For those of us old enough to remember the TV adverts of the 1980s – one in particular, for a home emergency service, replayed the image of an elderly woman lying on the floor of her home crying ‘I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!’. The ad was the source of many a parody and comedy sketch. Decades later the raft of products and services for those older than 55, should move beyond simply enabling a better way to call for help.
The world is ageing and some parts of the world the population of older people is the dominant demographic group. This group are not only older, but they are living longer and healthier lives. The discussions about what increases in longevity mean for any number of economies and industries are growing rapidly and ageing has been identified as a mega-trend by many a thought-leader and analyst.
The UK included meeting the needs of an ageing population as one of the ‘Grand Challenges’ as part of its Industrial Strategy, in 2017. It is an important recognition of the opportunity to develop new products and services, not just for UK consumers but for a growing global market of older consumers (60+), which will number around two billion people by 2050. The FCA also took a closer look at how to best meet the evolving financial needs of an ageing population
Innovation figures prominently in both UK government policy and in the broader conversation around how to ‘manage’ an ageing population. The next-generation of tech driven minders are clearly on the drawing boards for many innovators – from loneliness combating robots to IoT devices that help monitor health and wellbeing in the home. Voice/AR/VR/Machine Learning are all providing new opportunities for the development of better solutions.
In Japan, for example, which is the fastest ageing economy in the world and has a growing ‘super ageing’ population (where those 75 years and over outnumber those aged between 65 and 74) the economic impacts have been mild. Those over 60, for example, are living healthier and more active lives and have money to spend.
The future impact of super ageing population remains to be seen but industries from entertainment to financial services have evolved to meet the needs of older consumers. Best sellers both by and for older citizens have flourished, for example, and financial services institutions are creating are creating products that ease inter-generational transfer. The basic rules of understanding your market and devising your strategy accordingly still apply but many industries haven’t yet caught up with the demographic shifts.
Government policy plays an important role in creating supportive environments for delivering better outcomes. Enabling the labour force to continue in work for longer – changes to the retirement age, protecting against ageism and changing regulatory frameworks where required (eg around later-in-life lending) is a key area of assistance.
Again, looking at the example of Japan, which celebrates its 35th anniversary as the world’s oldest population, government policy also looks to technological innovation to increase productivity, support caregivers (e.g. through driverless transportation or artificial intelligence) and looks to implement changes to the retirement age and pensions.
In creating FinTECH4Life, we are keen to progress the conversation around the market opportunity beyond just focussing on caring for the vulnerable (without detracting from the importance of keeping people safe and well) to explore how ageing and longevity create a need to re-think business strategy and to re-define outdated concepts of age.
By bringing the key stakeholder groups together at FinTECH4Life, we hope to inform, inspire and catalyse innovation. In creating a community that can learn from one another and identify opportunities where policy and regulatory changes can remove barriers and support innovation, creativity can be unleashed. This is not about designing a subset of products for older people but harnessing understanding and technology to deliver better products and services for all.