“Greying lives matter”
The annual Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference highlighted the supertrend of the silver economy.
“The Silver Economy – Investing for Population Ageing” was one of three “supertrends” that was discussed during a recent panel session at the annual Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference, which was held for its clients. Globally, by 2050, there will be more than two billion seniors aged 60 and above, and those aged 65 will outnumber children under five. Calling the statistics in Singapore even starker, Benjamin Cavalli, CEO Singapore, head of Private Banking Southeast Asia, Credit Suisse, “In Singapore, in 30 years’ time, almost 50 percent of the country’s population will be aged 65 or older.”
According to Credit Suisse, this irreversible trend coupled with longer life expectancies will pose immense challenges as well as opportunities to business and Government bodies across the globe. It shared, “With the silver generation currently valued at approximately seven trillion dollars a year, this demographic segment will inevitably function as a powerful societal and economic driver that will transform consumer markets, healthcare and property markets.”
Providing insights into this trend was a panel, which included Dr Samuel Bernal, professor of Medicine, Emeritus, UCLA; Janice Chia, founder and managing director, Ageing Asia (an ageing market consultancy social enterprise); Vafa Ahmadi, managing director and head of global thematic equities, CPR Asset Management; and Professor Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Singapore.
Kicking off the conversation, 80-year-old Prof Koh shared his views on ageism. “It is unacceptable to discriminate against a person on the basis of his or her age. Ageism exists in Singapore as it does in other parts of the world.” He went on to talk about older people and work. “Growing old is compulsory, but retirement from work should be discretional. … Those who work are mentally and physically healthy,” he said. “We should abolish compulsory retirement in Singapore.”
He added that by doing so, some believe it might “create havoc” but just look at two countries – US and Australia – that have such a policy and such an outcome did not happen. Prof Koh went on to share that in his personal circle, his optician is 89 years old and his tailor, 86 years old.
Further touching on the subject of work, he said he continues working full-time in all of his jobs. “We are short of labour and our fertility rate is declining.We need everyone to work such as women and older people. There are more jobs than people. … We don’t need to get rid of an older person to promote a younger person.”
Prof Koh added: “We should focus on encouraging older people to remain healthy such as exercising, eating healthy, working and not becoming socially-isolated.”
Strong spending power
He also shared about the wealth of older people. “In advanced countries, over 50 percent is the wealth of those over 65.”
Added Chia of Ageing Asia, “Besides healthcare, older people spend money on everything. … There is a huge opportunity but businesses look at the younger market.” Prof Koh called the older clientele, a “relatively new demographic”, and called on companies to look at the market serving them as a potential. “At the moment, they are underserved.”
Said Chia, “The first dollar is hard to get however, once you get it, older people become loyal. You need to get their trust and then you get them as clients for life.”
According to Credit Suisse, those who can benefit from this supertrend include: Online shopping facilities, food and drug retailers with smaller next-door outlets, smart-home device producers, e-bikes, leisure and tourism companies, gaming and casino companies, vitamins and dietary supplement producers, personal care and beauty product providers, prescription glasses and contact lens manufacturers. Producers of lipid-lowering statins, heart valve replacement providers, oncology pharmaceuticals and biotechnology specialists can also benefit, as will insurance companies offering life insurance products and life annuities. Assisted living services, senior housing operators, dementia facilities, ambulatory care and physiotherapy providers, household assistance and entertainment providers, and automated safety equipment manufacturers can also gain.
During the panel session, Prof Koh also addressed the need for retirement communities as an option for people who may want to live in their own homes but may not be able to cope. Chia added the need to have different retirement living options, and to consider “smaller-scale nursing homes because of the manpower issue”. She noted Singapore’s first retirement community at Kampung Admiralty, which integrates residential units, medical and surgical services, childcare and eldercare centres and shops.
The other supertrends that was discussed at the conference beside the silver economy included: “Technology at the Service of Humans” and “When Millennials Rule”.
(** PHOTO CREDITS: Credit Suisse)