Planning towards your century

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The extraordinary fundraising achievements of the 100 year old Captain Tom Moore have highlighted both how long some of us will continue to lead active and fruitful lives, and also how much the quality of such a long life will depend on how well we’ve planned for it.

The number of people who celebrate their 100th birthday has quadrupled in the last 30 years, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Pre Covid-19 this trend looked likely to continue, with the ONS forecasting that around 19% of all new-born girls (and 14% of all new-born boys) will become centenarians.

The downside of living a long time in retirement is that your finances might not last the course. Most people start the last third of their lives in reasonably good health and with apparently adequate resources. But a long life does not always imply a healthy life. You might well need help with care costs if you were to fall ill or require help with your basic living activities. It is also likely that individuals will have to make a significant contribution towards their care costs in the future.

The other calls on retirees’ financial resources may come from their families. The costs of going to university, buying a house, as well as school fees for the youngest relatives could all impact on the solvency of that great institution – the bank of mum and dad, or grandma and granddad. In addition, there could be the need, or at least the desire, to make a dent in a potential inheritance tax bill by making some lifetime gifts.

The traditional three life stages­ of education, work and retirement ­have become increasingly blurred as people retrain, set up their own businesses and switch careers for a longer working life. This gradual transition from work to retirement needs to be planned for.

Creating the right mix between investments, pensions and earned income will be key: planning that far ahead is never easy, so professional financial advice should be your first port of call.

If you are drawing up a financial plan to see you through to your late 90s, here are some practical steps to consider:

One lesson we can learn from Captain Tom – there’s always scope for something new.


The value of your investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.

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