Wednesday, August 31, 2022


We need to have at least RM240,000 in savings by the time we retire at 55, so we have been told. With prices escalating and inflation showing no sign of abating, for those living in the urban areas, this figure is grossly inadequate. Long term age care alone will swallow up a sizeable chunk of our savings. 

Here's a guide from the Employees Provident Fund to help us with some estimates:

(Above adapted from Panduan Belanjawanku.)

That's why more and more retirees are returning to work life almost immediately after retirement. With longer life expectancy and the ever rising cost of living, most retirees simply cannot afford to enjoy full retirement. Would a 60-year old retiree have accumulated enough in his EPF to support him for the next 15 to 20 years? The answer is an absolute NO.

What is the solution? Go back to work? Easier said than done. Retirees face age discrimination in the workplace. Unless they have skills that are highly sought after, and unless the government offers a helping hand to retrain and upskill older workers, many will have difficulty re-entering the job market.

But thanks to enterprising young individuals like Jasmin Amirul, looking for re-employment is now a lot easier. Today the hire.seniors website is the go-to place for seniors looking for employment. The company conducts workshops for those who register with them to upgrade their skills including teaching them to write a cv and helping them be work-ready. 

Jasmin Amirul, co-founder of hire.seniors

Not all retirees return to work to generate an income. Those who are financially comfortable wouldn't mind doing gig work or part-time work with flexible hours. They do so to keep active and remain socially connected. The extra money doesn't hurt. James Quah (pic below) is an excellent example. He has been featured in several festival videos and commercials playing the part of an elderly father, a resident at an assisted living facility and various other roles.

With the growing interest in the seniors market, there is a demand for seniors to promote products and services. TV agencies and production companies are always scouting for older models for their clients, e.g. fashion houses, healthcare companies, retirement homes, to showcase their products. The pay can be quite good.

If you don't fancy working for someone else, you can always start your own business and be your own boss. This involves taking on some risks, especially financial ones. If you are unable to secure a loan or find partners, would you have the business acumen and confidence to inject your retirement savings into the venture? How good is your appetite for risk-taking? Do the research and tick all the relevant boxes before you take the plunge. 

But having said that, data shows the highest rate of entrepreneurship worldwide is in the 55-64 age group and the over-50 age group is twice as likely to be successful. Although data is not available for Malaysia, a simple survey among my network of friends seem to support this trend. As early as 2014, The Star did a cover feature on the "Rise of the Older-preneurs". Here are some current examples.

(Source: )

Richard Koh, 56 and his wife Ong Bee Yan, 66, took the bold step when they started their 1degreeC Cold Brew Coffee. Through sheer resilience and determination, the couple overcame the initial challenges. Today, their business has taken off. Not only that, Bee Yan is now a professional model who has graced the pages of fashion magazines including Harper's Bazaar. Based on her own experience of not finding clothes that was age-appropriate and yet stylish, she decided to team up with Yacht21 to start their own line of trendy clothes called Y21 X grey_evolution collection. You can read more about it HERE.
(Photo: Y21 X grey_evolution)

Retirees have a wealth of working experience and knowledge in specialised areas. One of the most popular encore careers (second career on retirement) is to set up a consultancy in your field of expertise. If you don't want the stress of setting up your own company, you could operate a simple home-based business making use of your skills and passion. Many of my women friends enjoy cooking and making handicrafts. Some have started providing homecooked meals on order, others deliver personal home services e.g. physiotherapy, manicure & pedicure, tuition. 

(Pic above: Jacey Choo has a passion for cooking and baking. She also runs a business in renting out traditional wedding costumes at Lady JC Enterprises, and is an instructor in floral arrangement at University of the Third Age, KL & Selangor. Truly an enterprising senior!)

With the country reaching aged nation status by 2040 when 15% of the population will be aged 60 and above, it makes good sense to cater to the needs and demands of this demographic segment of the population. Indeed retirees and older people are a fast growing market that is often ignored. Those who see the opportunities and are prepared to invest time and money in the emerging older consumers market will reap the benefits, like Ken G, a certified senior fitness specialist. He has established himself as a fitness trainer for senior citizens. He also does physiotherapy for older clients at their homes.

If you are seriously considering turning entrepreneur, but unsure of what to go into, the diagram below may help. I am sure you would have heard of the Japanese 'ikigai', or purpose in life. Finding your ikigai will help boost your chances of succeeding in the business you want to get into should you plan to return to work. Leverage on your vast working experience, skills and interests.