News-Beach and deck chairs

I once worked alongside an Insurance Actuary who claimed he could ask a dozen questions and then predict when you were going to die, plus or minus a couple of years. He used to crack actuarial jokes like ‘Did you know – half the population of the UK is below average intelligence?’ and we called him ‘Mister Average’. He was weird but very clever – he knew the Life Tables inside out and was very, very good at selling life insurance. Predicting when a customer would cash in their chips was amusing then but a lot less so thirty years on when someone has been fixing the interest rates on your hard-earned savings. I’m not really sure I want to know how long I’m going to live in retirement whilst watching my savings run out. I’d rather be Bob Diamond, 60-year old former Chief Exec. at Barclays who resigned over the rate-fixing scandal and is estimated to be worth £600 million.

My guess is the retirement age of workers in the Markets industry is well above the national average and a lot higher than that of Bankers. But if you retire later does it mean you’ll snuff it sooner than Bob? Because you’ve spent a healthy life out in the open air and not stuck in an office maybe you’ll die older than him. That’ll show him.

Delayed retirement is not bad for your health.

Last month the BBC’s Radio Four hired a tame Actuary to do a bit of myth-busting. They asked him: Does a demanding job (Market trader?) or delayed retirement (Market trader?) mean you die sooner than someone with a cushy job (Banker?) or early retirement (Banker?) The Actuary investigated the much-quoted internet story that employees of aircraft-maker Boeing who retire at 55 live, on average, to 83. But those who retire at 65 are dead by 67. Well you’ll be reassured to learn that according to the administrators of the Boeing pension scheme that is just an urban myth. God only knows who makes up these stories but delayed retirement is not bad for your health.

But data from the UK Office of National Statistics does suggest people in certain jobs die earlier than others.

The difference between job-types is not marked. Bankers and Actuaries do live some 3 years longer on average than Scaffolders and Miners but there’s no category for Market traders. Shopkeepers die – again on average – at age 86 which is only one year less than the longest-lived (Guess who? – Bankers and Actuaries). But because life expectancy increases year-on-year you can probably add a few more years to the UK average mortality age of 87 for men and 90 for women by the time you get there. But remember that these are still averages and you haven’t got nine lives. Stepping in front of a bus will definitely make you below average.

They also busted another myth: The later you retire, the earlier you die. Quite the reverse actually. Mortality ages are slightly lower – again on average – for staff who retire at 55 than for those who work to 65. But, as they pointed out some people are forced to retire early because of ill health so although the statistics suggest people who retire earlier die slightly earlier, early retirement may not be the reason. They also confirmed that women live three years longer than men which is obviously very unfair.

So does it matter where you live? If you want to live longer should you move house? If so you should retire to Hinton St. George (Somerset), Aldeburgh (Suffolk) or Frinton-on-Sea (Essex) where you’re likely – again on average – to spin it out for another 4 years. Residents of Hinton St. George can expect to live for 88.7 (men) or 91.6 years (women). This may account for the extraordinary level of support for it’s Village Shop and Post Office.

Back in 2008 the proposed closure of Hinton St. George Post Office brought Nick Clegg – newly-elected leader of the LibDems – to the village on the campaign trail. The Community was determined to secure the future of their Shop and Post Office and political support was just what they needed to raise their profile and drive things forward. Several recently-retired and very determined residents saw the threat posed to the village and worked-up a Business Plan for a Community Shop owned by an Industrial Provident Society. They called-in some favours to sort out the paperwork, established the Society, registered it with the FSA and raised £100K of working capital through donations and pledges. Their next step was to secure a lottery grant which enabled them to convert the upper floor of the shop into a residential flat for rent. A share offer is now planned to raise further development capital to diversify and develop the business. Good for them – self-help works.

All of this is of course in line with the ‘Big Society’ agenda promoted by the government. Making local provision and delivering local services through so-called Social Enterprises such as Provident Societies is very much flavour of the month. Membership of the Society is available to all for a nominal sum and the project is proceeding nicely thanks to enormous support from the local community.

If you’re planning on retiring from the Markets industry I can guarantee you’ll be bored stiff within six months of retirement. Consider establishing a Social Enterprise for a worthy cause. It’ll be a doddle after running your Market business and you won’t be immortal, but you won’t be bored either.

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