Not Ready to Retire, Vintage Workers Create “Pretirement”

Apr 29, 2014

WAHVE launched in 2010 as the first-ever company providing remote “vintage” staff exclusively serving the insurance industry. We thought we had a simple but transformative idea:

WAHVE’s big idea was to find and place “vintage experts” — whom we defined loosely as anyone with 25 years of work and insurance experience — to work remotely. We didn’t specify an age (it’s illegal, of course) — but a reasonable guess we figured at the time was that most of who applied would be near the retirement age of 65 or perhaps 63 for early Social Security. We thought they would be doing some volunteer work but wishing there were a way for them to work part-time in insurance from home.

We were a little wrong and a lot right.

It turns out that, after four years and hundreds of hiring assignments, that the average age of a WAHVE insurance professional is 58. And 65 percent of our wahves work full time. But all want to work from home extending their insurance career!

Both those facts are (pleasant) surprises to me.

These past four years of experience in hiring vintage workers and setting them up with insurance firms around the country has demonstrated a couple things:

1) People’s view of retirement has changed significantly. They don’t look at retirement as crossing a proverbial bridge into a new world of daytime TV, four o’clock dinner specials, and RVing around the country. Rather, workers look at the road to retirement as a series of changes — some of them gradual, some sudden; some planned, some unexpected. They look at retirement as leaving the regular workforce for more flexible ways of staying engaged and continue their career. So if they are not really retiring, what are they doing? We at WAHVE say they are “pretiring.” Just think of the impact on people approaching 60 if they thought they were “pretiring” instead of retiring. The statistics are clear: Many will live to be well over 80 today, so might we think that retiring maybe is for 70 somethings?

2) The words we use no longer fit the reality. The huge boomer population has been and is reinventing working, aging and retiring. It’s not so much that retirement is a myth as many say; rather, it’s that retirement now really is for those over 70, maybe even 80, or as some say to us, never. The demographics of aging are clear: Boomers are living longer than any generation in history. Why don’t we have the language to describe these new trends? So we’ve decided to use new words to describe the new trend: “pretirement,” “pretirees” and “pretiring.”

People who retired 10 years ago were not as technically advanced as today’s 50- and 60-somethings. The vintage workers we know today, by contrast, are technologically savvy. They Skype and FaceTime their kids and grandkids. They are a fast-growing age cohort on Facebook. They’re skilled with mobile computing and using smartphones. They don’t just text: they play brain games on their tablets and phones to stay sharp. In short, they’re the kind of responsive, involved professional people that will power business for today’s insurance firms.

Who better than those of us in the insurance industry to act on what we know and create a new lexicon for these trends?

– Sharon Emek, Ph.D., CIC
Founder and CEO
Work At Home Vintage Expert (WAHVE)


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