Is ‘Retirement’ Now A Dirty Word?

Jul 6, 2010

retirement-wordOver the past several years as I’ve grown closer to retirement age, I have rebelled against the words “retiree” and “retirement.” I thought it was just me. But it’s not.

My recent research (in conjunction with The National Alliance for Insurance Education and Research) on the topic of retirement showed quantitatively that many people are just like me: many of the insurance industry’s future retirees do not think of themselves as retiring in the traditional sense.

They plan on working at least part-time, until death or disability or well into their 70s and 80s. They want flexibility and freedom but they still want to contribute by putting their skills and experience to use in the insurance industry.

For a number of years I thought about starting a company to serve as a bridge between insurance agencies needing skilled, experienced, productive employees and retired insurance professionals wanting to work part time. I named the company WAHVE (Work-At-Home Vintage Experts), because of the homophone sound of “wave” but also because I personally did not like the sound of the word “retirement” or “retiree.”

On the Web site, though, I used the term “retired expert” — that is, until I conducted this most recent research and looked at the results. So I edited my Web site (using that handy “search and replace” feature), and made a global change: I changed  “retired expert” to “vintage expert.”

To me, “vintage” has several positive connotations. One of its definitions is “representing the high quality of a past time: vintage cars; vintage movies.” While it calls to mind the good years gone by, it also implies that someone or something is ripe to be enjoyed for its high quality, like fine wine.

In just the three months since WAHVE launched as a company, we’ve gained 75 highly qualified WAHVEs — vintage experts, ripe for the picking — looking for work from agency owners around the United States. After we completed our pilot, we began to place vintage experts with agencies. They can work from their home offices, are highly productive, and cost less.

People are talking to their friends about WAHVE. One new potential wahve told me: “This is a great idea and I have already passed it along to two of my (soon to retire) friends in NJ. I retired two years ago and after six months of boredom got a very flexible job, helping with management system implementation in a very small office. When the commercial lines person quit, I inherited the desk which is a bit hectic since I work [only] 2.5 days a week. When I worked from home, part of the time I found that I got a lot more done than I did in the office.”

Others are telling me they are looking forward to “retirement” (pardon the expression) but are excited about the prospect of having some involvement with insurance working from home. So I’m not the only one who is looking at age 65 differently than my parents did. –  Sharon Emek


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