Most people in Singapore dream of semi-retirement, according to a survey by HSBC.

But some semi-retirees have to keep working part-time for financial reasons, it found.

The bank's study on retirement, Life After Work?, found that 61 per cent of respondents working in Singapore plan on semi-retirement - if they have not already achieved this.

The study defines a semi-retired person as someone who works fewer hours but keeps up some paid work as retirement age approaches. Those who plan to semi-retire expect to do so at the age of 57, before retiring from all paid employment at 60.

Reasons for semi-retiring are largely positive, with 57 per cent wanting to keep active and 43 per cent doing so because they enjoy their work.

But others do it out of necessity - 30 per cent cannot afford to retire fully and 23 per cent still need to work to bridge a shortfall in theirretirement income.

Some are not even sure if they can retire at all - 17 per cent expect to work their entire lives.

People without spouses are particularly vulnerable: 30 per cent of those who are divorced or separated say they do not think they can afford to retire.

The head of customer value management, retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Singapore, Mr Harmander Mahal, said: "Semi-retirement has unfortunately become the prevailing lifestyle for many who cannot afford to fully retire. Inflationary pressures, a rising cost of living and the desire to maintain one's pre-retirement lifestyle are driving people in Singapore to continue working."

He added that it is important for people to start planning and saving early so that they will have no retirement regrets.

But the survey showed that such lessons need reinforcement. Nine per cent of retirees here think that they have failed to prepare adequately for a comfortable retirement.

Asked what was the best financial advice they have ever had, the most popular answer is to start saving at an early age.

This was followed by saving a small amount regularly, developing afinancial plan for the future and buying your own home as soon as you can afford to.

Those who have done their sums well expect to leave an inheritance. Among fully retired people, 70 per cent will leave an inheritance, with a median amount of around $473,000.

As for the source of their retirement income, Singaporeans are buying into the mantra of self-reliance. Savings form the largest proportion of the average retiree's income at 29 per cent, with investment income making up 18 per cent.

State pensions or benefits make up 21 per cent of the retirement income, lower than the global average of 37 per cent.

HSBC surveyed about 1,000 respondents in Singapore via an online survey.