Understanding Retiree Mindsets

Understanding Retiree Mindsets

Guest blog by Susan Bell, Founder and Lead Researcher at Retiree Insights Australia.

If you are a superannuation fund currently developing your retirement income strategy, ‘mindsets’ might be the breakthrough you need in your thinking. 
This is  especially the case if demographics are not giving you the insight you need. 
Susan Bell conducts research and member testing for financial services organisations and government, and this blog explores the myths and outdated assumptions about people approaching, moving through or living in retirement.

Introducing ‘Mindsets’ To Kickstart Your Thinking

One of the simplest ways to cut through some of the complexity, is to start with the idea of a retiree ‘mindset’[1].

A ‘mindset’ is a set of beliefs that a person has about themselves. It affects how they approach problems and influences the information they pay attention to.

  • Some people have a ‘growth’ mindset where they believe that they can change and grow as people.
  • Others have a fixed mindset of ‘this is who I am and I can’t change’.

The Two Retiree ‘Mindsets’

Our research has revealed that some upcoming retirees have a growth mindset. They envisage retirement as an opportunity to evolve and grow. This can be broken down into several versions, one of which is a ‘new life builder’ mindset. While still working at their day job, these upcoming retirees are dreaming of a new life as a consultant, student or volunteer. They tend to pay attention to messages about how feasible this new life will be.

As one research respondent told us,

“In retirement I am looking forward to doing all the hobbies and interests that there is no time for when working.”

Other retirees have a fixed mindset. Again, there are different versions of this, but perhaps the most familiar version is working people in their 60s or 70s who think they will work forever because work is what they do. We all know people who identify with their work don’t we? It is who they are.

A man in his 70s told us,

“I enjoy my job too much to think about retirement, I will work for as long as physically possible.”

When someone has a fixed mindset about how much they love their work, they are not paying attention to messages about retirement.

Are ‘Mindsets’ Fixed?

Mindsets are not fixed. They can change in response to circumstance and can also change in response to interventions such as gentle nudges in the right direction.

A big advantage of thinking about pre-retirement as a time of shifting mindsets is that we are not pigeon-holing people, or make assumptions about them based on their age or their balance.

The Retiree Mindset Advantage

Superannuation funds that are developing retirement income strategies can benefit greatly from understanding the mindsets of retirees. By recognising that retirees have diverse needs, desires, and expectations, funds can tailor their strategies to better meet the needs and preferences of their members. Retirees may have different goals and aspirations for their retirement, ranging from maintaining a comfortable lifestyle to pursuing new hobbies and experiences. Understanding these mindsets can help superannuation funds develop more effective retirement income strategies that meet the unique needs of their members, leading to greater member satisfaction and loyalty over time. This can also help retirees achieve their retirement goals and enjoy a fulfilling and meaningful retirement.

For more information, the eBook ‘How to Talk About Retirement explains more about retiree mindsets such as the ‘new life builders’.

Visit https://retireeinsightsaustralia.com.au/ 

[1] I have based my thinking about the ‘mindset’ concept on the work of Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The new psychology of success, published by. Random House.


Optimum Pensions was launched in 2017 with a single mission – to help Australians lead a comfortable retirement. The Optimum Pensions innovative retirement income solutions are specifically developed to address longevity risk and provide greater peace of mind for all retirees; no matter how long they live.

The Optimum Pensions, award-winning LifeSpan Calculator builds confidence around personal life expectancy and retirees’ possible retirement planning horizon.

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