Although technological gadgets have largely been targeted at Millennials, the aging have as much or more to gain from them as their grandchildren, according to John Diehl, senior vice president, strategic markets at Hartford Funds. According to Diehl, taking advantage of available and emerging technology can make a significant difference in a person’s life expectancy and the quality of life for individuals as they age. And, advisors who help their older clients feel at home with technology will be providing an invaluable service that will distinguish them from competitors.
Like any service provider, financial advisors must provide exceptional experiences for their clients to differentiate themselves, said Diehl, who also oversees Hartford Funds’ relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. “Creating remarkable experiences is key to your future,” he added.
Just as restaurateur Danny Meyers says he’s not in the food business but the hospitality business, financial advisors are not in the transaction or planning business but the longevity solutions advisory business, Diehl explained.
The recipe for a longer, more satisfying life is maintaining connections with other people, being mobile, and continuing to learn. And, as people lose physical capabilities, technology can compensate and prevent the erosion in life satisfaction that might otherwise occur.
Diehl said there are three questions of which the answers are predictive of the quality of people’s lives as they age:
- This is a metaphor for the question of where one will live when elderly. Most people expect to live at home when they are elderly, but Diehl said there are complications with this, not least the fact that the average home is 75 years old. AgeLab says people over 50 will move as many times as they did prior to turning 50. This is a consideration that certainly must be part of one’s financial plan, Diehl added.
- This represents the larger question of one’s mobility. Diehl asked, “If a person can’t drive, how does he or she do stuff that makes life worth living?”
- This stands for the issue of the breadth and depth of a person’s relationships late in life. The need for these connections explains why many people over retirement age continue to work, even though they don’t need the money.
To illustrate how technology can help people address these issues as they age, Diehl showed a cartoon video of an elderly woman leading what is depicted to be a full and happy life, largely because she is highly adept at taking advantage of numerous apps on her smartphone and other technological devices.
She is shown going out, by means of Lyft, to meet her grandchildren for ice cream cones; meeting with friends, again by virtue of other ridesourcing apps; ordering fresh groceries through online food delivery services; and calling in a handyperson to fix a broken doorknob using TaskRabbit.
The MIT AgeLab has found that although the usage rate of social media among people 65 and over is the lowest of all age groups, people age 60 and over are the fastest growing adopters of smart technology. This is largely attributable to their having the financial wherewithal to buy technological devices and the services they can provide access to, and their desire to stay connected.
This provides an important opportunity, and imperative, for advisors, explained Diehl. Noting that just four percent of Americans over 65 have used a ridesourcing service, Diehl urged advisors to not only show clients how to download a ridesourcing app, but also to go on an outing with them, showing them, step by step, how to use the app.
“Your client will spread the word,” he concluded.