Rise of over 50’s self-employed

Chris Broome – Chartered Financial Planner

There has been a significant increase in the number of people aged over 50 who have become self-employed.

Research from IPSE (the leading association for contractors, consultants, interims, freelancers and self-employed people) suggests that there are nearly 1m self-employed people aged over 50.

This number represents an increase of over 68% in the last ten years.

Longhurst - Over 50s self employed

The key attractions of self-employment are considered to be control over the type of work being done, presumably focusing on what they are most skilled to do and also the kind of work that they most enjoy doing.

Another aspect of the control delivered through self-employment is when the work is done; self-employment isn’t typically a 9- 5 role the self-employed person is usually able to choose the hours they work to suit them.

In the search for the utopia of work-life balance, the self-employed person can also to some extent be about determining the amount of time they work fitting it in around family, friends and other activities such as travel.

For some it’s about the location as well; a freelance writer might as easily write an article from a tropical beach somewhere, as an office in a city centre.

The keyword seems to be flexibility a much sought after commodity amongst the self–employed.

But there are downsides as well.

In 2017, the Department of Work and Pensions identified that the average income for a self-employed person was only about 50% of that of an average employee.

Of course, the opportunity to earn a lot more than the typical employee exists; self-employment is about aiming as high as your imagination allows.

Many of the over 50s who have become self-employed have done so because of the loss of a job.

Others will have done so as they can see the commercialisation of an existing hobby or interest.

Others will become self-employed to continue their theme of occupational purpose, meaning WHAT they earn is less important than WHY they earn.

The ability to market yourself and acquire new clients is an important skill set that needs to be developed or outsourced to maximise success.

Employment often brings a raft of additional employee benefits such as pensions, life assurance and income replacement in the case of illness or disability.

The self-employed person is though on their own, and they need to make these arrangements for themselves.

So, perhaps self-employment is a trade-off between control and flexibility and the security of a known pay packet each month.

Longhurst Thoughts

We believe that the phrase, Retirement Age, should be replaced with a much more appropriate, Experience Age, one where you balance vacation with vocation.

Becoming self-employed, perhaps as a consultant, could provide you with the perfect balance.

We encourage all of our clients to consider what life will look like beyond a certain age – have you considered it yet?

For more information on this article, or any other, please get in contact.