The silver generation offers golden opportunities

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The silver generation offers golden opportunities

Improvements in healthcare and standards of living have led to the average age of populations creeping up. And with that comes changes to every corner of society.

Providing medical care will change. The use of robotics has been mooted in helping the elderly. As people live longer, they may want to train in different areas and could be taught using augmented reality. In short, the companies best placed to meet the needs of the older generation could stand to gain the most.

Clients recently gathered in Zurich to hear from two leading industry experts on the subject of the 'silver economy' and the opportunities associated with its rise. Dr Stephan Sigrist, who founded W.I.R.E, a leading interdisciplinary think tank that focuses on global trends in business, science and society, opened the event with a deep-dive investigation into the opportunities that come with an ageing society.

“Such is the speed and scale of this demographic shift that the share of people over 50 is expected to double over the next 30 years," he said. The number of over 65s is growing at three times the rate of younger people in developed markets. This is especially evident in places like Japan where it is estimated that people aged 65 or more will account for 40% of the population by 2060. The implications are enormous and have many different potential outcomes. While technological ideas are almost unlimited in nature, few will likely be realised in a meaningful way that impacts society, said Sigrist. A promising avenue of technology is only as good as its ability to meet the needs of a consumer class.

However, the shift is likely to be gradual in nature. “This is going to be evolution, not a radical disruption," he said.
 

Such is the speed and scale of this demographic shift that the share of people over 50 is expected to double over the next 30 years, [Dr Stephan Sigrist] said. The number of over 65s is growing at three times the rate of younger people in developed markets.


Meret Gaugler, who co-manages Lombard Odier's Golden Age fund, said there are interesting implications for the travel sector, considering the current state of the retirement home space. “There are growing links between retirement homes and cruises," said Gaugler. “Retirees are more inclined to put off the move to a retirement home for perhaps a year since a catered cruise incurs a similar cost. Demand for retirement home places is also outstripping supply, leading to a shortage of available places."

Key to capitalising on the demographic changes is both identifying the companies that stand to benefit from this trend and the supply chain behind them - for example, the global skincare products market is expanding at a solid pace, underpinned by demand for anti-ageing products. Lombard Odier fund managers have now incorporated suppliers of the speciality ingredients used in this production process into their portfolio.
 

Key to capitalising on the demographic changes is both identifying the companies that stand to benefit from this trend and the supply chain behind them…


Sigrist said healthcare systems will receive extra strain as the population ages - and there are technologies coming on board to deal with that pressure.

"The key development in the medical environment is not in drug development, it is in diagnostics. This is the biggest change we have observed. We are diagnosing ourselves with the help of better tools available in everyday life and it will soon be no longer simply the duty of medical professionals. Diagnostics rely on data and we are getting significantly better at collecting data. Over the next 10 years or so, we will have even more data related to our physical and mental health which will support further innovations in diagnostics," he said.

"Engineers at Caltech University have developed an app which allows the camera on your smartphone to provide detailed information about your heart's health. This process would have previously required a 45-minute scan from an ultrasound machine. The app can replicate this process by having a patient hold their phone up to their neck for few minutes."

As the older generation controls an increasingly significant proportion of global buying, the changing megatrend is shaping our world and will have a transformative effect on our economies and the companies that drive them.

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