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Balancing act: For many, retirement won't bring an end to work

Among the most common questions to hit my inbox are those about retirement, Social Security and what to do as you near the end of your working career.

A common refrain among the financial pros I consult about these questions is that people ought to consider working beyond the traditional retirement age. And a recent survey shows that many of you are planning to follow that advice.

The survey by Robert Half Management Resources found that only 34 percent of respondents say they plan to quit work entirely when they are "ready to retire."

On the other hand, 24 percent say they plan to change fields or work at something new, 14 percent say they will work as consultants, 14 percent will work fewer hours for the same company, 2 percent will take a part-time job and 2 percent don't plan to retire at all.

An independent research firm conducted the survey, which includes responses from 492 full- or part-time adult workers employed in offices.

Based on these results, it appears that most of you are going to be plenty busy during retirement. And the folks at Robert Half, a provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals with more than 140 offices worldwide, see benefits in that.

Craig Kapper, regional vice president for Robert Half overseeing offices in Utah, Nevada and part of California, says he is not surprised by the results of the survey. The accounting, finance and technology professionals represented by Robert Half are in high demand, he says, and that means companies will try to hire them even if they have reached retirement age.

Considering baby boomers are starting to retire, and 34 percent of those in the survey say they plan to quit working entirely, an employee shortage is likely to occur, Kapper says.

"In the accounting and finance arena, there are not enough people enrolled in school to fulfill the demand for accounting and finance professionals for the next 10 to 12 years," Kapper says. "From an (information technology) perspective, there's a tremendous shortage of qualified, talented professionals to actually do that work. ... Every trend indicates there will be a shortage of specialized staff available."

Which is good for Robert Half, and maybe for older workers.

Kapper says many companies are offering more flexible work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting and wellness programs targeted at older workers to keep them on the job.

Besides, he says, many older workers don't want to quit, even if they don't need the income.

"Many people ... quite frankly want to keep busy," Kapper says. "We've seen a lot of people — my parents and a lot of their friends are in a similar situation — where they're approaching that retirement age, and they don't want to be out of the game completely.

"There's only so much (rest and relaxation) you can do, so I think this is definitely a trend that will continue."

Maybe. But I have mixed feelings about this survey.

I'm a LOOOONG way from retirement. In fact, it's so far in the future for me that I try not to think about it unless I'm seeking answers for questions submitted for this column.

However, I hope that somehow, someday, I will be able to retire. And when I do so, I would like to do something other than get another job. Like spend time with my wife. Or travel. Or spoil grandkids.

Heck, I'd love to be able to just sit down and read a book.

But maybe I'll feel differently when I reach retirement age. Perhaps I will not be financially secure enough to quit working. Or maybe I will miss the challenges of life in the workplace and will want to keep that mental stimulation.

Which brings me to a question for you, the readers, especially if you are nearing or already have hit retirement age. What are your plans? Are you going to keep working? Are you going to find a different, part-time job? And why have you made that decision?

Please drop me a line to let me know, and I'll share some of your responses in a future column.

Or, if you have a different financial question, I want to hear that, too. Send it to or to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.