Barbadians are living longer, going on to a period equal to about half of their working life, after they have left the job – and an income is needed for this period.
This stark reality of the financial implications of the ageing society that the island’s population has become was brought home last night by CIBC First Caribbean head of country operations and managing director Donna Wellington, when she stressed the need to save and invest long before getting to the middle age of 35.
“If you retire at 65 and you expire at 90, that’s a whole other lifetime past your retirement age, that would need to be funded,” she said at the fourth annual panel discussion on women’s and family health, organised by the Caribbean Gynecological Endoscopic Services – CariGES For Women – at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
The financial advisor added: “And if you think about what NIS will do for you, it’s not going to go very far. And folks in my age group wonder if when we get to retirement if it will be there at all.”
Musing on whether high breadfruit and yam consumption was responsible for Barbados having a high centenarian and general aged population, she noted the unique demographics.
“When I look at where we [CIBC First Caribbean] operate in the Caribbean in 17 English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean territories, Barbados has a strange demographic compared to everybody else . . . . I don’t know what it is, but we tend to live longer.”
Wellington was among four other panellists: president of Men’s Educational Support Association, Ralph Boyce; and senior minister of the House of Freedom, Reverend Ferdinand Nicholls; and UWI lecturers Dr Deanne Ford, and Dr Cheryl Alexis.
Her given topic was Meeting Turn or Investment.
The banker made clear the differences between the traditional savings vehicle and formal involvement with the financial sector.
“A meeting turn is basically a vehicle for savings. How you choose to save is purely your choice, and if one has a meeting turn and spends the entire meeting turn on things that aren’t lasting, or there is no savings on that meeting turn, there can be no investment.”
She went on to point out challenges to savings: “Especially in this economic climate, savings is usually the first thing to go when people think about what they need to do for their life and their various stages of life.
“Savings are important for stage-of -life expenses, and depending on where you are in your life. There is marriage children, cars, schools, education, and more importantly nowadays looking towards pension and your retirement plan.”
Emphasizing the importance of young people saving from the time they begin to earn an income, she said that the shore-up reserve took on a new meaning with age.
“Around middle age, you really have to start thinking about retirement and what you’re doing to save towards retirement . . . . And middle age starts at 35 for those who may be thinking otherwise,” she said.