen, but after all these years I still haven't used it. So I'm going to reinvent myself and I'm going iron something this next week, just for you, how's that?
Angellica: Mick's definitely got the balance right, a job he loves, great friends and plenty of time to spend with his wife, children, and grandchildren too. He's even been awarded a prestigious National Customer Service Award for his amazing work, getting people onto the slopes.
My next guest also made a change to her work at 50, but it was far from the end of her career. Jackie says she's probably going to still be working when she's a hundred. Jackie, today we're talking about changing career in later life. I like to call it reinvention.
Jackie: Yes, it was a number of years ago, I retired at the age of 50. I was lucky enough to be able to do that.
Angellica: Jackie, some people might say that you've had the best of both worlds because you did actually enjoy your career. So tell us about it.
Jackie: I was advised by my parents early on that going in [source, inaudible 00:09:33] I initially wanted to do, psychology, was not going to earn me lots of money. And I had to work out was that important to me? What was important to me, it was to do well for my family, at that point to support my family as I intended it to be going forward.
So I went into business and I joined various companies and ended up in a blue chip company and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to train, gain promotions. I ended up running the cargo division of an airline and on the way I educated myself, I took every course that was available. I developed myself in various specific aspects, but also gained academic qualification.
Angellica: Did you know what you wanted to do then, did you have a plan or a bucket list so to speak, what happened?
Jackie: So psychology was where I was going. So I went back to university. I got another degree in psychology and sociology and then followed that up with a master's. My master's was in forensic psychology. What drove that was that I had started voluntary work at a local prison for children, which then developed into other things.
So I took early retirement from my business career, but I actually didn't retire or in my mind I didn't retire at all. So I suppose my desire to help young people dates right back to where I was young myself. And didn't see the sort of equality that I wanted to see. Bringing up a family is not easy, and therefore there are going to be high points and low points in that process.
And I had them just like every other mother had them. And some of the things that I saw and some of the friends of my children that I saw, made me want to try and make things better for children generally.
Angellica: So you're just going to keep learning, aren't you? You seem to have this necessity to not stop, but it's not even about not stopping, it's continued to educate yourself and that's quite empowering, isn't it?
Jackie: Very empowering. The terminology around educating yourself sounds a bit pompous, but it's not about that. It's about keep learning and it doesn't matter what you learn. It can be from gardening to cooking, to understanding a particular genre, whatever it is. I'm good at taking photographs, anything, it's that mindset again, of saying there is so much out there to keep me interested. And if you stimulate your interest in life, then your life is going to be better.
Angellica: And also having a positive mental attitude and whatever comes your way, any trauma or experience that comes into your life, it's the way you look at things. And that's something that you are quite passionate about, isn't it?
Jackie: You cannot go through your life on an even keel in my view, however big or small they are, they seek to disrupt and having a positive attitude towards dealing with those issues helps you to get through them. The important thing to get out of those issues is to actually enjoy what you're doing because that lifts your spirit.
Angellica: Is there any examples you can give us?
Jackie: Well, I've had a couple of medical traumas. I've had breast cancer. That was when I went back to university. I had breast cancer, chemo and radiotherapy. Being at university just helped me to go through it.
Angellica: So you didn't stop, you just kept going?
Jackie: Yeah, I didn't stop. I kept going. I wore a wig. I wished I'd been more adventurous in the color of my wig, but exactly the same as my hair.
Angellica: Would you go with a pink, pink or a blue?
Jackie: I know, I wish I had.
Angellica: So, tell me about life right now. What are you up to? You must be up to something, Jackie.
Jackie: Oh, I am. I am indeed. Having gone back to university, got a new degree, worked with children in prison. Then I took a teaching degree because I saw the lack of education in prison, and I wanted to teach children who were very disadvantaged and otherwise might end up in prison. So I actually got a teaching degree, teaching children that had been excluded from all other forms of education. So it didn't have much chance. And that was enormous fun, the parts, a lot of energy, actually.
Then I got approached by my old university and asked if I would like to teach them forensic psychology, because they treated forensic psychology as a niche subject. I was approached by somebody else who said, why didn't I go into local government, into politics? So I said, Oh, well, I'll give that a try.
And that's the joy. That's the joy of being this age. The joy of being this age is that you can pick things up and you can enjoy them. And if you don't enjoy them, you can drop them and try something else.
So I tried that and then I decided that I'd rather like the idea of local politics. So I became a Parish Counsellor initially, then a District Counsellor, and then a County Counsellor at West Sussex County council. And I'm still all three of those plus I still teach at Reading University. But going forward, I've started to write a book, to write a trilogy, actually.
Angellica: Where do you have the time Jackie?
Jackie: Oh, there's a time in the day to find it. (inaudible)
Angellica: Well, Jackie, there's a pattern here because you say that we should plan, think ahead for retirement, and you've got this trilogy mapped out and planned already, which is fantastic. So is that one of your key pieces of advice for someone thinking about retirement? Are there any other nuggets that you can share with us?
Jackie: I think the key things to take account of are to think very carefully about what you enjoy doing and how you might do that. Once you've worked that out, you've got to follow that dream if you like in terms of making that happen. And once you've got a plan in place, so we come back to the plan, you then realistically work towards it.
But what you need to understand is that plan can change, just because you think he wants to do something. It might not work out like that. It might work out that it wasn't quite so exciting or it wasn't quite what you wanted. So be prepared to change and don't see it as a failure if you don't like or achieve what you want, see it as an opportunity to try something else.
Angellica: What's your next plan?
Jackie: I want to do more work with vulnerable children and vulnerable families through the County Council because that's where I think my focus is probably best (inaudible) .
Angellica: So I guess that goes back to the Ethos, that there's always a plan.
Jackie actually got to a point in her business career where she was looking for the next step and proposed her own retirement package to her boss, kudos to her for negotiating what she wanted and moving on to her dream of studying psychology. Jackie and Mick both said how important your state of mind and attitude is when you're thinking about a new path, dive in, make things happen, and don't wait for the opportunities to come to you.
But what do you do if you're not sure which passion is calling you, maybe you're worried about money or you even lack confidence in later life, you might be selling yourself short.
For some smart tips that could work for you, I'm joined by Legal and General's managing director of retirement solutions, Emma Byron and Stuart Lewis, the founder and CEO of Rest Less, a community founded to inspire the over 50s. Thank you both for joining me. I want to go to you first Stuart, tell me about Rest Less and what your motive was for setting it up.
Stuart: Say the trigger point for me actually was when my father passed away. Firstly, I realized for myself that I wasn't getting any younger and I'd always wanted to have more of a social impact. So it's kind of my now or never moment for myself.
I think perhaps more personally for Rest Less, reflecting on dad's life and many happy memories actually, realizing that he'd been retired for 36 years, longer than the 35 years he'd been in the workplace. And that got me thinking that he won't be the only one with rising life expectancy. More and more people will be looking to make the most of this significant transition period in life. And yet there were so few resources out there.
So when we looked around, we saw there was a real opportunity to build something like Rest Less, to help people navigate through this exciting but daunting time.
Angellica: And sometimes it is a personal experience that makes you think about it because often we just think of retirement is something we'll do way back in the future, but it's something we need to be thinking about now really, isn't it?
Stuart: The whole three- stage model of life where you educate, you work, and then you retire has been upended. And the bit that's new is this concept of retirement doesn't really work anymore. Like the concept that you might work five days a week for four decades, and then go retire Cold Turkey, just doesn't exist.
It's all about a time of transition, whether it's a single transition, multiple transitions, it's around helping people achieve what the goals and ambitions that they have for this stage in life. And it's a new pioneering time that perhaps their parents' generation didn't have the good fortune to experience in the same way.
Angellica: No, exactly. Do you think lots more people are changing careers later in life these days, and what sort of examples do you see?
Stuart: Absolutely. Coming back to this point of transition, we see people are considering what they want to get out of this kind of next 20 year period in life. But the roots are so diverse for each individual.
One of the things I always point out is how diverse a group today's 50 and 60 year olds are almost more diverse than any other age group because of three decades of different life experience. And it brings you out in a very different place actually.
So, we see that when it comes to careers as well. So, we have experienced business professionals looking to get into teaching. We have people who've taught for 25 years who are desperate to get out of teaching and everything in between.
I think what's fascinating is peak earnings, according to ONS data for all of us on average, are in our 40s. For some people it's in their 70s, for some people it's in their 30s.
But on average is in our 40s, which shows that actually by the time people are considering career paths in their 50s and again, in their 60s, they are typically looking for more rewarding, fulfilling career paths, perhaps that they may have felt they didn't have the luxury of being able to pursue earlier in their careers.
Angellica: So, it's not just about the money.
Stuart: No, absolutely. One of our most read pieces of content on site is actually rewarding career ideas, which people seem to be really engaging more so now during the pandemic than ever before actually.
You do also see this kind of glide into retirement. I talked before around the idea of Cold Turkey and how that's actually really bad for people, and few people want to do that today.
But you see the ratio, perhaps 75% of workers in their 50s are working full-time; about 50% in their 60s and only 25% of those in their 70s who are working, are working full-time. You see this kind of nice soft glide into retirement now, which is quite nice way of thinking about it.
Angellica: Emma, I want to bring you in right now because it is inspiring talking about pursuing passions and dreams, but what are the more real concerns people have if they're facing a career change in their 50s or 60s?
Emma: It can be very, very daunting. Unfortunately, if you're making a career change, it's most likely that your income is going to go down. And as you just said, we see that people at peak in terms of their income in their 40s, and then they're going to potentially see a fall in their income if they look to change career. And it also might have been imposed on someone.
So, with redundancy and we heard from Mick's story earlier, that was tended to a fantastic positive from that redundancy. But of course, that can be hugely terrifying for someone, if they've been in a career, they're being made redundant and they don't know what they're going to do next. So, I think for people it's just really important to not panic if they're in that situation to take stock of it and think about how they're going to fund any fall in their income.
That might be having a redundancy pay-out, that's going to help you to do that and using that money wisely as we submit it to retrain it in something else. The other important point is to remember that it might mean that you stop contributing to a pension and whatever possible you want to keep on saving.
Clearly that might not always be practical to do so, but stopping those contributions, you're not going to be getting the tax benefit of doing that or adding the extra income on that as your investments grow.
So wherever possible, make sure you're also thinking not just about funding the new and exciting opportunities, but also later into life that you've got enough there for your retirement. So that might mean you need to open a personal pension if you don't have an employer one anymore.
Angellica: So I guess pension is the key word in what you're just saying there. And it's about thinking about the earliest. So if you're in your 40s, say, how can you better prepare for that earlier in life?
Emma: There's probably four things I'd say, so firstly, take stock, then save, save, save, save, save in case is really important, educate yourself as well. And then always continue to revisit your finances.
So taking each of those in turn, often I think people sort of bury their head in the sand, they're quite scared of money, finances. It's one of those taboo subjects that people still don't talk about a lot, but actually the more honest you are with yourself in terms of what you're saving, the more financial freedom you're going to give yourself longer term.
So taking stock, understanding what you've got, do you have an employer pension? Are they contributing? How much are you putting in? And there's lots of tools out there that will help you to see what that might look like in the future. And of course, back to the point that pensions are a tax efficient way of saving.
So you don't pay any income tax on the money that's put into your pension, which is a huge benefit as long as you take into account. But also just trying to increase that slightly. You'll get that investment grows and the kind of compounding impact that will have over life, so that's really, really important.
And then educate, I think people are scared if they don't understand stuff. So take the time to really educate yourself in that. There's lots of tools on most pension providers sites that will help to project how much you might have in the future, but also understanding things like there are annual caps on how much you can put into a pension, is about 40 grand.
Most of us won't be lucky enough to hit that. And then there's a Lifetime Allowance and a million pounds as well. So make sure you understand that. And if you don't speak to a financial advisor, they're there to help you to make sure you save.
So doing that, being really realistic with yourself, engaging with your finances on a regular basis, should hope to give you a lot more freedom when you finally reach retirement, because you've got that extra financial cushion to support you.
Angellica: Emma, those great tips. really good. The other thing I want to ask you is if you are planning ahead for a career change, what sorts of other opportunities might people look at?
Emma: We saw the examples with Jackie and Mick, both fascinating stories. Jackie, very, very prepared and educating herself while still working to ensure that she had that plan in that transition into a future career.
So I think always looking at evening courses, re- skilling is becoming increasingly important and back to what Stuart said, life isn't sort of work, work, work, then retire, but sort of different phases, a smoother transition.
And if we're going to live for a hundred years, one of the really important things is to continue to educate yourself. And I think that for me is really key. I know that if like me, you've got a full- time job, three children, (inaudible) do a course in the evening might sound impossible, but I think where there's a will, there's a way in. I think Jackie's story is quite inspiring that shows if you really want to do it, . then you can make the time.
Angellica: Going back to both Mick and Jackie, he mentioned he had the option of retraining in his redundancy package. Jackie had dived into academic learning and teaching. So Stuart, what opportunities are there for people to expand their skillsets later in life without breaking the bank, especially if you do want to do a course and aren't thinking ahead?
Stuart: Yeah. There's a really wide range of opportunities for people to think about reskilling and retraining and so on. I think the first question comes down to what people are looking to achieve from it.
So you have a growing number of people who are looking to learn just out of passion and this idea of lifelong learning and keeping your brain active and keeping your brain sharp because they're interested in stuff. And there's a wide range of free learning resources and materials out there to help people follow those kinds of passions and so on.
There's a second wave of learning, which is around plugging a specific skills gap typically for the workplace. So maybe it is you work in sales and there's world of sales as being more automated. So actually there's a load of specific learning around technological sales platforms or Microsoft Excel or some form of very specific technical skills gap.
And again, there's a number of kind of distance learning courses that you can take these days without breaking the bank. I think the final element of it is we're also seeing more people actually consider a complete change.
And if they want to go into a new profession, whether teaching was example I gave before or youth worker or to become a counsellor, it might require them to go back to university to take a degree course. And obviously they don't come free, but there are ways that people can arrange their studies, whether it's part- time while they're continuing to work, to try and minimize the financial impact on it.
But for anyone looking for the first two scenarios where you're looking to plug a specific skills gap or you're looking to pursue a passion project, there are a range of free resources. The Open University is a great source of free learning opportunities. FutureLearn is another one. And actually on the Rest Less's platform, we host all of our free courses for both those organizations, as well as a number of others. So there's a number of different free learning resources out there.
Angellica: And if anyone listening would like more information on those learning platforms or even the websites, we'll be putting all the details up in our show notes. In my job, I meet so many people of the older generation and that they've got this energy, but one thing they always say is that I want to do this and I want to do that, but I don't have the confidence.
I won't be able to do that. And I think lack of confidence is one thing that prevents people of any age of going for their passions and dreams. So what would your advice be to anyone thinking of retiring and wanting to change or have a desire to learn a new skillset?
Stuart: Yeah, absolutely. So as you say, lack of confidence or self limiting beliefs is one of the things that hold almost all of us back, right, whatever we want to do? I think one of the most helpful things, at least that I found is trying to reduce this idea of there's a big leap in front of me, because that feels daunting and the best way to reduce that is to start researching.
And then you actually find out that your first step is not a big leap. Your first step is to read a load about it and understand what I'm getting myself in for. The more research I find out about a specific career path or about a specific opportunity, the less daunting it becomes and unclear that actually, okay, so what's the next hurdle, what's the next hurdle.
And suddenly you're breaking down a number of really small bits of information, bits of research, small decisions that actually mean your big leap doesn't feel quite giants anymore. And you're building the bridge across the chasm.
Angellica: Exactly. And I suppose as you get older as well, you've got more focus. You're more likely to succeed as well, isn't it?
Stuart: There's a real rise in midlife, entrepreneurialism actually. The stats we always talk about is nearly one in two of all self- employed individuals are over the age of 50. And I think just that richness of life experience can be really helpful in helping people think laterally and think more broadly around what they want to achieve with the next 10, 15, 20 years ahead of them.
Angellica: Fantastic. Stuart and Emma, thank you so much for talking to me. You've been enlightening.
So plan ahead to make sure you have enough saved in your pension pot to retire comfortably when you're ready to, have a positive mindset. And most of all seize the day now, whatever it is you've got in mind for your career later in life. I've loved hearing how different people have found joy in their unique paths, and you can get more tips and find out more about retirement planning on the website, legalandgeneral.com forward slash retirement.
Next time we're hearing from people who've caught the travel bug later in life.
What sort of things are different when planning that bucket list trip or adventure?
We'll find out in two weeks.
Speaker 6: Do it. You just make up your mind and you just go for it and find out what you can and that's it. It's easy. It really is.
Angellica: I'm Angellica Bell, follow Rewirement on your favourite platform and I'll catch you next time.
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Perhaps you're thinking about helping them out whilst you're here to see them benefit from it. Or maybe sharing money with your loved ones seems like pie in the sky. Our rewirees share their thoughts with Shirley on the topic of sharing money and inheritance.
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CEO, Legal & General Financial Advice
Sara was appointed CEO of Legal & General Financial Advice last year. She is passionate about the role good financial advice can play, to help people make more informed decisions about how to utilise their assets as they enter and progress though retirement.
Sara joined Legal & General in 2018, having spent 13 years as a management consultant and Director with EY.
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She’s written a number of books about money and her lively, common sense style is easy for people to understand.