“If you are a pension fund trying to get a 6.7 percent return, there is a technical word for it,” financial writer John Mauldin told attendees at the Inside ETFs conference earlier this week. “You’re screwed.”
Financial advisors who can deliver clients returns of 5 or 6 percent over the next decade without taking absurd risks will eventually be rewarded by their clients. “Half of you won’t be in this business in a company that looks anything like the one you are in today,” Mauldin predicted. “Past performance will be based on fundamentals that no longer matter.”
As the pace of change in technology, health care and everyday life accelerates over the next decade, financial advisors and their clients will be compelled to adapt to a different world or suffer the consequences. While the opportunities in growth areas like nanotechnology, robotics, health care and automation will be far-reaching, Mauldin said, the number of industries and people displaced will rock modern society.
Just examine what longer longevity means for the insurance and asset management industries. Insurance companies focused on life insurance will benefit as policy liabilities get deferred into the future, while long-tailed liabilities like pensions and annuities will leave companies overweight in these areas scrambling for relief, in Mauldin’s view.
“The world will be divided into doers and thinkers,” he predicted, adding that this was relatively good news for advisors since they tend to be thinkers. “Doers won’t get paid very much.”
For the majority of people in developed nations, economic change could be threatening. Mauldin cited one study predicting that as many as 15 million workers in the U.K. and 75 million in the U.S. could lose their jobs. Signs of future problems are already surfacing, as evidenced by the growing number of white men in their 40s and 50s suddenly dying from drugs, alcohol and suicide.
“Thinkers will have to create new jobs and new industries but it will be an uncomfortable transition,” he said. “There will be a lot of angry white men and a lot of angry black men and white women and black women.”
With so many people being displaced, one can expect higher taxes, including a consumption tax. There will be a race “between how much wealth people can create and how much the government can destroy,” Mauldin declared. “It will be a close race.”
On a more positive note, Mauldin said that within a decade Iran will become one of America's best friends as the young people take over and the mullahs depart the scene.
- Evan Simonoff, Financial Advisor Magazine