Is This The New Way Of Working?

In recent years, we have definitely seen a trend towards people who are supposedly ‘retiring’ not actually retiring.

Instead, many people who choose to ‘retire’ from their traditional 9-5 job (and this ‘retirement’ may or may not include drawing on some sort of pension) are choosing to do some sort of contract work, write a book, do some consulting, start a business and many other things that you might describe as flexible employment / self employment.

This ‘flexible working’ environment is one that is traditionally reported to be favoured by millennials. The reason this is on my mind is that PWC has just announced a ‘flexible talent network’, which is basically a bank of people who can register to perform contracts with the accountancy giant.

As a worker in this new flexible talent network you can work a 100 day contract, take a month off to travel, return to a 50 day contract, have 3 weeks off over Christmas and then pick up a longer term 200 day piece of work. All of this without the perceived ties of formal employment.

It seems however, that boomers, Gen X and everyone in-between is finding this idea of a more flexible working life attractive. Indeed, I would suggest that of the clients we have helped to ‘retire’ over the past few years, going into some other sort of ‘work’ is the norm.

This got me to thinking – could we soon enter a world where very few people are actually ’employed’?

Instead, we could find ourselves with a whole army of freelance workers, performing contracts and services for other companies on their own account, rather than by virtue of a contract of employment.

This is arguably great for some industries and professions. Accountants need extra support around tax return time. Some businesses have very seasonal demands on their output. In these cases, this new flexible workforce will be great. An on-tap resource available at short notice on a pay-as-you-go basis.

There are some professions however, where flexible working (and when I say flexible, I mean not being employed in this context) might not be a good thing. I think Financial Planning is a case in point.

How would you feel if the adviser you were going to trust with your life savings was just working on a 50 day contract?

How about if every time you walked into the office you had a different group of staff welcome you?

Financial Planning is all about stability. People like to know that their financial future is in safe hands both now, but also for the next few decades and I believe long-term relationships are the best way to make that happen.

While I am all for this new flexible working world that seems to be emerging, in the financial planning business at least, I think the permanent position is here to stay.

"The value of investments and the income from them may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than you originally invested"