Aging and Financial Inclusion: an Opportunity

This report presents the findings of the joint project on aging and financial inclusion from the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) and HelpAge International with support from the MetLife Foundation. The project was prompted by the demographic review carried out as part of CFI’s Financial Inclusion 2020 project, which drew attention to the rapidly aging global population and to the immediate challenges aging poses, particularly in middle income countries. CFI joined forces with HelpAge because of HelpAge’s deep knowledge about global aging issues. We intend for this project to be useful for those who work on the issue of aging, for financial services providers, for policymakers and other government stakeholders, and for support organizations.

The purpose of this report is to highlight the barriers and opportunities related to financial services in older age and throughout the aging process, a relatively neglected area of study. The report draws on literature from across the globe, but largely focuses on middle income countries, in particular Latin America, and includes a spotlight on Colombia. The report incorporates information gathered from two direct sources: first, an online poll of experts from the financial services sector and second, focus group research with older people in Colombia. The Colombia spotlight illustrates many of the points made in the main body of the report. It also provides a consumer perspective, especially from lower income people, on the extent to which older people in Colombia currently interact with formal financial services and know about the services on offer. While the Colombia case study contributes important insights to this debate, it is important to remember that every context is different.

This report charges policymakers and providers to consider older people as an increasingly important market segment whose needs are differentiated from those of younger adults. It suggests that, in keeping with advocacy that HelpAge has carried out for many years, social pensions can and should provide an essential floor for income during later life. Yet it recognizes that nearly all older people will need to put in place varied income strategies for themselves beyond pensions, and for that private financial services are an essential part of the solution.

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