America has an aging problem, Laurence D. Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, told students on November 19. Over the last five decades, he said, the average lifespan in the nation has increased from around 70 to near 80 and one-third of babies born in the United States today will live to 100. The country, Fink said, needs to spend more time planning for the financial implications of this growing elder class. “Otherwise,” he warned, “it’s going to become a very expensive part of our future.”
The event, which was part of the School’s Silfen Leadership Series and sponsored by the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy, drew a packed room of students. Fink implored them to speak out on the issue, which he said requires a serious, civil conversation between citizens young and old.
Among the possible remedies, Fink spoke of raising the retirement age and of instituting a savings plan similar to Australia’s, which in short order has accumulated more than $1.5 trillion with contributions from much of the country’s working population. Also, Fink advocated for people of all income levels to be educated on the best ways to invest for the future. For its part, BlackRock is helping to teach financial literacy around the nation. The company also created the CoRI Indexes, which are designed to aid anyone over the age of 55 in planning for retirement by identifying how much retirement income one’s current savings can provide.
Only two-thirds of American workers have put anything aside for old age, Fink said, and those that have likely haven’t invested it in the best way. This means more people have been forced to continue working longer, which leads to fewer jobs for young people and the stagnation of wages. “We have to change the narrative in Washington,” Fink urged, “to talk more about longevity.”