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29 April, 2024

Understanding the Shift in Life’s Timelines

29 April, 2024

In recent years, a noticeable shift in how people approach life’s major milestones has emerged. Andrew Davis FCCA, drawing on the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), discusses the financial implications of these changes. From starting work to buying homes, marrying, and retiring, the timeline for these life events is extending further into the future. Here’s what this means for financial planning and advice.

The Changing Timeline:

1. Starting Work and Leaving Home:The data indicates that on average, individuals now begin full-time employment at the age of 23, a slight delay driven by higher education pursuits. Correspondingly, moving out of the family home now typically happens at 24, three years later than a decade ago. High rental prices and the substantial savings required for a house deposit are contributing factors that encourage staying at home longer.

2. Moving in with a Partner:While the average age for cohabiting with a partner has remained stable at 28, there’s a noticeable trend away from marriage or civil partnerships at this stage. Cultural shifts have led to more couples living together before marriage, contrasting with previous generations who typically only cohabited post-marriage.

3. Family Planning:Significant changes are seen in the age at which people are starting families. Currently, the average age for having the first child is 29, a notable increase from 23 in the 1970s. Economic pressures and lifestyle choices both play roles in this shift.

4. Homeownership and Peak Earnings:The age for purchasing a first home has moved to an average of 36, pushed back by financial constraints and changes in the housing market. Remarkably, the age at which most people achieve peak earnings has also risen, now standing at 47, reflecting career progression and longevity in the workforce.

5. Retirement:Retirement ages have adjusted as well, with the current average being 66, up from 64 a decade ago. This adjustment is not only a reflection of economic necessity but also of increased life expectancy and changes in pension policies.

Implications for Financial Planning:

The delay in reaching these milestones has profound implications for financial planning:

  • Extended Financial Dependency: As milestones like homeownership and starting a family are pushed back, there is a longer period of financial dependency and less time to accumulate wealth before retirement.
  • Need for Flexible Planning: Financial plans need to be more adaptable to accommodate longer education periods, changing career paths, and delayed family planning.
  • Retirement Planning: With later retirement ages, individuals have more time to save; however, they also face potentially shorter post-retirement periods to enjoy those savings.
  • Insurance and Protection: As life events shift, so do the needs for insurance. Longer working lives might mean extended income protection and health insurance requirements.
  • Estate Planning: Delayed milestones might lead to later times for estate planning and inheritance planning, which can impact wealth transfer strategies.

The Role of Financial Advisors:With life’s financial milestones occurring later than ever before, the role of financial advisors becomes crucial. Individuals are likely to seek financial advice later in life, making access to professional financial planning more important as people navigate the complexities of a shifted timeline. The advice gap, particularly affecting younger generations, might begin to impact older demographics if these trends continue.

Conclusion:The evolution of life’s milestones prompts a need for dynamic financial strategies that can adapt to longer, more flexible life and career arcs. Financial advisors are crucial in helping individuals navigate this new landscape, ensuring financial stability and preparedness at every stage of life.

Call to Action:Are you noticing these shifts in your life or in the lives of those around you? It may be time to reconsider your financial plan. Contact a professional advisor to discuss how you can best prepare for these extended timelines and ensure that your financial future remains secure.