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Financing the 100-Year Life: Insights from Bruno, 80, Italy
Bruno working at his desk.

May 2024 – Interview by Federica Madonna

Theme: Money

Financing the 100-Year Life:
Insights from Bruno, 80, Italy

Planning for retirement at any stage of life can be daunting, but what about the possibility of funding a 100-year life becoming the new norm? In our series of conversations with people from around the world, we sat down with Bruno, an 80-year-old still working in Milan. Together, we explored how the prospect of living longer is reshaping financial planning, not just for him and his generations, but for future generations as well. Join us as we hear Bruno’s unique perspective on financing a longer and more fulfilling life, and discover his innovative ideas for navigating this new reality. 

Bruno celebrates an important milestone with his family.

TCL. How confident are you that you will have enough money for a 100 year life? 

Bruno. I live on my pension, and I consider myself lucky because it is more than enough to meet my needs and those of my wife, who is the same age as me. Throughout our working lives, we have always made sure to build a strong financial foundation to cover the needs of both the family and life’s unexpected turns. To date, I can say that our quality of life is high and that in general in everyday life we have fewer spending needs than we could have had in the past, except for expenses for health problems that we have faced, and are facing.   

So, if our condition remains as it is and there are no external disruptions inflation, wars, economic changesI feel confident about our financial condition in the years to come. Although I’m not sure I want to live to be 100 years old! 

"I'm an octogenarian who still works, but for pleasure!"

TCL. Do you see yourself needing to work well into your 70s, 80s, or beyond just to make ends meet as you get older? Do you think that younger generations will have to work longer?  

I’m an octogenarian who still works, but for pleasure!  

After graduating, I immediately started working in a company while also taking evening classes at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University. I worked for the same company for almost 40 years, ultimately as CFO (Chief Finance Officer). Alongside work, I have always been passionate about computer science and innovation. After retirement, I decided to use my experiences and passions to become a consultant. Today I am still active and still tapping into my curiosity in computer programming.  

The day of the Graduation in Economics and Business.

When it comes to the younger generations, it is difficult to make a prediction. Currently, in Italy, the retirement age hovers around 67 years but the world of work is undergoing profound transformation. The needs of the new generations have changed, influencing their career choices and the desire for sustained employment. 

In my view, it’s advisable for young individuals to commence their careers before turning 30. This approach can help ease the strain of working until 70, particularly if the job is physically demanding rather than mentally stimulating. 

"Some don't have a pension at all, while others find that their pension isn't enough to cover their daily expenses, particularly healthcare-related costs."

TCL. What is the biggest financial challenge for you right now? Do you think it is to do with your age?  

Bruno. I don’t currently face any significant financial challenges, I’ve certainly encountered my fair share in the past. Today, I feel much calmer about my finances. My wife and I have noticed a decrease in our spending over the last couple of years. 

For instance, I realised that I wasn’t using my car as much as before, and the costs associated with it—insurance, garage fees, maintenance—were outweighing the benefits. So, I made the decision to sell the car. Not only did this result in significant savings, but it also made us more environmentally sustainable. Plus, we’ve found alternative ways to get around that are more convenient for us 

However, I consider myself privileged from this point of view. Now, I recognise that I’m fortunate to be in this position. I’m aware that many people in Italy are facing financial challenges, especially when it comes to pensions. Some don’t have a pension at all, while others find that their pension isn’t enough to cover their daily expenses, particularly healthcare-related costs. It’s a concerning issue that needs attention and solutions. 

Bruno's passion for horse riding.

TCL. Some people say that older generations/ people had financial advantages, leaving their children and the next generation facing greater challenges? Do you agree?  

 I don’t think the older generations have benefited financially. I think a lot depends on the social and cultural context in which you grew up as well as the prevailing economic environment. I think that each individual’s financial journey is unique and shaped by various factors. Looking back to the 60s and 70s, there seemed to be more of a focus on long-term planning, both in life and financially. Employment was often secure with open-ended contracts, and people tended to stay with one or two employers throughout their careers, securing their pensions along the way. 

However, over the past two decades, we’ve seen significant shifts. The market has become increasingly globalised, leading to changes in Italy’s socio-economic landscape. Employment contracts have evolved dramatically, with precariousness becoming more common. Younger workers now prioritise a “work to live” mindset over the traditional “live to work” approach. 

Given these changes, there’s a need for new innovations in work and the economic system. Perhaps we should consider innovative models where workers have a stake in the organisations they’re part of? This could help adapt to the evolving needs of the workforce and ensure financial security. 

"And if we are thinking about living to 100 years and beyond, we must ask ourselves how we want to get there, how do we want to reach that age and in what physical and mental health conditions."

TCL. Given a 100 year life has never been lived before for so many, do our financial models need to radically change?  if so, how?  

 Bruno. While I may not have direct solutions at hand, I do have several reflections on this question. Firstly, I believe it’s important to reconsider the overall quality of life in our society, particularly as life expectancy continues to rise. And if we are thinking about living to 100 years and beyond, we must ask ourselves how we want to get there, how do we want to reach that age and in what physical and mental health conditions. 

Bruno holding his first daughter in 1970

His first daughter in 1970.

We’re at a key moment where we need to address these questions to rethink a new longevity and respond to a social and demographic need that is happening for the first time in history. Longevity is everyone’s issue and therefore it is necessary to create opportunities to design a different future, perhaps through a participation not only from governments, but also to companies and the citizens for creating the best cultural and then socio-economic conditions to live longer and better.  This involves not only government initiatives but also engagement from companies and citizens to create the cultural and socio-economic conditions for longer, healthier lives. 

Participation, I believe, will be key in shaping this future. For instance, rethinking the structural distribution of income could significantly impact the world of work and beyond. As Alessandro Manzoni once said, “To posterity the arduous sentence.”  

More Information

More about Bruno

Born in the province of Piacenza in 1944, Bruno grew up in Milan. He studied accounting and graduated in Economics from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan. Married with two daughters and a grandaughter.

Bruno says he is an atypical retiree at 80, remaining active in his work. 

His passions include computer science and reading, with a particular interest in delving into the Middle Ages and exploring various translations and interpretations of Bible stories. 

Bruno is a member of Voice Italia. 

You can find out more about Voice Italia here.

You can find out more about Voice Global here.