Get us baby-boomers back to work!

Alison and Matthew

Alison Davis and Matthew Le Merle – very Joshua Reynolds


The photo is of two college friends who had a full page splash in this weekend’s Sunday Times. Alison, was born a few days before me and we were at College together, Matthew met her at Mckinsey in the early eighties, he too is my age. The article claims they have left the corporate rat-race but this is “utter bollocks” to quote JR.

Alison heads the RemCo at RBS while Matthew is one of the busiest business angels in the States. Both have portfolio careers as well as five happy children. They are of the world but have reinvented the way they live their lives to fit being wealthy, child independent and wise.


Alison Davis


They are an extreme example of the self-determinism that most of us aspire to. They do it- and it was good meeting them last week in Mayfair as they signed their first book on how to make a fortune.

My aspirations are lower, but like them, I am trying to reinvent myself as relevant to my world here in Britain. Fortunately, a couple of years ago, my employer – First Actuarial – realised that giving me their KPIs was going to be less successful than allowing me to work to my own. I very much doubt that their are more than an handful of employers in Britain who could show me the trust First Actuarial have done …in me.

For Alison and Matthew, the new start was possible because of their awesome reputations and the considerable wealth they had amassed in the jobs they had done in the first thirty years of their lives. But most people do not get to that level of lifestyle independence or even have the good fortune I have to be independent of an imposed work regime. Most people I know over 55 are demotivated and dysfunctional- at least at work.

We don’t lack energy – we may be in the wrong place!

If you want one great read, get hold of the digital FT and read this article by Lucy Kellaway. “To say older staff lack energy is ageist and wrong”. (the link is at the bottom of the article).

Us baby-boomers are booming with energy. “perky, well-rested and free from domestic ties” is how Lucy has us. She points out that the youngsters in the workplace are too busy getting wrecked to be good for work while the “thirty and forty somethings” are regularly hors d’action due to kids. She concludes that

 After a day at work in which I have been frantically active doing exciting and interesting things, I get on my bike and cycle home at a brisk clip. After a day in which I have wasted time, been bored or languished in meetings, I am so tired I can barely contemplate a short bike ride.

This may explain why some older people slouch around all day at work looking sluggish. It is not because they are over 50. It is because they do not find work especially exciting any more. They have simply been doing the same thing for too long

We all know about the demotivated and demotivating elder worker, eeking the days out till the pension kicks in. They are destructive to the workplace as any malware.

But  I feel in the right place right now, so do my friends Ali and Matthew and so could you, if you were our age and had the opportunity to live your own life, work your own work. People who I hang around with are getting this, they want to be back at work but want to be doing what they feel good at, not what the text-book job description tells them to do.

KPIs for the fifty year old should be set by the 50 year old and if the employer doesn’t want there skills and their work-plan, then an amicable parting of ways should be agreed.

Let’s hope that Britain keeps its next generation of Matthew and Alisons and that it makes more people like me productive- not destructive – to the workplace.

mark lee

Me and Mark Lee – another boomer adding value his way




Link to Lucy Kellaway article;

Link to Alison and Matthew’s new book;

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Get us baby-boomers back to work!

  1. Phil Castle says:

    Agreed. As a 52 year old, I work for my clients and if they don’t like my way, they send me on the highway. My son now works with me (I say “with” rather than “for” as whilst he is currently only a 17% shareholder, we’re a team). I might be piut on the subs bench by him when I am in my late 60’s or 70’s, but so long as I still enjoy this job and my clients and staff can put up with my oddities, why stop before you drop?

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