Financial Planning and Epigenetics – Part 2

Based on my previous article where I shared the recent studies concerning longevity of human beings, researchers have found we can and will live much longer than we thought. In the very near future we will see people living to 150 years of age and beyond. In many places of the world we are already seeing indications of this movement towards increased longevity. Regardless of how you feel about your current society or country, this will happen.

As I said epigenetics will have an effect on our individual longevity. To better understand epigenetics, please refer to my article in the previous issue of this magazine or ‘google’ epigenetics.

So let’s examine what living longer means and its implications concerning financial planning.

Today the majority of societies in the world have an economy based on people retiring between 55 and 65. As these retirees leave the work force they make room for new employees to replace them.

As well, if 55-65 is your planned retirement age, then during your working life you will hopefully plan to accumulate enough money so that when you do retire your lifestyle will not dramatically change.

Life expectancy differs slightly country by country. You can ‘google’ to find out the average life expectancy in your country.

Based on your planned retirement age and your life expectancy you will generally know how much money you need to continue your current lifestyle in retirement.

In Canada (where I live), the life expectancy for a male (which I am) is 81 and if I retired at 65 and if my average income is 40,000 euro before retirement, then I would need enough savings to generate 40,000 euro per year for 16 years. To arrive at the real figure I would need to invest a large amount of money, that would earn interest, that I could draw from each year in retirement. It is somewhat complex formula and process, so I won’t address it in this article.

Now here is the problem. A huge problem! What happens if I suddenly live much longer! Instead of dying around 81 in Canada, I don’t die until 150. Wow! Bear in mind for the majority of my 150 years on this planet (according to epigenetics) I will be healthy, not old, broken down or sickly.

So if I could live longer and remain healthy, then I would not retire at 65. Maybe I would retire at 125. I know what you are thinking. You are likely thinking that you do not want to stay at your current job for 50-75 years. Who said you had to? I have changed jobs many times and at age 67+ I just started two new companies. So I have no plans to retire.

Back to my topic! So if people work longer in an economy based on them retiring sooner, then that economy is in trouble and would need to adjust.

If you live much longer than the current life expectancy in your country, then you will need to save a huge amount of money so that you can survive and thrive during retirement.

So what does all this mean to the financial services industry. It means people will need to buy much larger insurance policies to protect their families. They will also need to more aggressively save for retirement. Financial advisors will need to work harder to create a sense of urgency in the minds of their existing and potential customers to satisfy their longer life.

I know what you may be thinking. You may be thinking this will not happen in my country or if it does it will be a very slow process. It is that kind of thinking that will cause you to follow a change rather than lead a change. Epigenetics is not going away and we will see the results of it sooner rather than later in our lives.

Remember ‘Life is change, growth is optional!’

Epigenetics & Financial Planning

Recently I was asked to give a keynote presentation at a conference in Sochi, Russia for one of the largest banks in Russia – Sberbank. Over 700 particpants attended. They gave me free licence to determine my subject and my content. They were gathered in an area I think is one of the most beautiful parts of Russia. Sochi as you know was the site of the 2014 winter Olympics. Sochi is nestled in mountains of southern Russia near the Black Sea.

I chose to speak about a topic I just learned about, called epigenetics and its effect on financial planning. If you have not heard of epigenetics, I encourage you to research it and become familiar with it for it will have some effect on you and a much greater effect on your children and their children.

Let me set the scene and help you understand the basics. But before you read on, please understand one thing, I am not a scientist, but I do have an inquiring mind. I am sharing what I understand of the topic.

Every educated person understands that some behaviours we adopt shorten our lives, such as smoking (shortens our life by an average of 10 years), excessive drinking (shortens our life by an average of 20 years), and using any form on non-prescribed drugs (shortens our life by an average of 14 years). We also know the average life expectancy in our countries. Some are quite short, like Russia and other life expectancies are quite long, like Japan.

So I wondered, can we lengthen our lives? Can we increase these average life expectancies?

Well it now seems we can!

To simplify a complex science, through the study of genetics, the genome project and now epi-genetics we now know more about how our bodies work. We have about 24,000+ genes and approximately 16 trillion cells in each of our bodies. Each of those genes are chemically controlled by two attachments. The on/off switch (meaning the gene is operating or not) is controlled by Methylation. The degree that the switch is on is controlled by Histones.

A quick summary, Methylation is the on/off switch for a gene and Histones are the dimmer switch that determines how ‘on’ the gene is. A good example of this is autism. Even if you have the autism gene, you may not suffer from autism; therefore the autism gene in their body is switched off. Those that have autism can suffer with a severe form of it, or a milder version of it. Often the milder form of autism is called high functioning autism.

Currently I am dealing with prostate cancer in my body. I have found through research that everyone has cancer sells in their bodies, all the time. In my case the cancer cells are turned on, but fortunately they are dim. My methylation has switched on the cancer in my prostate and the Histone is dimly lit. By the time you read this article I will have had surgery to remove my prostate. I am confident all will go well and if it doesn’t, I will cope.

Now the most interesting thing about epigenetics, is that through gene therapy, and/or many genes respond to various triggers such as the foods we eat, our life styles choices, good (exercise, eating well, managing our stress, etc.) or bad (drugs, alcohol and/or smoking), hormones, stem cell treatments and others methods. In effect we can take greater control of our genes. An example of one of many things we can do is that bad life style choices shorten our lives and good ones extend our lives. Therefore, now we can significantly extend our lives.

Many scientists now believe we can live to 150 and older. Yes 150! For an example, at this moment Japan has over 44,000 people aged 100 or older. The oldest person in the world is now 127! So we are beginning to see the effect of gene therapy. Many scientists now believe some young children in our midst will live to 150 and beyond.

So here is the big question to all you who are reading this. If we can indeed live much longer (by the way, I totally believe we can live longer), then from a financial planning point of view how do we plan for a much longer work life and a much longer retirement? How do we price our products to accommodate longer mortality and morbidity tables and charts? How will society need to adjust if the population that is much healthier and does not retire at 60 or 65?

Very interesting questions! In my next article we will continue this conversation. In the mean time, please take some time to ‘google’ epigenetics. I am very excited about the prospect of a healthier society!

New business, new town and new home!

About one month ago my wife and I moved from London, Ontario (central Canada near the 49th parallel) to Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (northern Canada near the 60th parallel)! As you can imagine there are many differences. Moving from an apartment to a three story home, from a large city of 400,000 people to a town of 2,500 people, from our own home to living with our son, his wife and our grandson and finally, moving from a relatively milder climate to one with a longer winter. Having said all that it has generally been a very good experience.

Since our arrival I have started a new business up here offering consulting, training and coaching to mangers an teams within local, regional, territorial and federal government as well as to various companies existing in the Northwest Territories.

I look forward to offering my experience and expertise wherever it is valued here.

People don't plan to fail - they just fail to plan!

People don’t plan to fail, they just fail to plan!

Here is a nine-step process to ensure you have a more successful 2014.

Step 1
Gather together all your information for each month of 2013, including all your activities and all of your results. The more detail you have of your current situation, the better!

Step 2 - Activities
Now that you have gathered together all the Activity information about your activities in the past 12 months, take time to sort the information into categories based on Activities like marketing, promotion, prospecting, telephone calls, appointments made and appointments kept! Be honest!

Step 3 - Results
Now that you have gathered together all the Results information about your results in the past 12 months, take time to sort the information into categories based on Results like sales by products, sales by services, number of sales, volume of sales, income sources, monthly and annual income! Be honest and fully analyze your results!

Step 4 - Assessment
Now that you have information about your activities and results for the past 12 months, take time to assess where you we were effective and what you need to change! Break your activities into categories. What systems, processes and tools did you use and were they effective. A system is the four quadrants of your business, and they are Business Management, Activity Management, Market Development and Sales Process. A process is what you say and do in each system. A tool is something you show to the potential client or use to track your activity and results. Now build a list of activities you will continue and those you will change. Be honest!

Step 5 – Objectives/Goals for 2014
Now that you have completed the first 4 steps, now it is time to consider what your objectives/goals are for 2014. To achieve success you must accept it can only be accomplished through a step-by-step process. Once you have determined your goals/objectives, write them down! Now, break them down month-by-month. Be realistic! Next, share your goals with your peers, leaders, managers, spouses, children and anyone else important to you. I guarantee that if you do not write them down you will not achieve them!

Step 6 – Plus/Delta of 2013
An effective salesperson maximizes their strengths and manages their weaknesses! A very useful tool to accomplish this is the Plus/Delta tool.
Take a piece of paper, draw a line down the center, on the top left write the word Plus and on the top right write the word Delta. In the Plus column write all the things you did well in 2013. In the Delta column write all the things you plan to change in 2014. Do a Plus/Delta for each area of your business, each system, process and tool. If the system, process or tool works well for you then keep using it. If not, build a list of those things you wish to change.

Step 7 – Gap Analysis from 2013 to 2014
The difference between your current situation (2013) and your desired situation (2014) is called the Gap – therefore this is the Gap Analysis.
In this step you gather together all the results of the previous 6 steps and begin to look for ways to fill the Gap between where you are today and where you would like to be in the future. Let your mind go wild. List all the things you need to do without judgement whether you can do them or not. In the next step we will do a reality check to determine what you can realistically do in 2014.

Step 8 – Reality Check
The path between your current situation and your desired situation is not a straight path. It is a series of steps!
Remember you can manage your activity but not your results. You can only influence your results. So as you review the results of the previous 7 steps and you consider what actions you will take to move towards greater success in 2014, I strongly encourage you to focus on those activities which will improve your professionalism, increase your productivity and give you greater profitability. Now choose 3 changes you will make. Write down the changes you wish to adopt. After you have successfully adopted (adopted them for a minimum of 30 days) these changes, you can add more changes.

Step 9 - Action
This is the final step as you begin to adopt those necessary changes that will move you towards your desired changes for 2014
Many people make resolutions at this time of the year to be better in the coming year. Unfortunately most do not act on these resolutions. You must have wondered why so many never follow through on their resolutions. Hopefully the past 8 steps have given you enough reasons to change your behaviors. People can change, but lasting change must be adopted slowly and consistently to be permanent. Now is the time to act. Start now! Write down the changes you wish to adopt. I wish you greater success in 2014.

Make a choice to plan better for 2014 and you will improve your results. Remember … Success is a choice!