Longevity and technology are redefining the way people think about education, work and retirement, and the wealth management profession must keep pace., according to Ric Edelman, chairman and co-founder of Edelman Financial Services.

In his opening keynote at the Digital Asset Strategies Summit in Dallas on Wednesday, Edelman said that advances in health care and technology are profoundly altering the human lifecycle, rendering many of the goals and messages used by financial advisors obsolete.

“Retirement is a 20th century innovation that will not exist in the 21st century,” said Edelman. “The linear lifeline is dead. The notion of being born, going to school, getting a job, retiring and then dying one after another in that order, which is how it worked for our parents and grandparents going back thousands of years, is gone.”

Moving forward, people will live in a “cyclical lifeline,” said Edelman, where they might have several careers and periods of retraining or education throughout their lives. People could work into their 70s, 80s and 90s not just because they need the money to fund their retirement lifestyles, but because advancements in health care mean that they will no longer be forced to retire at a younger age.

With global life expectancy increasing, it’s not only less likely that a person will be able to retire at 65 with sufficient assets to fund 40 to 60 years of retirement, it’s infeasible to expect Social Security and pension systems to support such long retirements, said Edelman.

Technology will also present challenges for lifecycle planning, said Edelman.

“Robotics and AI, according to many studies, are going to wipe out half of the jobs in America in 15 years,” he said. “That’s a combination to think of: You’re going to want to keep working, you’re going to need to keep working and to be a part of the economy, but robots and AI are going to wipe out your jobs. How are we going to reconcile that? It’s all about career planning for your clients.”

Advisors need to identify now whether their clients careers are at risk due to technological innovation, said Edelman. While physical labor and low-paying jobs will be the first to be automated, robotics and AI also threaten writers, lawyers and doctors, said Edelman.

College planning will also decline in relevance, said Edelman, as fewer people will want to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for an education that will be obsolete or need to be updated within a few years. That’s one argument for making a college education free. It will be more important for advisors to help their clients’ families with career planning and retraining than saving for a child’s formal four-year education.

More workers will take mid-career sabbaticals or brief, early retirements between careers, said Edelman, rather than wait until they’re too old to enjoy leisure time.

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