I hope I die before I get old

Whilst it is certainly a solution to inadequate pension provision, encouraging people to adopt a “rock and roll” lifestyle is not a message we wish to convey at SHARPEN. But the infamous line, penned by Pete Townsend and belted out by Roger Daltrey, does offer an interesting lesson in the world of pensions and communications.

Bear with me.

The Who’s “My Generation” is well know as an anthem for the disaffected youth. Its lyrics describe how it felt to be a teenager in the 1960s and the huge communications divide that existed between different generations.

“Why don’t you all fade away….and don't try to dig what we all say.”

A lesser-known fact about the song is that when Townsend wrote the “...die before I am old” line, he actually meant "very rich" not “old”.  I wonder how a 20-year-old Townsend would have viewed his 70-year-old future self.

So what’s the lesson?

If you’re lucky enough to belong to a pension scheme that has a website or produces communications that use images, you can be fairly certain that the pictures will include older adults enjoying a comfortable life in retirement, perhaps walking on the beach or lounging on the deck of their recently purchased boat. Image search “pensions” if you don’t believe me.

But is this the audience that we need to target? To have any chance of a comfortable, work-free retirement, planning needs to start, ideally, as soon as you start work in your late teens or early 20s. Late 20s and early 30s are key ages to save, as disposable income can be high. If you wait until your 40s, it may already be too late.

Whilst using pictures of wealthy pensioners is aspirational, it doesn’t speak to people in their teens, 20s, 30s or 40s. The generational and financial gaps are incredibly hard to bridge, as explained succinctly by Townsend et al.

At SHARPEN, we know that pensions are for everybody, regardless of their age. Communicating and engaging effectively with different age groups requires a variety of different approaches. We always take time to carefully consider our audience when designing the look and feel of communications, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

“I'm just talkin’ ‘bout my generation.”