A Roundup of Theodora Lau’s talk at Digital Banking Week 

It seems that Millennials and Gen Z are always the target market for new fintech products and services. They are the digital natives who expect more and want an experience, but what about the over 50’s? Why do they get left out of the conversation? The baby boomers are not Luddites and as Theodora Lau reminds us in her talk at Digital Banking Week, the inventors of the internet and many of the products we know and love are all well over fifty. 

Lau is a co-founder of Unconventional Ventures, a consulting firm to ‘drive innovation to improve systematic financial wellness’. She is a big drawcard at all the big FinTech events worldwide due to her knowledge and expertise on inclusion and her insights in AI and bias. 

Although these stats on the aging population are from the USA, they are relevant to our population here in Australia. Lau asks ‘will financial institutions guide us through the new normal or will we increasingly rely on fintech and big tech platforms to meet our financial need?’ and ‘How would you reimagine the future of financial services using emerging technologies we have today to improve financial wellbeing?

Here are some key messages from her talk. 

People might be ageing but they are also spending. 

We are all getting older and anyone should have the chance to succeed despite age, gender, location and social status. The way we are getting older is changing, we live longer and are more productive and healthy but one in five people are now over sixty-five. People in the USA control 70% of the wealth and for every $1 spent, 51c is spent by a person over fifty. 

Being older does not mean financial security. 

Seven in ten boomers expect to be working past the age of sixty-five, 35% of full-time gig workers are over 65 years old and almost half of all retirees have nothing in their savings account. Caregiving is a growing reality with 7 in 10 providing financial support as part of the care. 

Student loans are framed as a millennial problem, 20% of student loans are owed by people over fifty years old because they either still owe from their own education or are paying their grandkids debt. 

Innovation is for everyone. 

We need to stop designing products for people as they age and design with people as they age. Stop focusing on tech for 18-35-year-olds, focus on solutions to meet the needs of everyone as they age. The average age of start-up founders is forty-two, half are over forty-five. The workforce now has multi-generations working and living alongside each other. The gender bias is real in salary, employment and the motherhood penalty. VC investment goes to less than 1% of female founders. Women now live longer than men and 80% of household money is managed by women, yet financial planners and services continuously focus on men. 

Ageing is not homogeneous. 

We all live out our lives differently and people over fifty still want a seamless digital experience. People of all ages need to plan and save, it’s just more complicated as we get older with changing priorities like decumulation, wealth management, caregiving, asset protection and retirement. 

How to make banking better. 

Banks need to use data to help people manage their money and drive insights that drive experience. Banks and fintech should know our birthday and when our kids are born, when we sell our house, when a spouse passes away and when our kids are studying. They need to create tools to help customers manage their financial lives, ones that automate transactions for what’s coming and provides them with a plan of action that anticipates their needs. What limits us is doing the right thing. “The future of ageing should not be one os survival – but one of living”.