Happy days

Have you noticed how the news is always negative, gloomy, alarmist, frightening and worrying?

But in spite of the constant diet of bad news by the media, to quote former prime minister Harold MacMillan, “We’ve never had it so good”. Why do I believe this?

During my lifetime, I have seen our living standards increase dramatically. Material wealth has increased substantially. Two-thirds of the population own their own homes. Most adults own a car and electronic goods are cheap and commonplace these days.

The amount of leisure time has increased a lot for most people, as people now enjoy much shorter working days and most get paid holidays.
People are living healthier lives and many diseases which previously killed people now have cures.

Longevity has improved significantly. Twenty years ago, life expectancy of men was 73 and women 79. Today, it is 78 and 82 . Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions predict that 10 million people alive today in the UK will live to 100.

I think things are going to get better and better. Living standards will improve, leisure time will increase, health will improve and longevity will increase.
Our lives will improve significantly in a number of keys areas such as the five identified by futurologist Richard Watson in his book Future Files. These are ageing, power shift eastwards, global connectivity, Grin technologies (genetics, robotics, internet and nanotechnology) and the environment. This book is a fascinating read.

We are already beginning to see a number of these trends emerging. The most striking trend is that of the internet.

A number of retailers are struggling, going bust completely or going into administration.

The old-fashioned model of shops is quickly being overtaken by the internet, particularly due to the faster connections enabled by broadband, where goods and services can often be bought cheaper, quicker and in the comfort of your own home or business.

What implications does all this have for financial advisers? This means having a good website, internet marketing including email broadcasting and social media, using mobile devices, holding online meetings and so on.

Embrace these changes and really go for it. Remember the future’s bright, the future’s broadband.

Tony Byrne is financial planning director at Wealth And Tax Management