It’s official: humans have nine lives too

Cat on a desk

A report which was just published by life insurance experts LifeSearch has confirmed something that I have long suspected: people have nine lives too.

The findings

The LifeSearch report, which was run in conjunction with CensusWide*, found that:

On average, British people will “reinvent” themselves nine times over the course of their adult lives, expecting at least eight life-changing events. These include two periods of serious ill health, a divorce, a redundancy, two career changes, the birth of a child, and even the death of a partner.

The report also finds that these major life changes lead to significant financial instability for half of the population and that people (and particularly women) aren’t taking steps to protect themselves or their loved ones in the face of life’s twists and turns.

Finally, there’s a generational finding or two where one in four Millennials/Gen Z’s have already been made redundant, one in three have changed careers, and one in four have been through a divorce.

What does this mean for your personal finances?

As you’d expect, there’s a difference between these events taking place and people allowing for them in their financial planning. LifeSearch focuses on providing life cover for people, but the broader financial planning into savings, pensions and other areas are of huge importance to individuals too.

This time lag between the life event and changing our financial planning strategies is one that we need to reduce if we want to mitigate the risks that arise. Worryingly, the report finds that one in five women still leave all financial planning to their partner. For those of us in charge of our own finances, that may seem like a foreign concept – but it’s clearly a challenge from the past (see WASPIs article) and the present.

What does it mean for you as an employer?

Well, that is a good question. Whilst people sometimes do take care of their finances and they do take out life cover, do organisations plan for these nine lives?

There’s been a huge focus on the ‘future of work’ over the past couple of years – on agile and remote working, on flexible working patterns and the like. But has there been as large a focus on planning for these life-changing events into your organisation?

My take on it

“My sense is that organisations need to take a step back from the day job sometimes and think about these broader macro themes and then stress test their existing thinking in light of them. Can they cater for long-term illness? How will a changing workforce affect their pensions provision?

“For a long time, I have been a believer that the traditional three ages (student, work, retirement) and no longer applicable. People study throughout their lives now. People take breaks from work to travel, look after loved ones, have a family or a whole host of other reasons. I’ve done it myself.

“What’s more, they say that 70 is the new 50: people are living longer and are much more active in later life than they were even only 30 or 40 years ago. Some people will never fully retire as they see a blended life of study/work/rest suits them better.

“So, to have this report confirm the new life-changing events and consider the implications for us as individuals as well as employers is fantastic.”



*This research was conducted in December 2019 by CensusWide on behalf of LifeSearch. This was an online poll of 2,002 adults aged over 18 and is a nationally representative spread.