Health and aging experts are calling on businesses to take a fresh look at their preconceptions and policies relating to aging and retirement.
By 2050, the global population breakdown will look drastically different than it does today. In fact, the worldwide population of people over 50 will double to two billion by 2050, which is set to fundamentally shift how we think about both retirement and the elderly.
Aegon Netherlands COO Wim Hekstra; CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging Michael Hodin; and John Beard, the former Director of Aging and Life Course for the World Health Organization believe we should challenge our traditional perceptions on aging and retirement to get ready for this new reality.
The were speaking at a panel discussion organized by the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement (ACLR) in early December. The event was moderated by Mike Mansfield, Program Director at the ACLR.
Target audiences for products and services will change, since a large portion of the world's wealth will be in held by people who no longer work. In fact, 70% of disposable income in the U.S. is already in the hands of those 60 years and older, today. Michael Hodin suggests all companies develop a strategy to tap into the 'Silver Economy' business opportunity, as he puts it.
From left to right: The ACRL's Mike Mansfield; Michael Hodin of the GCOA; Wim Hekstra, COO of Aegon The Netherlands and John Beard, former Director of Aging and Life Course for the World Health Organization
Diversity in aging populations
Based on the data that people are living longer than ever and people over 60 are holding much of the world's wealth, Beard believes almost everyone has an outdated — even stereotypical — notion of the elderly. 'We have this 1950's view of old people being frail and ill. Today, there's much more diversity. Some 70 year-olds enjoy extremely good health, while others require significant help. The mandatory retirement age of 65 should be thrown out and replaced with the knowledge that life is continuous. Fortunately, Aegon is already on the right track with its purpose to help people achieve a lifetime of financial security.'
The idea that on your 65th birthday you're suddenly no longer effective in the workforce, is preposterous, according to Aegon's Hekstra. There is no one-size-fits-all concept for retirement. Indeed, Aegon's own Retirement Readiness research shows that 75% of people aim to continue working after reaching 65 years of age.
A key initiative by Aegon in the Netherlands to support active and healthy retirement is Startup Plus. This is coaching and learning program is specifically geared to entrepreneurs older than 50. The oldest participant in this program is 82 years old!
Call to action
Beard called on businesses globally to assist people in staying in the workforce. 'But not necessarily in the same capacity. Being 70, you are likely not interested in working the same hours that you did when you were 27, for example'. It's time to re-ignite the discussion on what retirement looks like.