March 6, 2019 | By


A new Schwab survey shows advisors think increased longevity will have biggest business impact over next decade, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch is actively preparing clients for potential of living to 100.

If — as part of the population in general — 401k plan participants are going to be living longer on average moving forward, it stands to reason that advisors need to help them plan for that extra longevity.

Turns out, advisors think it could have a bigger impact than any other trends currently on the radar, according to the latest Independent Pulse survey (Feb. 2019) from Schwab Advisor Services.

“Longer client lifespans” (29%) topped “information privacy/data integrity” (27%) and “changing workplace dynamics” (25%) as the trend advisors expect to be most impactful to their firms over the next decade, followed by “Artificial Intelligence” (14%).

“The world in which advisors and their clients live is changing rapidly and the implications of these changes will ultimately manifest in how advisors evolve their firms to serve the changing needs of their clients,” said Bernie Clark, head of Schwab Advisor Services, in the Independent Pulse survey.


The latest Pulse study sought to understand the dynamics shaping the independent advice industry with the goal of shining a light on the opportunities and challenges facing RIAs.

The top trends, led by longer client lifespans, are expected to have broad ranging impact on firms, including implications for growth and operations, talent strategies, advice/services offered and portfolio management/asset allocation.

Advisors expect macro forces will impact clients’ risk management, timing and duration of working life/retirement, planning goals and spending patterns/priorities, according to key findings in the Pulse survey.

Longevity on Minds of Many Companies

Schwab isn’t the only company with an eye on longer lifespans and their potential business impact. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Wealth Management hired the industry’s first financial gerontologist back in 2014 to help its more than 14,000 financial advisors better understand the needs of their clients.

Research projects and in-depth studies eventually produced the framework of a resulting initiative — the 7 Life Priorities — designed to enhance retirement planning by focusing well beyond just financial health to encompass all seven major areas in which life priorities change in retirement: Family, work, health, home, giving, leisure, and finances.

The end goal was to be sure each client and their advisor could address the simple question: “Are You Fit to Live to 100?”


Advisors are encouraged to engage clients on the topics of aging, longevity, retirement, and life planning, and so far, so good: Per the HBR article, Merrill Lynch reports increased customer satisfaction, retention, and acquisition, and the benefits to their own employees and corporate culture around all dimensions of the new longevity—not just their financial health—are emphasized by the company.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch plans to increase the use of longevity products and make planning for longevity easier for all clients and employees.

Read the entire article by Brian Anderson at 401K Specialist.

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