Facing the baying crowds on both sides of the chamber must be a very intimidating prospect, so I am always impressed when the Chancellor of the Exchequer doesn’t cash in on the traditional whiskey or other alcoholic nerve suppressor when delivering their budget statements.
The new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, seemed content with water as he delivered his very first Autumn Statement having taken over the reins from George Osborne. In a speech dominated by the expected impact of our departure from the European Union, I was hardly surprised to hear very little time dedicated to pensions and later life finance. Hammond did commit the government to securing the ‘triple-lock’ until the end of this parliament, but the rest of his time was focused on the macro-economics of growth forecasts and OBR stats.
However, what Hammond’s Autumn Statement did make clear to me was that in this uncertain time of the Brexit and Trump, we must not let other important issues slide by unnoticed. For decades we have stood idly by as the population ages and the amount of people in retirement swells uncontrollably. Of course, there is very little we can do about the increasing numbers of elderly people, but we can debate and discuss how policy and products can make this growing population have the retirements they deserve.
However, with the government distracted, it’s down to those of us within the industry to make the required noise about population ageing in order to motivate those in Westminster to do something about it.
In just a few short decades there will be millions more people in retirement than there are right now, and many of these, if not the majority, will realise that their meagre savings will not stretch far enough. We should have started planning for this properly years ago, but we still have the opportunity to create a retirement lending industry that will help the retirees of the future (which could well include you reading this article).
How do we do this? Well, we must focus on creating innovative products that are covered in the one thing that can help large swathes of customers in differing positions – flexibility.
The increasing amount of flexibility in modern equity release products has been a great success, and we must continue to look to create new levels of sophistication and flexibility within our products. The very concept of retirement is going to change very soon, and although the government isn’t mentioning it right now, a new era of retirement lending is coming. And we need to start getting ready now.