Last man standing

Brazilian Walter Orthmann (who turned 100 earlier this year) holds a Guinness World Record for the longest career in the same company.  He has worked for his employer for more than 84 years (and is still there)!

Walter ‘started at the bottom’ and worked his way up (from shipping assistant; to sales; to management).  He believes that the best part about having a job is that it gives you a sense of purpose, commitment and routine.

Over the course of his 84-year career, he has travelled extensively and has collected pay in nine different currencies.

He has learned from necessity and experience how to adapt to all kinds of change, both within the company and out in the world.

However, what interested me most as I read his story is his focus on ‘the now’ – he says:

“I don’t do much planning, nor care much about tomorrow.  All I care about is that tomorrow will be another day in which I will wake up, get up, exercise and go to work; you need to get busy with the present, not the past or the future. Here and now is what counts. So, let’s go to work!”

This statement is utterly at odds with our ethos here at Solomon’s for financial planning which is all about thinking about where you are now; where you want to be; and of course how to get there.

So I have to assume that Mr Orthmann did not want ‘more from life’ than this; that he has a passion for his work; that he is totally comfortable with his decisions and doesn’t feel like he has ‘missed out’ on anything – I certainly hope for his sake that my assumptions are correct – otherwise his life story would feel like a very sad tale indeed.

Our role here is not to tell you what your retirement should look like – it is to help you visualise this for yourself; and to help you prepare the way for that to come to fruition.  No two retirements look the same and we do not attempt to ‘shoe horn’ anyone into planning for things that simply don’t interest them.

We are yet to hear any of our clients say that they want to plan to remain employed until they die – largely our clients want to be able to devote time and money to other things (although we do have some clients who continue to work well into their retirement – but there is balance; and they are working because they want to rather than out of necessity).

And maybe here is the problem I see in Walter’s case – as a result of his lack of planning ahead and thinking about the future, it also has to be true that he didn’t ‘plan’ to keep working – it just happened.  And I think it’s a little sad that he wasn’t interested in being a little more pro-active about his life.  His World Record is a result of apathy and inaction; of letting life happen rather than choosing what his life would be.

We often ask our clients what advice they would give to their 20-year-old selves and I wonder what Walter would say in response to this question …

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email