The future of retirement in a world of radical life extension achieved via rejuvenation treatments is that there will be no more retirement in the traditional sense. Retirement as an institution exists because of unavoidable frailty and disease in aging, and those outcomes will be ended through progress in medicine. The research and development programs that create effective rejuvenation treatments will take place over less than half a lifetime once things really get going. All too many people today are unaware of the potential for progress towards the medical control of aging, entering their professional careers expecting their lives to have the same shape and duration as those of their grandparents. At least some are waking up, however:
Human life has reached an inflection point - one that matters a great deal for those planning for retirement. People are living longer and trying to stretch their income to make ends meet and stay ahead of inflation, but that's not the inflection point financial advisors are really concerned about - that's just the everyday blocking and tackling on behalf of client portfolios. The emerging challenge goes way beyond that.
Scientists have found the mechanisms that govern aging and are already doing experiments in rats on how to reverse it. They've found species that do not die of old age, such as the jellyfish Turritopsis. "We're adding three months to life per calendar year. It's not an if, it's a when, and the point in time is in the 15- to 20-year range. In a decade or two, or three, there will be a class of people taking treatments who can live for a long time, and that affects employment planning, retirement planning ... Society will never have seen that before. The first person to reach age 150 has already been born. How do I talk to a client preparing to retire at 65 using the traditional model and with planning software that only goes to age 95? The financial model is broken."
The shift from a linear to a cyclical lifeline is already starting to be seen: The average American at age 35 has already had eight jobs. "It's not going to be birth, school, job, retirement, death," he said. Soon individuals will cycle between work, school, sabbaticals, more schooling and more work in a cycle that has never before existed. "It's going to be less about money in the future and more about the future. How do you sit down with someone in their 30s or 40s and tell them that they are going to live to 110 or 120 and haven't prepared financially for that?" At first the challenge won't be that the information is overwhelming; it's that the client won't even believe what the advisor is saying, making it the most difficult and potentially costly conversation an advisor needs to initiate. "They will look at you like you are smoking crack. It's the singularity conversation, and if they think an advisor is crazy, then the advisor will lose the client."