I never got on with those synthetic advisers, not since one of them advised my wife to switch her life-mate to a wealthier model to achieve her financial ambitions. So I have a call set up to talk with La Fayette, an adviser based in Dubai who came highly recommended.
I explain to La Fayette that I am thinking of hanging up my horse in 2029, stopping work for Woolworths, the firm that disappeared from UK high streets in 2009 but came back to dominate many aspects of the global home retail market as we know it today.
La Fayette asks me a range of questions, the answers to which are seamlessly uploaded to a new advisory software tool he is prototyping.
I reveal that I plan to retire to Burma, a very popular destination since the establishment of the Utopian Eco-Lodges for the over 60s, but with complex entry requirements.
It involves the establishment of a New Citizenship Bond which I pay into for three years and has to be underwritten (so my ‘life-mate’ and our two children can benefit in the event of an early demise before the age of 110 – more on that in a moment).
The application process for this is apparently immediate. There are two insurance companies specialising in this kind of thing: Aviva-Instagram and Sugar Insurance Enterprises (the firm set up by that precocious Apprentice wanabee, 2017).
All I have to do is get my personal Life-kit to talk to the new advisory software and it downloads my life preferences, real-time health status and financial records to draw up an application for me to sign (well give voice recognition acceptance to, actually) and the premium is taken automatically.
I particularly like the retirement solution that is recommended. I can determine my own product based on my particular whims and preferences.
- Do I want it tax optimised for drawing benefits in Burma? Hell, yes. If it’s not written in an Aung San Suu Kyi trust apparently we’ll never be able to enjoy that costly eco-tourism we promised ourselves. And just in case I return to the UK, can I have it optimised for there too? Under a Green Party government, taxes have risen.
- Do I want cover for my daughter’s burgeoning interest in deep-sea pharmaceutical research? Of course.
- Do I want the performance linked to an index for the price of Francium, that most precious of elements now we know it has life extending properties? Naturally.
- Do I want to pay in Bit-Currency, the currency for mobile executives like me, who built up assets in so many countries it was best embrace them all? Absolutely.
Life has changed so much when you look back. Some of my friends still hark back with affection to the early days of the century when life companies and advisers employed executives with what feels now like pudding basin haircuts and quill pens to sign up customers into one-size-fits-all offerings:
- Can I know if the solution you are recommending actually works from a fiscal perspective if I want to go and live in a country of my choice? No. You have to have the same as everyone else. Go and speak to a tax adviser.
- Can I pay in for three years because that meets my personal time horizon? No. You have to pay for 5 years minimum but we prefer longer.
- Can I get the contract completed today as I’d like to move to Burma tomorrow (governmental acceptance is instantaneous too)? No, you have to fill in this ream of paper, which I will send to the Isle of Man by courier. It’ll arrive in under a week and then you have to attend a medical and undergo a series of tests to which we’ll get the answer to a few days later. Then you can send us the money and our new business department will have it sorted in a jiffy. A two weeks or more sort of jiffy, actually.
How we chuckled.
A final word from Philip Cernik, Chief Marketing Officer, Friends Provident International
So that was Bill’s story. It all makes me think of those award winning TV ads of the last century featuring cute little aliens with robotic voices who look down on planet Earth and collapse in fits of laughter because indiscriminate humans are preparing mashed potato using real potatoes instead of Smash. Such visions of a future international life industry are really not that far away in reality. With investment, there is little to stop fore-sighted companies building a customer experience that really focuses on customer needs, treating people as individuals and providing them with what they require in a timely fashion. It’s out there now and someone is going to make it happen.