Earning more and working less: The rise of the ‘Silver self-employed’

According to a new study

The ‘Silver Self-employed’ earn more and work fewer hours than their younger counterparts, according to findings from the ‘Definitive Study of the Self-employed’, commissioned by Intuit QuickBooks, the world’s leading online accounting software.

  • Comprehensive Intuit QuickBooks study reveals the over 65s are capitalising on the self-employment boom
  • Britain’s over 65s earn £7,000 more a year and work almost one day less a week than the average self-employed
  • Silver Self-employed generation better at financial management; helping them to stay in business

The research of over 5,000 self-employed workers in the UK showed that the mean yearly revenue of over 65s in the last year was almost £40,000, whilst they work an average of 21 hours a week. This is £7,000 more than the average self-employed salary (£33,000) and 7 hours less – almost a full working day.

The UK is seeing a significant upturn in workers leaving salaried jobs and becoming self-employed, reporting 4.85m self-employed workers throughout the UK (15.1 per cent of all people in work). This research shows that it’s the over 65s who are profiting most from the trend. Not only are they out-earning their younger self-employed counterparts, but 71 per cent said they are about the same or better off financially than when in full time employment.

The research suggests that the financial benefits are far from the sole advantage to being self-employed, with 67 per cent saying their life satisfaction is better as a self-employed worker.

Over two-thirds (68 per cent) said a benefit was more flexibility to work on their own terms, whilst 23 per cent said the sense of achievement of being their own boss gives them the most satisfaction from their self-employed career. In fact, 47 per cent turned to self-employment because of their belief that they could build a business around their skillset.

However, challenges remain - 41 per cent said they worry about not having enough predictable income and just over a third (35 per cent) said managing business details such as accounting, expenses, taxes, audits and compliance can be an issue.

Dominic Allon, Vice President and Managing Director, Intuit Europe said: “Self-employment is often associated with the likes of millennials, creatives in design agencies, teenagers writing code in their bedrooms, or Deliveroo drivers buzzing around our cities on their bikes.

“But the ‘Definitive Study of the Self-employed’ aims to challenge our assumptions and help us truly understand this workforce.”

“With bigger savings pools and a lifetime of acquiring skills and expertise combined with economic factors such as the state pension age increase, ‘Silver Self-employed’ workers are fast becoming an economic force in the UK.”

When it comes to managing income generated by self-employment, the research shows that the over 65s also appear to be more astute at financial management than their younger counterparts. Only 11 per cent report financial issues, such as cash flow, waiting to be paid, and expenses management compared to 27 per cent of 25 to 29-year olds and 25 per cent of 30 to 39-year olds.

Allon added: “Self-employment is not an easy ride – it’s a major leap to leave the security of a full-time job behind and step into the unknown. But there are arguably more opportunities than ever to benefit from the financial and lifestyle rewards available.

“Financial management is the cornerstone of any successful self-employed worker. Without a clear understanding of what’s going out and coming in, individuals are not set up to succeed.” 

Intuit QuickBooks has researched a significant number of the self-employed across the UK to understand the individuals behind this trend in working, what’s driving them, their working habits and what the future holds for this workforce. This is the fourth in the series of findings.

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