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'Age of the Unretired' looms as millions plan to work into old age

Get ready for the 'Age of the Unretired'
Get ready for the 'Age of the Unretired'

Nearly one in eight of the world's workers believe they will never be able to afford to retire fully while millions of people are not financially prepared for life after work, according to international research by HSBC.

The U.K. tops the league of workers expecting to have to work into their retirement in HSBC's "Future of Retirement" survey, with one in five Britons believing that they will never be able to stop working. That is closely followed by the U.S and Canada where 18 and 17 percent of people respectively think they will have to work indefinitely.

By contrast, only 5 percent of people questioned in Brazil thought they would have to continue working into old age.

The survey of 16,000 people in 15 countries highlights the changing global retirement landscape as economic pressures and longer life expectancy force people to work longer.

Those who are living alone in retirement are most likely to see themselves working into old age, with 36 percent of those who are divorced or separated in the U.K. expecting to work indefinitely, compared to just 20 percent globally.

(Read more: Pandemic of pension woes is plaguing the nation)

The survey comes as a U.K. study by the government's pension minister Steve Webb warned last week that the pension gap was widening, with up to 13 million Brits heading for an austere retirement after not saving adequately during their working lives.

HSBC's study confirmed such concerns, with two-fifths of retired people surveyed in the U.K. reporting that they had either made no financial plans or were inadequately prepared for a comfortable retirement _ with 35 percent of them only realising they were underprepared after they had retired.

(Read more: If Detroit cuts pensions, will your city be next?)

Despite lamenting the lack of preparation for their retirement, the survey revealed that Brits were far more resigned to a dotage lived in financial hardship than their global counterparts. Just 2 percent of people in the U.K. said they would return to work to address any financial shortfall, compared to 44 percent globally.

With U.K. life expectancy a long 80.75 years and the average retirement age of 65, a significant amount of people are working longer, however, with data from the Office on National Statistics (ONS) released last week showed the number of older people aged 65 - 74 who were economically active had almost doubled in the last ten years to 16 percent.

HSBC's report found that 37 percent of U.K. respondents approaching retirement age actually looked forward to filling their days by working longer.

(Read more: Company pensions inperil as shortfalls hit record)

"People want to slow down in later life and, while some welcome the chance to stay economically active, many may not. Whereas some people regard a comfortable retirement as a natural entitlement, for a growing number this is not the case," Christine Foyster, head of Wealth Management at HSBC, said in the report published on Wednesday.

If today's workers wanted to avoid working during retirement, they "should prepare for retirement as early as possible to have some certainty," Foyster warned,.

Almost half of U.K. respondents said that weren't able to realise retirement plans due to a lack of financial foresight when they were younger.

Showing that some things never change, only 15 percent of today's 25-34 year olds think they will have to work in old age despite life expectancy expected to have reached 91 by 2030, according to the U.K. government.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt

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