“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West 

Focus on what you can control and leave what you can’t is good adviceHealth is one of these areas we can influence, but not control. Diet, exercise, and lifestyle can all help maintain our quality of life, and even extend life expectancy. And there is a clear connection between health and wealth. Generally, those with higher levels of financial resources enjoy better health and longevity compared to those who live under financial pressure with low income. Today, constructing a financial plan can help improve and extend our financial, mental, and physical health. However, it wasn’t always worth planning for old age”.  

At the dawn of the 19th century, global life expectancy was only 28.5 years. 

Pandemics, war, and famine would kill millions at regular intervals. These issues are still present today, but globally the situation has vastly improved. Today, most people live in countries where the life expectancy is above 65. While inequality remains a major issue within countries, income disparity between countries is slowly beginning to narrow. 

History shows that most countries move towards higher average incomes and rising life expectancy, but the journey is rarely continuous.  

1880s: Breaking the 50-Year Barrier 

Late in the 19th century, Sweden and Norway had broken through the 50-year life expectancy milestone. By way of comparison, global life expectancy was a full 20 years shorter at this time. 

1918: The Spanish Flu and WWI 

World War 1 and the outbreak of Spanish Flu converged, sending longevity statistics into a tailspin. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 infected around 500 million people worldwidekilling an estimated 20 million to 50 million peopleUnlike our present pandemic, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this killer flu strain. Citizens were ordered to wear masks, with schools, theatres, and businesses forced to close as the world watched and waited for the virus to end. It sounds all too familiar as we too watch and wait, but thankfully vaccines are beginning to replace anxiety with hope. 

1933, 1960: Communist Famines

Occasionally, human decisions have had catastrophic consequences. Russia in 1933 and China in 1960 saw life expectancy plummet due to famines that killed millions.  

1960s: Oil Economies Kick into High Gear

The ‘60’s oil boom created massive wealth in Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, with the UAE and Kuwait following a decade later. In the following years, however, there were wild fluctuations in both health and wealth as regime change and conflict destabilized the region. 

1990s: AIDS in Africa 

Sub-Saharan African countries were hit hard by the AIDS pandemic. At its peak in the early ’00s, the disease accounted for more than half of deaths in some countries. 

1995: Breaking the 65-Year Barrier

Amazingly it was only 25 years ago that global life expectancy reached what we recognised as normal retirement age for menEven in the UK many people, possibly previous generations of our own family, did not enjoy lengthy retirements. We are now considering how to help people fund a retirement that could be just as long as their time in employment. 

1990-2000s: China’s Economic Rise

It’s impossible to ignore China in any global overview. Starting from the early ’90s, China’s economic rise has been mirrored by improving health and increasing life expectancy. 

What the Future Holds 

Wealth is expected to increase globally, but not uniformly. The biggest gains are expected from places like Vietnam, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Experts are projecting the world economy to double in size by 2050. It appears that the journey to better health, wealth and (let us hopehappiness, is still very much underway. 

On a personal note, a recent pension investment statement arrived, and while talking it over with my wife I started to list other “bits and pieces” of finances. My wife asked, “how would I have known about this if you weren’t around, where would I go to find them?” We have a will, but we didn’t have a“In Case of Emergency” box. Now we do. 

We can all get caught off-guard by major life events. At Stewardship Wealth we have the privilege of looking after our clients and their family’s financial and life planning. While we plan for vitality, we cannot ignore mortality. As a result, wcreate “In Case of Emergency” folders for each of our clients that contains all the information relating to the family’s financial position, plus details of any wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. This takes the pressure off the need for ploughing through paperwork to provide all the information required in a crisis. We can take that administrative reporting responsibility off your hands to allow more time with family and friends and others needing support. 

We can be well-prepared, but still be stopped in our tracks by events. Our role is to ensure the future plans you’ve thought about and planned for go on as you intendedwhether you are present or not. We have client families who have thought long and hard about making sure “life goes on” for their families. Stewardship Wealth will continue supporting client families through crises by guiding them through the forethought and prudent planning created with them in mind. Our job then becomes helping the next generation to do the same.