E26: Are you ready for your 100-year life? With Andrew J. Scott, Jennifer Howze and Becky O’Connor

The Pension Confident Podcast

by , PensionBee Content

at PensionBee Content

29 Mar 2024 /  

The faces are the host, Philippa Lamb, and three guests: Andrew J. Scott, Jennifer Howze and Becky O’Connor.

The following is a transcript of our monthly podcast, The Pension Confident Podcast. Listen to episode 26, watch on YouTube, or scroll on to read the conversation.

PHILIPPA: Hello and welcome back to The Pension Confident Podcast. My name is Philippa Lamb. This month we’re tackling a big one. Are you ready to live for 100 years? It might sound like fantasy, but according to a recent study, 40% of today’s Gen Z-ers are likely to live that long - at least! Now, whatever age you are, chances are you’ll live longer than your parents. And if you have kids, they could live a lot longer than you. So, just how long will we all be working, and what will retirement look like? Andrew J. Scott is an Economist, he’s bestselling Co-Author of ‘The 100-Year Life‘, which made quite the splash when it was published in 2016. His latest book, ‘The Longevity Imperative‘, hit the bookstores this spring. That’s right, isn’t it?

ANDREW: It is. And spring is a good metaphor because it’s about how we remain evergreen over a longer life. So, there we go.

PHILIPPA: Nice. Well, he’s here to paint a picture for us of that 100-year life and how very different it’ll be. Thanks for coming in, Andrew.

ANDREW: My pleasure.

PHILIPPA: Among other impressive roles, Jennifer Howze is a former Lifestyle Editor of The Times. So, she knows a thing or two about how people like to spend their time. Now she’s the Editorial Director at Noon. That’s a platform all about midlife and how to do it well. Thanks for coming in.

JENNIFER: Thanks for having me.

PHILIPPA: Joining us again to help crunch the numbers and plan towards a happy retirement, we have PensionBee’s Director (VP) Public Affairs, Becky O’Connor. Always good to see you, Becky.

BECKY: Hi, Philippa.

PHILIPPA: Now, look, before we start, the usual disclaimer. Please do remember, anything discussed on the podcast shouldn’t be regarded as financial advice or legal advice. And when investing, your capital is at risk.

PHILIPPA: So, how are we all feeling about the prospect of living to 100?

ANDREW: Well, it’s daunting, isn’t it? But I think it’s going to be good. But it’s going to be a challenge. So, it’s a new era for humanity, I think.

PHILIPPA: Becky, excited? Frightened?

BECKY: I just can’t imagine what I’m going to be like at that age? It’s very difficult to -

PHILIPPA: Wrinkly!

BECKY: No, something will have been invented by then, surely, to prevent that. At low cost.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, let’s hope so, let’s hope so. I don’t know. What do you feel, Jennifer? Is it a good prospect?

JENNIFER: I come from a family of people who live a long time. My grandfather lived to 92. My mother’s in her, well I won’t say, she’s in her 80s, late 80s. And shows no signs of slowing down. So I feel like I’ve been thinking I’m going to live to 100 - at least.

PHILIPPA: Oh, so you’re quite ready for it then, aren’t you? In a way that maybe the rest of us aren’t.

JENNIFER: Oh, I don’t know about that!

PHILIPPA: Andrew, life expectancy, it varies around the world, doesn’t it? But it goes up every year?

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s a really complicated thing, life expectancy. But, in general, what we’ve seen over the last 100 years is every decade, life expectancy has increased by about two or three years, slowing down a little bit at the moment. But that means every generation is living six to nine years longer than the previous one. So, yeah, there’s this long-term trend in growing life expectancy, which is why the government says about half of the children born today can expect to live into their early to mid-90s.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, I was looking at those figures. It’s almost one-in-seven boys, isn’t it? And one-in-five girls born right now are expected to reach 100.

ANDREW: 100, absolutely. And it’s funny because I think what we tend to do, if you ask, first of all, most people understandably don’t try and think about how long they are going to live for. Although when it comes to financial planning, it’s a pretty important number. And then when they do, they tend to think about their grandparents, which, of course, if life expectancy has been increasing, is an error. And I think one of the things that it’s so important to grasp is only about 20% of how we age is genetic. About 80% is our behaviour and our environment. So, how we age is pretty malleable. So, of course, this is their question. How’d you feel about a 100-year life? It requires us to behave differently from past generations.

PHILIPPA: And we’re going to live very differently, aren’t we? Because right now it’s loosely, well, in the West, anyway, it’s a three-stage life, isn’t it? It’s education, it’s work and it’s retirement.

ANDREW: Yeah. I often say in the 20th century, we created two stages of life, teenagers, and we created retirement - and neither of them existed beforehand. My father, I think, was never really a teenager. He went to work at 14. I think the phrase first was really used in a New Yorker magazine in 1937. So, we invented teenagers. We invented this elongated time when children were developing before they became adults, and then we introduced retirement, and that worked brilliantly for a life expectancy of about 65, 70. But as we now have people living well into the 90s, we’ve got a bit of a problem, because all we’re really trying to do is stretch out that three-stage life with talk of the State Pension age going above 70.

PHILIPPA: You think we’re going to move to a multistage life, don’t you?

ANDREW: My view is that in the long run institutions should support the life we want to lead. And if you’re going to live to 100, there’s two really important things. The first is you’ve got to maintain your health. The second is, if you’re not going to see a fall in your standard of living, you’ve got to be more productive over your lifetime. So, we’ve got to work. But the key to these longer lives is we’ve got more time. How do we arrange that time? And so the metaphor I always tend to use is, I said earlier that every decade, life expectancy has increased by two or three years. That’s like saying, at the end of every day, here’s another six to eight hours. So, if we made the day 32 hours long, not 24 hours long, what would you do with that extra time? And it’s not about just what you do at the end of life. If it was me, if the day was 32 hours, I’d get up earlier, I’d go to bed later. Lovely sleep in the middle of the day. I wouldn’t have three meals, I’d have five smaller meals. Some would still be called breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but they’d change.

And that’s my sort of metaphor for what needs to happen. Yeah. That multistage career. Because the idea of starting work at 20 and finishing at 80 just sounds remorseless. And I think I’d just sort of say one more thing, because what we did in the 20th century was, as life got longer, we took a lot of leisure after retirement. And I think we’re going to be working for longer now, but we’re going to start to take some leisure this side of retirement. That may be kids starting work later. It may be working part-time before you retire, it could be mid-career breaks - but that’s what I refer to as a multistage life.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, it’s interesting. We were chatting before we came into the studio about this idea of young people already shifting to a different way of handling their 20s, maybe than I did. When it was all about, like, finish your education, get a job. You deal with students, and do you see that in them?

ANDREW: Totally. It’s actually very interesting. We’re seeing a sort of emerging adulthood, which that’s the phrase that demographers use, begin to develop now, as people take longer before they take on all those adult responsibilities. My dad was working at 14, he’s married at 17, he’s got a kid at 18 and a house at 19. Wow! I did all that mid-20s. For my kids it’s probably early 30s. So, I think we’re seeing some quite profound changes.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, I mean Jennifer you’re nodding. Have you seen that in 20-somethings as well? Just this slightly more laid back attitude to it. Well I don’t need to start yet, on real life.

JENNIFER: I think the 20-somethings I know, via my kids, they feel a lot more comfortable with that kind of episodic nature of their lives. Now I’m doing this, or I’m not enjoying this. My daughter went straight from sixth form to uni. She’s going to finish her course, but she’s already planning to take a year off and go travel with friends, instead of having a gap year then. But feels like she’s set herself up for that, because she’s kind of whizzed through uni. That’s the hope!

How work culture may change

PHILIPPA: I was thinking about work, Becky, and this whole how it’s going to affect, well, employers. Do we feel they’re ready for this? Because if we’re talking about a more fragmented work life, maybe that’s going to be very different, isn’t it?

BECKY: I think they have to maybe change a little bit, the work culture, and particularly, ageism in the workplace is still a thing, unfortunately. And that’s going to have to change if people are going to be working longer. So, that’s one thing that needs to be looked at, but also employers being more flexible and allowing people to go part-time and then maybe go back to full-time at some point. If they’re a valued employee and you want to keep hold of them, then looking at how as an employer, you can arrange the job around the person to keep somebody valuable in work and earning is another thing.

JENNIFER: Well, also the idea that businesses, companies will be excited about their older workers because of what they bring to the table. In addition to their knowledge, soft skills, sophistication, just an ability to be in the workplace more.

PHILIPPA: I mean, it does make you wonder whether employers will get their arms around this now that it’s going to be everyone, not just women, because women have been asking this for a long time.

ANDREW: I think that one of the problems we’ve always had is that if you want to work flexibly and have autonomy over your time, regardless of gender, you suffer a pay problem. And if everyone wants work to be more flexible, then I think we’ll design a system that helps support that. But we’re a long way from doing that right now.

PHILIPPA: Becky, it’s going to make saving more complex, isn’t it? I mean, saving is predicated on largely a monthly or a weekly or a regular wage, isn’t it? Financial products are designed for that. And if that’s not how we’re earning -

BECKY: Yeah.

PHILIPPA: - they’re not really going to work, are they?

BECKY: I mean, we have Auto-Enrolment. So, if you’re employed, then you have a workplace pension scheme. If you’re earning over a certain amount and you’re over 22, which is a good thing. So, as long as you’re employed, you’re going to be putting something away into a pension. That’s a relatively new thing. But of course, the nature of pensions has changed over time. So, we used to have more defined benefit schemes where you’d get the guaranteed income from a certain age, and now they’re defined contribution and so it’s a pot of money at the end, based on how much you’ve paid in. So, that also comes into play in terms of the choices that you have available to you. When you can retire is possibly later than you might like to retire if you don’t have enough saved up in that pot. And so people, I think, will need to have a greater awareness of what they’re going to need when they retire because of this switch from defined benefit to defined contribution, where you need to think more about it.

ANDREW: Well, I also want to pick up on this because I think this has really profound changes for pensions. Pensions, the very meaning of the word changed because of the three-stage life. A pension is seen as the income you now get in retirement. But if we change from a three-stage life, then actually we need to think about long-term savings much more broadly. There’ll be many more periods of accumulation when I’m building up my wealth. Many more periods of decumulation when I’m running it down. And I think ‘making hay while the sun shines’, because in a multistage life, at some point you’re going to say, my priority is I need to build up my finances. At other times you might say, actually I need to take a break because I’m stressed out or I need to spend time caring for family members. And it’s that shift in motivation at different points. But that’s a very much more complicated pattern of financial accumulation.

Financial challenges in midlife

PHILIPPA: It strikes me we’re going to see more self-employment as well. If we’re talking about these sort of portfolio careers where we’re doing a bit of this and a bit of that and at different stages of stuff. And midlifers, I mean, we’re already self-employed, aren’t we? 48% of self-employed people over 50, I saw some ONS data on that. I was surprised it was that high. Do the people in your cohort reflect that?

JENNIFER: Yes, they do. A lot of the Noon members do have these portfolio careers, but a lot of them are switching. They’re trying to do something new. And so a portfolio career really plays into that. I’d like to say, too, I think we need to really be kind to ourselves. All that self-talk on those moments when we can’t save as much. I’m having a moment right now with that. My daughter needs more financial support when she’s at university. She’s not earning, even with loans and whatnot, I’m basically footing the bill for all that. And so for me, the idea that I’m going to be really saving a lot of money for myself, for my pension or retirement, that’s just not feasible. But I can’t get stressed out about it.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, it’s going to be a different kind of mental attitude to saving, isn’t it? As you say, it’s going to be incredibly important, maybe more important than it’s ever been, but it won’t be linear, it won’t be constant.

ANDREW: I like to think about a broad portfolio of assets. And of course, finance is incredibly important. I’m an Economist, I kind of know how important finance is. But if we’re to last these longer lives, we’ve got to think about how we maintain our health, how we maintain our skills, how we maintain our relationships. And all of those require investment. They’re things that you can build up and if you don’t, they diminish and depreciate. And I think that’s that point about being kind to yourself. You’ve got to think much more broadly. When am I thinking about earning money to transfer it to later periods? Or when am I actually taking stock and building up my health or building up my skills in order to give myself an advantage later in life?

PHILIPPA: Do you know, the other thing I was thinking about, we talked happily about portfolio careers and white collar jobs and all the rest of it. But what about those jobs where physical fitness plays a big role? And there’s a lot aren’t there? When you think about catering, when you think about retail, when you think about emergency workers. All those jobs where, with the best will in the world, you can stay as fit as you like, there’s going to come a point where you don’t want to be on your feet all day. And that’s a lot of people.

ANDREW: The truth is, employment peaks at age 50 and then people start to leave the labour market. For a lucky few, it’s because they’ve got enough money, but for many it’s because they become ill, they have to care for someone who’s ill or their skills become out of date, or there’s ageism and they lose their job and can’t get another one. So, this is this really important thing about how you prepare yourself for that longer life. It starts way before you’re 80 or 90.

JENNIFER: Well, you’d hope also that there might be a change in, not just the workforce, but also in companies. You hear sometimes retail companies have a theory that employees should never sit down on their shift and that kind of thing, which just seems insane. I hope that as more older workers stay in employment, that we’ll see that bias, especially in retail, that kind of area, where it doesn’t really matter if you’re sitting or standing. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re 35, or 55, or 65.

ANDREW: I’ve done a lot of work on this and about, over the last 30 years in America, there’s been - 80% of the increase in employment has come in the form of what are called ‘age-friendly jobs’. Jobs that are more flexible, less physical and give you more autonomy.

PHILIPPA: What sort of jobs are they producing in the United States then? Age-friendly jobs?

ANDREW: It’s a big shift towards office work away from other sectors. So, what you haven’t seen is much improvement in construction jobs but, for instance, manufacturing has become a lot more age-friendly.

PHILIPPA: Automated?

ANDREW: Automation and robotics. They even put seats now for the production line so people can sit down. They might slightly slow the machine down. Basically, computing robots is sort of good, I think, for older workers.

BECKY: In fact, the government, I’d want to mention here, because it’s quite a good program. I rarely compliment the government for great initiatives, but there’s a digital skills training program that’s available for free and I think it’s a great example of something that somebody could consider if they wanted to retrain and move into something else later in life.

PHILIPPA: Absolutely. I’m thinking about other positives. I was thinking about housing because obviously it’s not all about work, is it? It’s about where we’re living. Obviously now we’ve got this proliferation of single-person households. I did wonder whether we might move back into, kind of, multigenerational living a bit as people get older. I mean, partly financially driven. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Discuss.

BECKY: We’re both smiling. I wonder if it’s for the same reason.

JENNIFER: The family compound. I like that idea!

PHILIPPA: Not everyone’s going to like this idea. I understand that. It did occur to me that might be a bit of a shift.

ANDREW: It’s already happening. You look at the age at which kids leave home, for instance, it’s much, much later.

PHILIPPA: And they come back?

ANDREW: Yeah. I think what you’re seeing though is more older people wanting to be independent.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, I suppose I was thinking about money. I was thinking about people pooling their financial resources, perhaps later in life. Just that whole thing of, OK, we’ve got two or three dwellings here, let’s throw them all into one and hopefully produce somewhere big enough for all of us.

BECKY: [From a] practical and financial point of view, it sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But then there’s, you know, perhaps some emotional issues with sharing, with different generations of the family together and that kind of thing, which would put people off.

PHILIPPA: No question! And who’s going to end up doing the caring? It’s going to be women, isn’t it? I think we all know that. Everything we’ve said so far does really reinforce that idea, that point you made, Andrew, that it’s going to take a lot more planning and a lot more saving, isn’t it? So, just remind us how long you think people will actually be working for in this new reality?

BECKY: Don’t say forever!

ANDREW: Well, you know what? Some people will. If you’re living to 100, I think you probably got to have a 60 year career. OK, now I’m always slightly low because it depends how much you earn, how much you like work, what your health is. But clearly, if life expectancy increases by 20 or 30 years, if we don’t work for longer, you take a big cut in your standard of living, so it’s a little bit your trade-off, what you want to do. If you hate work and you really, really can’t work, then it’s going to be a challenge.

PHILIPPA: So, how long, then do you see people actually being, given that they’re financially able to do it, being retired, not working at all?

ANDREW: Well, I also think retirement sort of had its day already. And the idea that there’s a single age where everyone comes to a hard stop at work is gone. And I sort of think that the notion that you should spend 30 years not working at the end of life, I’m not sure it’s terribly healthy for everyone.

We fear getting old, outliving our money, our health, our relationships, our skills and our sense of purpose. So, what do you do now to ensure that doesn’t happen? But it’s a major change, because for the first time ever in human history, the young can expect to become the very old. And I know that sounds weird, because we’ve always had old people and old people are always young. But it was only a minority of people who became old, and now it’s the majority. And I always say, if it’s a 10% chance of rain in London, I don’t pack an umbrella or a raincoat. If it’s a 35% chance, I might pack a small umbrella. If it’s an 80% chance, it’s umbrella and it’s coat. And I say those probabilities, because that’s the probabilities of a 20 year old reaching 80 in the UK in 1851, 1951, and today.

PHILIPPA: Is that right?

ANDREW: This is the other thing. Ageing is malleable. We know that there are things that we can do that make us age better. And there’s no secrets here. Everyone looks at me when I say this, like, well, what do I do? But it’s like, guess what? You don’t eat so much, you don’t smoke, you don’t drink, you exercise, you sleep well, you have positive, good relationships. All of those things make you age better and maintain your health. And of course, what has changed isn’t the knowledge that that’s what makes us age better, but the importance of doing that, because you’re now likely to become old.

PHILIPPA: Because work plays into better outcomes for things like dementia, doesn’t it?


PHILIPPA: So, you don’t necessarily want to have 30 years. Actually, I’d hate the idea of 30 years at the end of my life where I wasn’t working. But I know not everyone feels the same.

ANDREW: But it’s not just work. It’s about being engaged, isn’t it? It’s having a sense of purpose and a sense of identity and something that you need, that you want to do.

JENNIFER: Maybe the difference is that when we say retirement, we’re not necessarily thinking of sitting around the house watching TV. That’s a time when most people start to take on the projects that they’ve always wanted to do. And the thing that’s nice about a portfolio career is that you might be able to weave that more into life throughout, rather than it being something you keep right toward the very end, to do once you’re very, very old and maybe ill.

PHILIPPA: There’s lessons here for people like me, who, I mean, you talk about the projects everyone’s always wanted to do. But for those of us obsessed with work, we need to think a bit harder, don’t we, about what are we going to want to do if we’re fortunate enough to get to kind of that time where we’re still fit and we’re able and we’ve got the money.

ANDREW: But this is the right question for me, the heart of financial planning, because I think a lot of people get nervous about financial budgeting and numbers. But everyone’s pretty skilled at budgeting with time. They’re all used to the idea of ‘how do I fit everything in?’. And what this really is about is you’ve now got more time. What do you want to do with that time? And your point about, ‘I enjoy work. I want to carry on working. How do I do that for longer?’, that’s great. Other people are like, I can’t stand work. In which case, if I’m working for longer, do I change my job? Do I do something different? Is it about savings? Is it about training? But this is all about time, and financial planning for me is always about - how do I get the money I need to use the time that I want, in the way that I want it. And that’s what we got to really remember about longer lives.

Retirement landscape and pensions

PHILIPPA: Should we talk about where this money is going to come from? Because I was looking at the State Pension, and you’ll know more about this than I do, Becky. But it’s interesting, I was reading that when it first came in, I think it was 1908, wasn’t it? I’ve got it written down here. The gap between when you got it and when you were expected to die - that was only nine years. And already it’s 15. So, that’s just going to move out and out and out. I mean, it’s a great benefit, but it’s going to be a very expensive benefit for any government, isn’t it, with its ageing population? Should we even be factoring it into our planning?

BECKY: Yes, I think it’s reasonable to factor in some State Pension going forward. Like how much of a proportion of your overall income that makes up in the future is a question mark. When you’ll get it, if you’re a young person today is another big question mark.

PHILIPPA: It could end up means-tested, couldn’t it? If it gets too expensive.

BECKY: There’s several levers the government could pull to try and make it more sustainable. But I think we all agree, a bit, like we all agree on the NHS being a good thing in principle, that some kind of State Pension is a good idea. But if we think that, we also have to then accept that it’ll have to be modified to some degree, given longevity.

PHILIPPA: That certainly means later, doesn’t it? Because I think I’ve seen suggestions it’s going to need to be 71, age 71 by 2050.

BECKY: I think what the government’s going to keep coming up against, though, is regional disparities and inequalities which, you know, increasing the State Pension age is always going to seriously disadvantage some people and not bother other people.

PHILIPPA: The sort of people we talked about who do manual jobs, or jobs that they can no longer do if they’re -

BECKY: Completely. I mean, there’s a really strong case that some people should receive the State Pension much earlier.

PHILIPPA: Sooner, yeah.

BECKY: And they can’t be ignored. So, it’s really complicated and even means-testing, you know, it sounds like a great solution to it but good luck to the person trying to work out where to put those boundaries.

PHILIPPA: And always very expensive, means-tested benefits, it’s complex to do, isn’t it? How much more money are we going to need? I know it’s a big question. We’ve got an Economist at the end of the table and you know all about this, Becky. What’s the answer?

BECKY: Well, so let me quote the PLSA Retirement Income Living Standards amount.

PHILIPPA: Please do.

BECKY: So, this is the amount that you’re likely to need for different living standards in retirement, if you’re single or in a couple. There’s economies of scale to being in a couple, not surprisingly. For a moderate standard of living, which involves going on holiday, a foreign holiday once a year, and a few other kinds of luxuries, eating out once a month and so on. A single person it’s £31,000 and for a couple it’s £43,000. And for a comfortable standard of living, you’d need an annual income as a single person of £43,000 and as a couple, £59,000 between you. So, that’s just to give you an idea.

And then obviously, if you multiply that by the number of years you’re expecting to live for, you don’t need that amount of pension, because if it’s remaining invested in the market, then hopefully that pension pot would grow. So, it’s not quite the same as just multiplying that amount by the number of years you expect to live for, you could have slightly less in your pot. But it’s quite a lot of money. And you can, if you’re entitled to the full State Pension or any State Pension, you can subtract that from those figures. And at the moment, we’re looking at a State Pension of around £11,000 for the full new State Pension. So, that makes it seem slightly more achievable, perhaps.

But if you’re thinking about a comfortable retirement, you’re looking at the top end of that. Everything that Andrew said about working and so on, you can supplement your income through work if you’re able to work, and I think more people will be doing that realistically.

PHILIPPA: But of course, you can’t be sure that you’ll be able to work, can you?

BECKY: No, you can’t. And this is why a pension provision of some kind is so important. So, you know you’ve got something to fall back on, because you can’t assume either that you’re going to be able to work and therefore none of this applies to you.

PHILIPPA: What’s your feeling?

ANDREW: Well, these are really hard and difficult topics. And as those numbers suggest for most people, including myself, we haven’t got enough for what we need.

I do think, in economics, of the concept of ‘human capital’, which is your skills and your ability to work. And if you really want to make sure that you’re not going to be badly off in a longer life, the really big thing to do is to invest in your human capital, because if there’s a change in the pensions or if you suddenly have to spend more money but you could earn some more money, that’s enormously valuable. So, the solution is going to be, for sure, saving more, but also really making sure that you’ve got that human capital, that health, that skills, that purpose, that relevance. That means if you need to, you can top your money up again.

PHILIPPA: It does suggest to me then that, I think we’ve alluded to this earlier, investing in resilience, your own personal resilience and your own happiness and connectedness. This isn’t just a nice-to-have in this scenario, is it? It’s really, really important.

JENNIFER: Oh, my gosh. I mean, this is what we see. So, Noon runs these retreats, and what we find is the women who come there, they’ve had all these really different things happen to them, some of them quite shocking. But what they’re really looking for, yes, they want to reset with their work or with their money, but really it’s about reinvesting with their relationships.

PHILIPPA: This is relationships of all kinds?

JENNIFER: Relationships of all kinds, yes. So, it could be family relationships, relationships with your children, romantic relationships, even friendships or colleague relationships. Just that sense of really getting in touch with ‘What do you want now?’, and that it’s OK for that all to change, but you got to keep your eye on the ball for the end goal. Are these too many sports metaphors?

PHILIPPA: Not at all. I think we love a sports metaphor. But it’s interesting you say that because, as you say, if people, largely women, everyone, firefighting up until midlife, basically making it all happen, keeping it all heading in the right direction, and then you get to this point where you’re thinking, ‘OK, now I need to invest in these relationships that, frankly, I’ve been neglecting and just not foregrounding’. How do they do that? How do you advise them that they can start doing that?

JENNIFER: What we like to do is take an opportunity to say, ‘OK, step back. Also, it’s OK. Loads and loads of people feel this way’. And I think for a lot of people, especially in midlife, they feel like, ‘I should have it all together. Why am I falling apart? This bad thing has happened, but I’ve always been so resilient. Why am I not still on track?’.

PHILIPPA: Yes, ‘I’m older, so I should be fine’.

JENNIFER: ‘I should be fine’. And that discovering other people also feel that way and creating that kind of community of women that are like, ‘yes, it’s awful. Don’t worry, you’re doing fine’.

ANDREW: This is so important, what you’re doing, because when we go through transitions, there’s a thing that anthropologists call ‘liminality’, which I got very excited about writing ‘The 100-Year Life’. Because liminality is that bit in between when you’re no longer what you were and you’re not yet what you’re going to be. And some people love that space. For others, it’s very difficult. So, teenagers, we invented teenagers, and every teenager knows they’re no longer the child that you think they are, but they’re not yet the adult they’re going to be. And so it’s a difficult time. So, we create institutions to help people go through that transition, and that’s what we need to do now as we’re living longer lives. Because if you’re 50, you’re different from your mother and your grandmother at 50, because you’ve got more time ahead, you’re going to go through more transitions. But that’s often painful and difficult and uncertain. But if there’s others around to help you, to reassure you and say, you know what, this is great, because the real point of a longer life, I think, is to develop as an adult. I think [David] Bowie once said something like: ageing is the wonderful process where you become who you were always meant to be.

BECKY: Exactly.

ANDREW: And I think that’s it. We think about teenagers as, oh, you’re developed as an adult or 30, you’re an adult. But as life gets longer and longer, that adult development has to extend. When life was short, we rushed through it. But now -

PHILIPPA: It was about survival, wasn’t it?

JENNIFER: Well, and that’s what we call our community of - they’re ‘Queenagers‘.

ANDREW: Right, brilliant.

JENNIFER: They’re still going through that massive change, but now they’re, kind of, grown up.

PHILIPPA: Yeah, that’s a whole other podcast. Isn’t it? Fascinating, it really is. Can I just have your tips? What should we all be doing right now? I know we’re not the people around the table, the generation that’s necessarily going to make it over 100. We might do. But maybe for our kids, what should we be telling them to do right now to prepare for this?

BECKY: Eat well, practise sports, follow your interests, I think -

PHILIPPA: Make a lot of friends?

BECKY: Just, you know, look forward to a long life and hold that vision. To not just think about the one thing that you’re going to do for your job or what you want to do, but just think about the opportunities that’ll arise throughout.


ANDREW: The key to all of this is that you’ve got more time ahead of you. So, you’ve got to make a friend of your future self, because there’s a lot more future selves and it’s hard to know what I want to do tomorrow, let alone in 10, 20, 30 years time. But you sort of know that if I give my future self: health, money, purpose, skills, relationships - I’ll have options.

PHILIPPA: Jennifer?

JENNIFER: Think about investing now. I know that feels a little on the nose because of what we’re talking about, but really make it painless and everybody should be doing that. Often I feel like we only talk to one small part of society or one age group or whatever. It’s for everybody.

BECKY: What I’ve taken from this conversation is we need to rethink what a pension is actually for and not think about it as just for the future when we’re not working, when we’re sitting watching TV or going on holiday or whatever, but as something that’s there as a backstop for many different life moments where we’re not working temporarily or not earning as much and just reconceptualise what a pension is actually for.


PHILIPPA: So interesting. It’s fascinating. Thank you very much indeed, everyone.

JENNIFER: Thank you.

ANDREW: My pleasure.

PHILIPPA: Next time we’re going to be talking about a challenge many of us have faced, trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Just how much are you spending on that? And did you ever wonder if you might be paying quite a high price for your friendships? We’ll be diving deep into the true cost of your social circle. I think that’s going to be fascinating. If you’ve got the PensionBee app, you can find us there and on YouTube. Please do rate and review us if you’re liking the podcast. You know we always love to hear your thoughts.

A final reminder before we go, please remember anything we’ve discussed on the podcast, it shouldn’t be regarded as financial or legal advice, and when investing your capital is a risk. Thanks so much for being with us.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Be pension confident!

Combine your old pension pots into one new online plan. It takes just a few minutes to sign up.

Get started

Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Apple Store logo Google Store logo