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What next for the ‘Empty Nesters’?

‘Empty Nester’ – it’s hardly the greatest sounding label to have slapped on you. Despite the note of despondency in the name, dare I suggest that there’s more than the odd parent out there who dreams a happy dream about the prospect of being able to do whatever they want again, at some future point.

Parents whose children have ‘flown the nest’, at a point when they have self awareness and financial means to live life to the full, arguably face some of the most exciting opportunities, and exacting challenges, of any age group.

Empty Nesters approaching retirement are now faced with more freedom than ever to make decisions about their retirement income, and the need for high quality planning and advice is clear.

In our recent discussion panel, Helen Morrissey, Editor of Retirement Planner, was joined by industry experts Sue Houghton, Duncan Buck and Billy Burrows. You can follow a webcast of their discussion by clicking here.

Here’s my summary of the choices, good and bad, facing this age group.


Most Empty Nesters begin with positive prospects – gone are the days of working, saving and then retiring quietly. For those whose children have “flown the nest”, there’s a notable increase in free time, more disposable income and fewer commitments.

For leisure & hobbies: There’s a flowering opportunity to devote time to friends, hobbies and development of past-times that used to be impacted by family pressures and commitments.

For a fresh career: The robust health and greater physical and mental vigour of the elderly these days brings opportunities to develop fresh career paths to help fund retirement.


For many Empty Nesters, this is a time that changes and strengthens their partnership. Some, though, experience quite the reverse. And the strains can be expensive.

Time to separate: Free from the ties imposed by their children, some couples separate and start new lives on their own. Rising divorce rates have clear (and often negative) financial impacts for both.

Risks of illness: Advancing years demand increased provision for poor health and mobility. Retired people spend, on average, 3-5 years in nursing homes where fees now average £700 a week. It can be the most expensive time of retirement.


Retirement might just be the first time many people really focus seriously on the value of their pension policies. There’s certainly more need than ever for Empty Nesters to have a confident grasp of their income security as they head for retirement.

Self-management: The Chancellor’s recent Budget now gives people unprecedented flexibility in the self-management of their pension pot. This enhances the need for access to sound, independent financial advice.

Market response: Pension providers and advisers are developing easy-to-understand advice models that won’t rely soley on more expensive face-to-face contact. The provision of arms-length generic advice will be accelerated by the legislative changes.

Enhanced trust: The standing of financial services industry has been strengthened by increased regulation: adviser qualifications have become mandated, commission and adviser charging have been clarified, and the quality of the industry has improved.


We’ve all been guilty of focusing on our own business interests and talking in our own industry-speak over the years. That’s not about blaming anyone in particular, just something we need to admit and move on. I read Chris Daems’ and Phil Young’s recent articles a while back with interest as I agree that a lot of the ‘innovation’ required going forward is around communication, not simply new products. Understanding people’s attitudes to money and retirement plans, while appreciating that too few understand pensions and the contemporary savings environment, is key to providing the informed advice needed to support their plans and ambitions.

With that in mind, we’ve created a hub where we’ll share information, stats and other essential information to help us all understand the unique perspective enjoyed by Empty Nesters. I hope you’ll find it useful.

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