Getting older is such a mixed bag. On the one hand we are wiser, more experienced, and more confident. Unfortunately, we also experience an inevitable decline in fluid intelligence, and it becomes ever more effort (with diminishing returns) to understand and apply new technologies, products and services.

Assess Money Management Abilities

As we age, various skills and abilities we previously took for granted may decline quite rapidly or suddenly. A 2009 study breaks down the financial skills which can decline with age:

Basic money skillsIdentify and understand relative value of notes and coins
Cash transactionsAssess cost of an item and understand sales receipts
Chequebook managementKnow when and how to use a cheque
Bill paymentUnderstand how to read, pay and dispute bills
Bank statement managementFind deposits, withdrawals, and balances in a bank statement
Asset and estate managementIdentify assets and income
Knowledge of financial conceptsUnderstand concepts like debt, insurance, and asset returns
Financial judgmentDetect fraud and other risks or assess what an asset is worth

These already seem dated, in a world where chequebook management has been replaced by internet banking, and cash transactions are rapidly being replaced by EFTPOS, Applepay, and PayPal — This shows the increasing challenges for personal financial management as the pace of technological change increases. The key point though, is that some abilities may decline while others do not, and that the impacts will vary between individuals.

How Old is too Old?

Obviously, the real answer is “when the abilities in the list above start to fail”. Vigilance is important – for yourself, and for your loved ones. It’s better to begin conversations about transitioning financial management before any confusion or cognitive decline makes discussion itself more difficult. There’s no easy time to begin this conversation, whichever side of it you find yourself on, but as Carolyn from Aging Investor writes, “it’s not too early right now”.

Automate to Simplify

At Bill Butler, we like automation. Prior to a transition of financial management (either from your parents, or to your children) is an excellent time to prioritise automating. Imagine the simplicity of your butler handling the financial details before the transition: instead of having to hand over tens of contact numbers and website URLs and points of contact, you could simply arrange a follow-up chat including the appropriate family members with your cash management specialist – the only point of contact needed!


stephensJay Stephens – Lead Thought Provoker
Jay began his career in London with Rabobank, CLS bank and a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. Jay’s work has spanned corporate communications, content editing, newspaper articles, courseware, blogging, policy drafting, technical writing, and a regular crossword. He is passionate about 8-bit tunes, self-improvement, and the Oxford comma.