IoD: Turn pension pots into businesses to fuel older entrepreneurship

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Either from the desire to stay involved in fulfilling work or from financial necessity, 1 in 6 (16%) business leaders never plan to retire, a new survey from the Institute of Directors reveals today. For some of these individuals, the answer may be to set up their business. With the majority of respondents over the age of 50, the survey showed a remarkable number of IoD members – over half (53%) – identified themselves as entrepreneurs, countering the popular perception of start-up founders as twenty-something tech whizz-kids.

The survey was published in a new report, the Age of the Older Entrepreneur, in which the IoD explores some of the trends and pressures acting on the labour market, particularly for older people, and makes a number of proposals aimed at helping people who are considering founding businesses later in life. The report includes case studies that show entrepreneurs approaching or after retirement age setting up a wide range of companies, including Susi Lennox (aged 72), who started a business that make a natural lubricant range called YES, and Steve Perry (aged 59), who launched an online platform the that helps over 50s find work.

In order to fuel older entrepreneurship, the business group has called on the Government to consult on the introduction of limited, tax-free withdrawals from personal pension pots if money is earmarked for start-up investment, in addition to the current 25% tax free allowance. The IoD also called for the tax system to be flexed in order to encourage individuals to access different types of training through their working lives, proposing the introduction of a ‘shadow personal allowance’ to be offset against an individual’s income tax liability.

Lady Barbara Judge, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, said:

“It is a cause for celebration that an increasing number of experienced workers are going it alone as entrepreneurs. I have long been an advocate of working later in life, but it is crucial that those who choose these routes have the right tools, and feel adequately supported in the process. They are people with wisdom, experience and good judgement, who can have many years of productive work ahead of them. Choosing to take financial and business risks later in life can be difficult and I applaud any person who decides to take this route.

“The changing nature of work will fundamentally affect us all. This, combined with an ageing population, will pose serious challenges to society. People in their sixties now are on the front line of the shifting boundaries between work and retirement. The Government should consider introducing tax incentives to encourage people to pursue their ideas and invest in training, so that they can continue to have fulfilling working lives beyond the age expected by previous generations.”

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