70 is the new 40, but can banks keep up with the pace?

25 June 2013

United Kingdom

Paul Race



On a cold and drizzly evening I found myself at home watching the '70s sci-fi flick "Logan's Run" and it occurred to me that if the main character, Logan 5, were alive today he would probably be working for a bank.

For those who haven't seen the film, Logan's job was to 'terminate' people as soon as they reached the age of 30.

Why would Logan be working for a bank you ask? Well, I admit that banks and financial institutions don't 'terminate' their ageing customers, but they certainly don't place the emphasis on them that they should.

In March, a House of Lords enquiry found that between 2010 and 2030 there is expected to be a 51 percent increase in people aged 65 or older in the U.K., and a doubling of people aged 85 or older.

While the scale of the increases may seem surprising, the results are mirrored in studies around the world showing that medical breakthroughs and healthier living are keeping us all going for longer.

Yet the trend is something that appears to be lost on many of our banks. Given that it's becoming increasingly common for people live to 80 or 90 years of age, banks need to learn how to cater more effectively to an older customer base.

The main problem with the provision of financial services for the elderly is that ageing is a very individualized experience, and as people live longer they require services that meet those individual needs — not generic "off-the-shelf" banking.

Medical science is well attuned to the fact that individuals age differently and the world has made strides with personalized medicine in recent years.

If pharmaceutical companies and biotech start-ups can do it, then so too can banks. After health it is happiness and prosperity that people most value, so why then should we plod along with poorly tailored banking products?

Many older generations have experienced the benefits of a close relationship with their bank manager, making today's depersonalized high street banking even more of a bitter pill to swallow.

Many banks say they want a close relationship with their customers, yet ironically they address letters to "dear valued customer."

I myself am still with the same bank I opened my first current account with and use all the channels on offer to me with aplomb, but the personal touch is missing.

Fundamentally, we want our banks not just to be personal, but also to offer personalized services. This fact becomes increasingly apparent the older you become.

Banks, take a tip from me, you are not Logan 5 — respect your elders!

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