Deals That Help Silver Savers Strut Their Stuff ; Financial Products Aimed at Britain's 20 Million People Aged 50- Plus Are Springing Up All over. but Which Ones Offer Real Value for Money?
Shaw, Esther, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
They've worked all their lives, built up equity in their homes, have plenty of disposable income ... and time to spend it. And their ranks are growing: they're Britain's fit and fun-loving over-50s.
Today, there are more than 20 million people in the UK aged 50 or more. Making up about a third of the population, they are as far as is possible to imagine from the traditional image of grandmas and grandads.
Older people - many enjoying final salary pensions no longer being offered to young workers - are huge contributors to the economic wellbeing of their families, communities and workplaces, according to a report from HSBC entitled The Future of Retirement. It found that Britons are not only living longer, but are in many cases living better than ever before.
So while this group was once low on the priority list for providers of financial services, the industry can no longer afford to ignore them. They hold a large percentage of the nation's assets and carry a great deal of financial clout.
Recent findings from the think-tank Future Foundation show that the 50-plus age group have a combined wealth of [pound]560bn and a spending power of [pound]175bn - making up 40 per cent of all consumer spending.
The over-50s are saving more than they did 50 years ago - with pensioners now having triple the amount of savings - while spending, especially on "luxury goods", has also increased dramatically.
Unsurprisingly, providers are waking up to the fact that this is where the money is - and are now battling to get their share of the valuable "grey" pound.
While the market includes mainstream providers offering targeted products, there is also a dedicated band of specialists such as Saga, Rias, Age Concern and Help the Aged.
Earlier this month, the latter launched a new financial services company, intune, offering a range of products including home, car and travel insurance.
"Age should not be a barrier to getting the financial products that people need," says its spokeswoman, Anne Grahamslaw. "None of our products and services has an upper age limit."
But many providers do have an upper age limit, for fear of too many expensive claims. "Many companies are guilty of lumping the over-50s into one amorphous 'grey' market, and being inflexible or discriminatory with their products and services," Ms Grahamslaw adds. But with specialist companies targeting older people, it is important to ask if they truly offer the best deals or if it's all a ploy to dupe consumers into making lazy decisions.
Thanks to the higher risk of an elderly traveller suffering a mishap or illness, more than 90 per cent of travel insurance policies still impose an upper age limit on applicants. …