Exploring Financial Wellness for the 100 Year Life

Leaders Explore Financial Wellness for the 100 Year Life


The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Mercer are investing time and energy exploring how people arrive at financial wellness for the 100-year life.  To accomplish this goal requires a closer look at retirement as we see it today and assessing the value of redesigning retirement to enable people to reach financial security. 

What is the financial gap between what is needed given existing life expectancy and what has been saved?  In the Americas, there is a 9.6-year gap – that means the average person will deplete their retirement savings 9.6 years before they die.  While that seems a shocking number, in Europe and Asia respectively, the gap between life expectancy and savings is 11.5 years and 17.5 years. 

So much focus has been dedicated to improving our budgeting as we age, cutting costs and reducing needs, delaying, or denying unnecessary purchases – so we can stash away a few more dollars at every paycheck.  Yet, given the fact that we now live a decade longer than our parents and two decades longer than our grandparents, perhaps we need to broaden the focus of the equation and look at extended work lives.  After all, we have an extended life span, an extended work life seems like a logical progression.

 At 92, my Mother proclaimed that “Had I of known I was going to live this long, I would have worked longer.”  When I asked her why, she told me that it would have allowed her to have access to a better social infrastructure, added more purpose to her life, kept her brain sharper, and provided a cushion of savings and a few more dollars for treats and special occasions.  She retired at 62 and by 92, felt that 30 years of rest and relaxation (R & R) was more R & R than she planned for, needed, or wanted. 

As an Aging2.0 representative, I was able to attend the June 3rd, 2020, meeting that Mercer and the WEF hosted focusing on the America’s and Financial Wellness.  Their work dovetails with the Aging2.0’s Grand Challenges of Aging – and specifically the Financial Wellness Challenge. 

Given the work that I direct in Colorado focuses on promoting older adults interest and willingness to keep working as well as debunks myths and stereotypes of older workers often tied to ageism, I found the session enlightening and energizing.  It was even more exciting to see high level corporate representatives and aging experts at the table talking about the challenges and opportunities of creating financial wellness – and what role they can play in helping redesign retirement

We had the opportunity to review four scenarios of people ranging in age from 32 to 62.  We took a deep dive into the challenges each one faced in terms of their financial situation, their mental and physical health now and potentially in the future, who was part of their team to help them as they aged, and what planning they had already done to master the multiple facets of aging – especially financial wellness.  The plan is to take the design work brainstorming session results from this series of meetings across the globe – and launch a robust discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2021. 

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Karen Brown is the Aging2.0 Denver Chapter Ambassador and CEO of iAging. She is a thought-leader in technology and innovations for older people and is connected to, supportive of, and a consultant to a network of innovators in Colorado and across the globe.  She also directs the Changing the Narrative Age-Friendly Work Place Campaign, a partnership of NextFifty Initiative and Rose Community Foundation, delivering workshops evolving how we think about, talk to, and treat older people as well as intergenerational and age-friendly workplaces.