26 April 2017

More people than ever are reaching traditional retirement age, with the number of over-60s in the world expected to double by 2050. It is great news that so many people have more years to enjoy. Retirement can be an opportunity to spend time with family, travel, or simply relax.

But after an uncertain decade for the world economy, many feel less confident about their plans for the future. It is 10 years since the global financial crisis began, affecting economies and job markets all around the world.

Only 34 per cent of working age people think that they will be financially comfortable once they retire, according to The Future of Retirement Shifting sands , a new report commissioned by HSBC. Based on a survey of more than 18,000 people around the world, the report examines shifting attitudes towards life after work.

Gradual retirement – stepping back from work little by little, in some cases never letting go entirely – is becoming widespread, perhaps in part because of financial pressures. Some 58 per cent say that they expect to continue doing paid work to some extent even after they retire.

Digital technology has the potential to transform the way we retire

While the global financial crisis has affected many groups, it seems to have had the biggest impact on younger people, according to our survey. Compare the baby boomer generation, born between 1945 and 1965, with the millennial generation, born between 1980 and 1997. A total of 42 per cent of the people surveyed say that baby boomers are in the best position to enjoy a comfortable retirement. Only 10 per cent think that millennials are in the best position. The majority even go so far as to say that millennials are paying for the economic consequences of older generations.

Many think there may be a silver lining for younger generations, however. Digital technology has transformed the way we work and socialise – and has the potential to transform the way we retire. A total of 55 per cent of working age people surveyed think new technology will help improve the standard of living for retirees in the future.

The internet already lets families keep in touch when away from home. Telecommuting using virtual reality could make it easier for older workers to dip in and out of paid employment. And new internet-enabled technologies, such as watches with inbuilt heart-rate monitors and blood sugar sensors, could help older people manage conditions such as diabetes and stay healthier for longer.

Whatever the future may bring, there are positive steps that anyone working today can take to face uncertainty with greater confidence. People who begin saving early, even small amounts, start to build up assets that give them more security and options for the future.

It is encouraging that most millennials are prepared to cut back on spending to set money aside, according to our report. They are also more likely to seek information to guide their financial decisions and move their money around to make it go further. In an uncertain world, it’s never too early to start planning ahead.


The Future of Retirement is an independent research study into global retirement trends, commissioned by HSBC. It provides insight into issues associated with ageing populations and increasing life expectancy around the world.

Shifting sands is the fourteenth report in the series and represents the views of 18,414 people from 16 countries and territories: Argentina, Australia, Canada, mainland China, Egypt, France, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The findings are based on a representative sample of people of working age (21+) and in retirement, in each country or territory. The research was conducted online by Ipsos MORI between November 2016 and January 2017, with additional face-to-face interviews in Egypt and the UAE.