Outside Edge: Keeping pace

By Joseph Iannicelli | October 8, 2008 | Last updated on October 8, 2008
3 min read

And, while Generations X and Y are inheriting society, and colouring it with their own dreams and aspirations, evolving demographic trends are presenting their own unique challenges and opportunities.

We know all of this, but what we may not have a handle on is the fact that the pace of learning needs to be faster than that of change. We need to deliver products and services that meet people’s expectations.

Canadians today are living longer and leading healthier and more active lives. When the boomers retire, they will shift into a younger retirement lifestyle characterized by more energetic activities such as tennis and skiing. Consequently, they’ll more than likely need services that our provincial healthcare systems are unlikely to provide on a timely basis. These include new hips, new knees and management of healthier hearts and lungs. Governments will have little choice but to permit private healthcare for many of the most requested needs and Canadians will have to fi nd ways to pay for those services. To do that they’ll turn to the fi nancial services and wealth management industry for solutions.

Those of us in the industry, in turn, will address the healthcare needs of consumers by bundling products and services into fl exible packages, which will carry boomers through the latter years of their careers, and through retirement. Products and services such as consolidated investments, varying income payout options and supplemental health insurance will provide fl exible retirement income solutions. Taken together, they’ll provide peace of mind, suffi cient income to meet healthcare costs, and fi nance income needs as well as leisure activities.

Other demographic trends also need to be addressed. The so-called X and Y generations have their own needs and approaches to fi – nancial planning and investing. Being younger, they are Web-savvy and information-hungry. They use the Internet to educate themselves about products and services, to exchange information and make their purchases. In the next decade, our industry will also increasingly use the Internet to communicate and educate consumers, to meet regulatory requirements and to transact directly with clients.

These demographic changes will have an impact on the role of advisors, many of whom are themselves near retirement. The void they leave will be fi lled by Web-based services, new players from the banking industry, or a new generation of advisors who will play an important role in educating clients about fi nancial products and services.

Further, the increasing social, ethnic and religious diversity in Canada will create opportunities for our industry in years to come. It will become more acceptable to market products directly to specifi c segments of society. Products may also be developed to meet specifi c cultural or religious requirements, such as those that forbid the charging or earning of interest, for instance.

Meeting all these needs is going to require great research and a nimble wealth management industry, with the leadership and capital to react quickly to the changing demographic landscape.

Canadian wealth management companies have the people, the technology and the capital to do all these things. So let’s make the pace of change match our aspirations.

Joseph Iannicelli