Rod McLaren: Words that work |||

Why am I interested in personal finance, healthcare and technology?

We’re living longer. The average cohort life expectancy 1 for a British person aged 65 in 1982 was 79 (male) and 83 female. The same life expectancy for someone aged 65 in 2012 is 85+ (male and female). And the same life expectancy for someone born in 2012 is 90+ (male and female). A third of children born in 2013 are expected to reach to age of 100 2.

In healthcare, this demographic trend means the demand for good health care, social care and related support will grow in future. At the same time, it’s clearly getting harder for the public sector to fund and service that growing demand. The patient journey through healthcare is often uncertain, confusing or scary. Post-austerity, we can expect the NHS to be under permanent pressure to change, to do more with less. Software is ramming itself into every industry, turning many of them inside out. So innovation is both needed and inevitable, and we will see technology innovation in both the public and private sectors.

In personal finance, the story’s the same. Our post-retirement lives will be longer. In the UK, the state pension will fund less and less of your retirement, and those minty defined benefit pensions of your parents’ generation are becoming much rarer (not least because companies and governments cannot afford them when we live longer). So working adults will have to do more to provide for their own futures. Anyway, if you’re smart and have a decent job perhaps you feel a moral duty to provide for your future 3 so that the social safety net can more easily catch those whose need will be greater than yours.

And here’s my personal angle: Yesterday - yesterday I tell you - I was 25 and felt immortal. Minutes later, here and now in 2015, I am in my mid-forties. If I’m very lucky, I’m halfway through my working life. I have experienced a few family and personal journeys through human frailty and medicine - sobering, thought-provoking, sometimes terrifying, occasionally joyful experiences. I have half of a financial plan worked out and a lot of things I wish I’d known when I was 25. What would I tell my 25-year-old self? What should I do next?

There are so many questions. How do we imagine our futures? How do we plan for the longer term? Why is it hard to plan ahead? What motivates us to put tomorrow’s needs ahead of satisfaction today? How do we know if we’re on track? How to think about risk? What to think about future-you? Where will you need help? What to do now?

I will explore these ideas, then perhaps some tools and toys, maybe even a business. If you’re working in these areas, let’s talk.

  1. period vs cohort life expectancies - in short, cohort is often a more useful measure because it makes allowance for future mortality improvements and this is a good exploration of the differences between the two.↩︎

  2. The sources are all Office of National Statistics: 65 in 1982, 65 in 2012, born in 2012, age 100.↩︎

  3. An October 2015 poll by OnePoll for Abundance found that 80% of those aged 18-34 see themselves as responsible for ensuring they have an income in retirement, yet just 44% currently hold a pension↩︎

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