Ahead of their time: what the next generation has in store

Jamie Jenkins

I’m sure like many parents having their first child, he has provided us with an entirely fresh perspective on life.

Becoming a dad at 46 wasn’t something I ever thought would happen. But it did. And it’s wonderful.

Arlo William Daniel Jenkins pitched up on 18 December, 5 days ahead of schedule. He’s healthy and happy and we are very lucky parents.

We’re exhausted, of course, but that seems to be the rule in the first few weeks. More so than I ever expected. Either I wasn’t listening properly when people told me about their early days with their children or – more likely – people have just blocked it out as if the sleep deprivation were some sort of trauma that they never want to relive.

Either way, no matter how challenging it is at times, he only has to smile to make the world ok again.

I’m sure like many parents having their first child, he has provided us with an entirely fresh perspective on life. Quite apart from anything else, you refocus much of your attention on your child’s future rather than your own.

His future is fascinating. The rate at which technology is changing is staggering and it seems inconceivable that his adult life will look anything like the one experienced by the generation before, let alone Generation X, into which I was born.

A friend mentioned to me that his daughter – who’s 17 – sat her driving test in December. She failed it, but quickly resat it in January. During the intervening period, the DVLA introduced an element of the test monitoring the driver using a sat nav. Makes perfect sense. If anything, that could have appeared years ago as so many modern cars have sat nav fitted as standard now.

Looking ahead

When I fast forward 17 years to the time when Arlo may choose to sit his driving test, the chances are diesel cars will have gone, perhaps petrol, too. Gearsticks will likely be a distant memory and most cars will simply brake when they need to, entirely unprompted by the driver. Maybe even drivers themselves will be a thing of the past, and he won’t need to sit a test at all.

In terms of his finances, undoubtedly many things will change there, too. I can’t imagine many people will be demanding over-the-counter services in bank branches, cashing cheques or even carrying cash. Currency may well have gone truly crypto.

But some things almost certainly won’t change.

I seriously doubt the need to save will have diminished. I can’t see a future where the State provides a luxurious pension in the absence of any private saving at all.

And his birthday, 18 December, was also the day that the Government’s review of automatic enrolment was published.

In its first 5 years, automatic enrolment has been transformative in bringing people in to pension saving. Around 1 million employers have now set up pension schemes and they have enrolled nearly 10 million employees. Over the course of this year and next, contribution levels will go up from 2% of earnings to a total of 8% of earnings.

I was privileged to have an independent role on the review, chairing the work on improving coverage among employees but also looking at comparable solutions for the growing number of self-employed people in the UK. We laid out some plans to improve things over the coming years, once we get people saving at a more adequate level.

I was firmly on press duty that day, or at least that was the plan until wee Arlo decided to show face.

Saving will become the new normal

So Arlo will come of age at a time when workplace pensions are a social norm (again!), and he will likely be enrolled in one whatever he does and whoever he works for, even if that’s himself as his own boss. He’ll have a pretty good chance of achieving a sizeable sum of money in retirement, even if just by working four or five decades. All things being equal, he’ll face the big decisions as to what to do with his money in retirement and how to make it last.

With a bit of luck, and some decent parental education, he’ll embrace the concept of saving among peers who do the same, and he’ll be well prepared for those decisions when they arrive.

Hopefully, whatever else happens in the world, his pension will be sorted.

The views expressed here are those of the author, not Standard Life.

Your pension is an investment – its value can go down or up and may be worth less than what was paid in. This article shouldn’t be taken as financial advice and is based on our understanding in April 2018.