Retirement Planning vs Longevity Planning

Longevity planning helps ensure a high quality of life through various stages of life. It is different from Retirement Planning, which is focused on ensuring financial security post retirement.

23rd April, 2022
Mahesh Venkateswaran

Retirement is a complex topic and something that is on the minds of most people. For a more progressive and contemporary audience, the word retirement brings up a negative connotation and represents a system that forces perfectly productive, active and healthy adults to become passive participants in society both against their wishes and abilities.

Retirement planning in India, for those that can afford to save and invest, has largely been associated with securing adequate financial resources during full-time active and working life to ensure a standard of living commensurate to their expectations, for the the post-retirement life. This could translate to investments in a house, fixed deposits, exhausting all major financial commitments to family (education of kids, marriage, etc), living in a safe neighborhood, and securing other recurring income sources (pension, rental income, etc).

Retirement plans offered by most financial institutions, in their current avatar, are modeled around your current income level, a fixed retirement age (55, 60, 65, etc.) and an anticipated lifespan (80, 85, 90, etc.). Given that individual lifespans are not predictable, it also leads to anxiety around impact of unanticipated events (medical emergency, loss of or limited mobility, loss of companionship, caregiving and mental health needs, etc) that have the potential to push a stable retirement income into a state of flux. Family and societal support in such cases can go a long way in reducing such anxiety.

Longevity planning, an emerging field on the other hand, helps ensure a high quality of life through various stages of life. Such plans may vary from one individual to another depending on how one perceives ageing and doesn’t necessarily follow binaries (work vs retirement, active vs passive life, medical care vs long term care, etc.), and thus more personalized, evolutionary and dynamic in nature. These particular aspects also makes longevity planning more complex as it requires multi-dimensional thinking and involves more than just good financial planning.

While retirement planning is a healthy exercise to undertake as it helps ensure financial security and offers peace of mind around later life, shifting the lens from retirement to longevity planning is a recommended framework to plan for various stages of life.

In the table below, I have identified 9 parameters that can help think through longevity plans in the context of retirement planning.

Recommended Reading

In one of my previous essays, I captured some of the pitfalls of the conventional retirement planning system, and introduced the concept of longevity finance, which is far more relevant for a country that is seeing longer lifespans among general population. Just a few days ago, the International Financial Services Centres Authority, through an expert committee, published a fairly comprehensive report around the same topic. One of the key initiatives of the GIFT International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) is to become the “Davos of the longevity industry”. For a more synthesized version, you may also read this LinkedIn post by Dr Ira Sobel who runs the Fintech for Longevity Forum.

Longevity offers a real opportunity for businesses (financial institutions, insurance companies, healthcare institutions, silver startups, fintechs, etc), academic institutions, researchers, and many of us to build frameworks, products and services to make later life more enriching and happy.

Retirement Planning vs Longevity Planning – A quick cheat sheet @silverangelsin

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