Financing Longevity means getting to grips with a collision of megatrends and surfing the Silver Tsunami.
In the second of our two-part interview with Margaretta Colangelo, we address the megatrends addressed in her forthcoming book Longevity Industry 1.0, a new publication that she wrote with co-author Dmitry Kaminskiy to provide a full-scope understanding of the global Longevity industry.
Longevity Technology: In your forthcoming book, you say that the current global aging trend will allow for one of two economic outcomes. One negative, one positive. Which outcome do you think is more likely? What action needs to be taken to ensure the outcome is positive?
Margaretta Colangelo: The present moment in history is characterized by the convergence and oncoming collision of two opposed Longevity megatrends: advanced biomedicine, which can increase Healthy Longevity and reduce the burden of aging populations, and the silver tsunami, which threatens to shrink the size of working populations, strain existing age-dependency ratios, and potentially break national healthcare systems if not addressed proactively.
“The collision of aging population and healthy Longevity defines the limited window of opportunity …”
The collision of aging population and healthy Longevity defines the limited window of opportunity in which we have to act, and impacts humanity on multiple scales, applying equally to national governments as it does to the financial industry, Longevity industry participants (entrepreneurs, investors, scientists, etc.), and the public.
The majority of the responsibility lies on national governments, because they have the most power to enact large-scale change in industry, healthcare, finance and social and public policy. The next several years will separate the nations who succeed to thrive upon the collision of these two trends, transforming a source of potential loss into one of unlimited opportunity and growth, and those who fail to act proactively enough, and drown under the wave of the silver tsunami.
“The major steps that need to be taken, and the critical factors that determine whether the collision of these two opposed MegaTrends is positive or negative for humanity, is proactivity …”
The major steps that need to be taken, and the critical factors that determine whether the collision of these two opposed MegaTrends is positive or negative for humanity, is proactivity. We face a limited window of opportunity, and concerted, urgent action is imperative.
AI for Longevity, for example, is a sector with unprecedented levels of potential to accelerate progress in almost all sectors of Longevity, from financial wellness to P4 medicine, geroscience R&D, Longevity Governance and the practical extension of Healthy Human Longevity, but gets disproportionately small levels of investment from the VC community and the government with respect to its potential. This is just one example, but it really drives home the urgent importance of coordinated synchronization and harmonization of cross-sector activity and development.
Longevity Technology: You say that aging should be considered not as one of the most acute problems of our time, but as one of the most promising opportunities. What changes in mindset are required to ensure that opportunities are seized?
Margaretta Colangelo: The most important changes in mindset are optimism and confidence. While the challenges of extended lifespans, both personal and national (i.e. for individuals and for governments) are evolving, so are the available set of technologies and techniques to neutralize those challenges and transform them into opportunities. Our toolset for fixing these problems is developing faster than the problems are accruing. Now, this does not cancel out the fact that we have a limited window of opportunity in which to act, but it should give us hope that these issues are completely surmountable if we act proactively enough, and that, indeed, it is possible to turn them around into net-positive sources of growth, stability and prosperity, including healthier, happier, more independent and productive lives for individuals, and the very same for nations.
Longevity Technology: What do you mean by Longevity Valley, and what makes Switzerland the ideal base for such a hub?
Margaretta Colangelo: The financial reforms that are necessary can realistically only be implemented in progressive countries led by technocracy-driven governments. Several countries are working on establishing the grounds for fruitful future Longevity-related financial products and instruments, such as Switzerland for example. Switzerland in particular has all the elements necessary to become a leading Longevity financial hub, due to such factors as a lean political system that facilitates rapid implementation of integrated government programs, a strong research environment for geroscience, a strong research and business environment for digital health, and most importantly, international financial prowess.
“The financial reforms that are necessary can realistically only be implemented in progressive countries led by technocracy-driven governments…”
Switzerland was also recently recognized by the United Nations as the most AgeTech friendly country. The Longevity Valley will attract people who prioritize maximizing their healthspan and wealthspan. The first Longevity Bank is also expected to emerge in Switzerland since the pillars needed for the success of such a bank are present there. These pillars include a progressive RegTech environment, sufficient FinTech development, a MedTech ecosystem, and a significant number of individuals 60+ who fit the client profile.
In the near future, FinTech, AI, and data-driven technologies will converge into a single advanced technology. Next generation financial companies will use engineering methods with integrated systems to treat business, finance and technology as a single unit with complementary parts. The resulting FinTech 2.0 will offer unprecedented potential for growth and disruption. Humans have always desired health, wealth, and Longevity, but usually had to settle for one or two. For the first time people are planning for a very different future with the possibility of living to 100 and beyond and being healthy and financially stable the whole time. Switzerland stands a very strong chance of being one of the first such MegaHubs exactly because of its unique constellation of factors, ranging from technological to regulatory, political, biomedical and financial.
Longevity Technology: What could this financial revolution mean for our own attitudes to how we live our lives later into life?
Margaretta Colangelo: Over the past 100 years the financial industry has largely excluded people in retirement. Even today tech entrepreneurs are ignoring financial inclusion for people over 60, who make up the wealthiest part of the financial system, and instead, are developing financial products for younger people.
“Even today tech entrepreneurs are ignoring financial inclusion for people over 60 … Longevity Banks will develop new financial products designed for clients who are planning to live extra long lives …”
In the next few years, age-friendly FinTech companies and Longevity Banks will develop new financial products designed for clients who are planning to live extra long lives and want to remain high functioning and financially stable throughout. Clients of Longevity Banks will have more time to accumulate wealth, will have a longer investment horizon, and will benefit from compounding.
Financial services innovators have an opportunity to enhance the financial lives of a billion people by designing new solutions and adapting existing products and services, effectively de-risking Longevity and the problem of aging population, and converting it into a source of growth and untapped market potentials.