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Early retirement emerges as top financial goal for employees

A global study sheds light on the prevalence of early retirement as a life goal, with Gen Z leading the charge.

Early retirement is a specific life goal for 65% of working-age adults around the world, with 70% of Gen Z employees (the highest proportion of any generation) actively working towards this aspirational goal. This compares to just 51% of the over 55s.  

The findings appear in a new study* into the financial wellbeing of 11,577 working-age adults from 17 countries around the world.  

The results highlight a significant geographical disparity between employees’ approach to early retirement, with 72% of working Americans citing early retirement as a specific life goal, compared to just 40% of French employees. Only 26% of respondents from Japan specify they have this life goal.  

Planning for early retirement 

Despite the desire for early retirement in some regions and age demographics, when asked in which ways money is important, only 30% of all respondents cited saving for retirement as being important. And this figure drops to just 18% for 16–24-year-olds. This shows that perhaps there is a disconnect between the idealistic notion of early retirement, versus the reality of prioritising saving for it.  

Across the globe, 69% of respondents say they have a general financial plan in place to achieve their goals, yet 42% admit this is only an ‘informal’ plan that spans three years or less. However, 70% of Gen Z respondents say they have a general financial plan in place, compared to just 60% of 45–54-year-olds.  

Tim Perkins, Co-founder and CEO at nudge, commented on the findings: “As always, the expansiveness of our global study allows us to make some fascinating comparisons and this year is no different. The way in which people view retirement, and particularly early retirement, is wildly different around the globe. From the US, where culturally a measure of financial security and freedom is early retirement, through to Japan – where only 26% of respondents say they have early retirement as a life goal, we’re seeing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning and wellbeing.” 

He continues: “I am surprised by some of the findings this year, particularly around the approach that Gen Z is taking about their future. With 70% of this generation citing early retirement as a life goal they are actively working towards, and 70% of them having a financial plan in place to achieve their goals, this bodes well for the financial health of the population in future. It is also perhaps an indicator that priorities around long-term work/life balance are shifting, and shows a new level of cognisance which is a positive trend for peoples’ financial future.” 

nudge’s People Director Andrew Mulder added: “Encouraging and enabling retirement planning supports a healthy talent planning conversation where employers understand people’s career and life goals and can help meet them. 

*nudge Global

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