Given that very few young people are actively saving towards retirement, a very bleak future could well await them. This sobering reality is the catalyst for a new awareness initiative from Sanlam entitled, 'Save Your Future'. Intending to spur South Africans aged 20 to 35 years into taking ownership of their futures, the initiative highlights the necessity of saving enough money to thrive in 2050 and beyond.
Viresh Maharaj (27), Group Risk Actuary for Sanlam Employee Benefits says, "The situation is highly concerning as most young adults do not have retirement in their sights until it is far too late to start making a real difference. As an established financial institution with a responsibility towards South Africans' futures, we are fully aware that long-term planning is not high on the priority list of young people and so have launched the 'Save Your Future' campaign to address the situation and change the way young people see the future."
Sanlam has created a virtual world set in 2050 in which two of South Africa's most popular celebrities - globetrotter Jeannie D and R'nB superstar Loyiso Bala - both aged by 40 years with the help of make-up and special effects, go about their day-to-day lives on Facebook. But their lives have a number of significant differences in 2050: they are faced with extreme climate change, critical resource shortages, over-population and medical and technological breakthroughs. The elderly pair is also confronted with expenses they hadn't anticipated in their youth: stem cell research for fractured hips, skyburb living to escape the over-crowding in down-town city centres and trips aboard Virgin Galactic to see loved-ones when their 4D hologram unit is broken at home.
"Using an interactive platform such as Facebook we hope to engage followers. Where the intrigue comes in that one of the celebrities planned adequately for their retirement during their heyday while the other didn't and is feeling the pinch. We hope by doing so, followers will get a real taste of what could come their way in 2050 - good and bad," says Maharaj.
And, while some may think 2050 sounds light years away, in just 40 years South Africa can expect to see radical shifts in its infrastructure, development, education and health standards and global compliance with both living green and blue - all of which will have a significant impact on the individual's wallet, particularly the elderly person who hadn't planned adequately towards their retirement while they still were employed, agile and able to make a difference.
Professor Andre Roux, Director of the Institute for Futures Research says, "Climate change and rising sea levels are likely to alter the slope of our coastlines, necessitating relocation. Technology is already changing the world of work. In 40 year's time what we now call the ‘informal sector' might be the rule, not the exception.
And as we already observe in parts of Europe, ‘old age' is becoming a third phase in life - possibly for as long as three decades. Planning for these very real possibilities is no longer an incidental nice-to-have; it should be seen as an imperative, a life-or-death necessity.
The initiative's roots lie in the findings from the annual Sanlam Benchmark Survey, which found that survival alone is the priority among today's pensioners as one in four say they cannot live on their savings and more than a third cannot afford any of their medical expenses.
"Too many pensioners today are living a sobering reality that is tainted by a lack of financial planning when they were young. So, unless young adults start actively doing something about their futures, they could end up in a similar fate where they don't have enough money to buy food, afford medical bills, see friends and family or even stay in-touch with the world around them - all while grappling with an ever-changing world that will no doubt put additional pressure on day-to-day expenses and living for young and old," concludes Maharaj.
To follow the campaign on Facebook visit: www.saveyourfuture.co.za.
Sanlam are also involved in another ‘young' campaign where users can pose questions and have these questions answered by a team either via a video or a blog post or Twitter.
Smartaboutwhat.co.za is just another way Sanlam are trying to reach out to the youth market because it's never too late or too early to start planning for your financial future.