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The macro-trends impacting the 50plus generation

These trends are longevity, technology, our political landscape and now COVID 19. These trends have positive and negative implications and awareness and action are key drivers to understand how to navigate the future.

Longevity has this generation living on average ten years longer than their parents, 20 years longer than their grandparents and 30 years longer than their great grandparents. A longer life calls for an extra season to be designed into your life. In most cases this plan will rest in your hands, not your employer.

Technology has changed and is continuing to bring change at an ever-increasing speed. Some of these changes have moved to fast-forward with COVID 19. It almost feels like 2030 arrived in 2020. This generation did not grow up with computer technology. The workplace and individuals have been forced to use technology and work differently. Some have enjoyed the remote work environment and others have struggled.

The South African political landscape has impacted all of us in a pre- and post-apartheid world. If you are looking back from your view at 60, you were 34 in 1994. If you are in your late 60’s you were around 40.  Depending on your race, this may have impacted you positively or negatively.  Our economic challenges are being played out and younger generations will normalise, but this was not the case for the older generation. You may not have worked in formal employment long enough and as a result have not saved enough. Sadly, being the most unequal society in the world has been highlighted significantly at this time and much still is needed in the years ahead to bring better equality for all.

On top of these three changes, along comes COVID 19 and creates a “black swan” moment across the globe. The older generation seem to be hardest hit with high death rates in the over 50 categories. As Business starts up again, our concern is that many in this group will be asked to go on early retirement or be retrenched.

In a perfect world, many save the most in the years 50-65 once bonds and education are paid off. These are the years where we should be earning the most and as a percentage, it adds great value to our final nest egg. Living longer, means we also need to save for a longer life.

We encourage the business world to be wise in the decisions they need to make. Take care of your employees. Much of the wisdom and skill are still embedded in this group who have years of experience and often can crystallise a solution due to this set of skills. Prepare them for their next season, which will need to include earning in some form. It is not about retirement, but rather refiring and preparing them for the next season.

For the induvial, you need to start planning for a new stage of life beyond the workplace. There may be several pathways and you will need to think through a few options. As you navigate these options, it is advisable to work with a coach, a community and people who can help you think through different scenarios. Our own narrow thought process may not serve us at this time. Create several future paths, build, and reimagine the possibilities for each and then be courageous enough to start the journey. We are all navigating a new world. Be a social pioneer and break old thinking that will no longer serve you.

It is easy to look at the negative impacts and blame others. The other side of the coin is to look at the opportunities that this season can bring and to find your unique new future. Engage, be courageous and take the opportunity to learn new skills, share your wisdom and find new earning opportunities that match your lifestyle.