Longevity Conversations: Why Start Now?

What does “life longevity” mean for your clients? Read more.

By Matthew DiGangi, head of annuity distribution at MassMutual Strategic Distributors

It’s time to start having longevity conversations with your clients. As a financial professional, your job is to help your clients plan for their financial security. Today, that can mean planning for  30 to 40 years. Life expectancy increases with age. What about longevity? According to a recent article on the Longevity Technology website, “Life longevity involves an interplay of health and lifespan, defined as the number of years an individual spends in good health and the length of time between birth and death.” Today, people are living healthy lives longer — well into their 80s and 90s. Many will live to 100.

Healthcare advances are making it possible for people to live healthier longer. There are vast resources available to help people develop longevity-promoting daily practices: eating healthy, exercising regularly, spending time with friends and family, engaging in community life. Beyond individual efforts, scientists are involved in research to keep people younger and healthier for longer. Dr. David Sinclair, Professor of Genetics at Harvard, is a global authority on genetics and aging. In his book Lifespan, he writes, “Aging is a disease, and that disease is treatable.”

As a financial professional, you are tasked with helping your clients plan for their financial security today, and for the future. Part of planning for retirement with your clients involves asking them poignant questions, such as how they want to live the next 30 for 40 years and what “life longevity” means to them.

Currently, private companies are developing products that will add years to human life.

You may not be sure how to start the longevity conversation. It may be with this question: “How would you like to live for the next 30 to 40 years?” This question does a couple of things. Your client may not have realized he or she would have the opportunity to plan for what could amount to 1/3 of a lifetime. What interests would they like to pursue? Having more time to take classes, explore a new career, volunteer in the community, tap into one’s creative energy, travel the world are all possibilities!

You may want to introduce The Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator to your clients. This calculator is based on the New England Centenarian Study, the largest and most comprehensive study of people who live to 100 and beyond. Clients can find it online at www.livingto100.com.

The calculator uses an individual’s response to 40 questions, many of which are about behaviors each of us has control over.

This exploration of longevity will lead you back to more familiar territory: a client’s financial assets. What are the resources an individual will need to live a fulfilling life well into their 80s, 90s, even 100s? Many of the assumptions from the past will no longer be relevant. Many people will be working well beyond age 65, either in their careers or in a new endeavor. They’ll be living healthier and more active for longer. And please note: the language that once might have been used to describe aging is no longer appropriate. The Washington University at St. Louis School of Public Health offers guidance in this article, “Age-inclusive Language: Are you using it in your writing and everyday speech?”

The world is adopting a more holistic view of longevity. The experience and knowledge that is accumulated over time is valued and sought after. There are academic and research institutions that are working to change negative stereotypes and undo missed opportunities. Framing client conversations to ones that explore their thoughts about how to live well for the next 30 to 40 years will benefit your clients and you.

FOR FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR USE WITH THE PUBLIC.
This material does not constitute a recommendation to engage in or refrain from a particular course of action. The information within has not been tailored for any individual. The information provided is not written or intended as specific tax or legal advice. MassMutual, its subsidiaries, employees and representatives are not authorized to give tax or legal advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
© 2023 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual®), 1295 State Street, Springfield, MA 01111-0001. All rights reserved. www.MassMutual.com.
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