Beat Ageism and Make Ageing Cool
55 Redefined recognises that the world has been guilty of pigeon-holing and miscategorising millions of people over 55.
Originally appeared on Cooper Parry news on 13 October 2021. By Steve Noss.
In 2019, a then 41-year-old Lyndsey Simpson exited the Curve Group, a business she’d helped to build. A few months later, a significant sum of money landed in her bank account. Wa-hay! Feet-up time. For some, maybe, but not Lyndsey. Rather than relaxing, she launched another company. Her new business, 55/Redefined, has turned into something bigger than even she bargained for. What began as a simple observation that there was an untapped talent pool amongst the over 55s, led to Lyndsey spotting more widespread ageism. She began noticing key challenges that this age group was facing such as accessing mortgages (even if they were quite wealthy), the unappealing images of ageing used and people being spoken to like they already had one foot in the grave. She began to question… Where’s the adventure? Where’s the opportunity? Where is being empowered by the fact that you’ve reached a point where you know yourself better than ever, having broken free of the shackles of doubt and are more confident than ever and have experience in bucket loads? This was the start of Lyndsey’s initial idea blossoming into something more impactful and intriguing that has since gone on to be an agent of social change.
“55/Redefined is for aspirational, affluent over-55s,” says Lyndsey. “It’s a membership platform and board concierge service, but it’s unique because it treats over-55s as the active, dynamic people that they really are. Traditionally, businesses – and society generally for that matter – has talked down to over-55s as if their best years are behind them. But that’s ridiculous, especially now. Today, over-55s are more active than ever; they’re creating jobs, buying cars, going on holidays and living their best lives. What they’re not doing is installing stairlifts, hiding away eating ready-meals in bungalows, or planning their funerals. But judging by the way they’re treated, you’d think most were virtually at death’s door.”
So, Lyndsey wants to change how the market – and wider society – thinks about over-55s. These people are not past their prime but enjoying the most exciting, dynamic time of their lives. They are knowledgeable, decisive, empowered and healthy, with decades ahead of them. What’s more, they are blessed with more disposable income than any other group.
55/REDEFINED RECOGNISES THAT THE WORLD HAS BEEN GUILTY OF PIGEONHOLING AND MISCATEGORISING MILLIONS OF PEOPLE 55 AND OVER
“We’re counteracting that by giving over-55s the lifestyle inspiration, the legal and financial tools, and the jobs they really want. We’re here to break the mould and knock down stereotypes. Our holidays, for example, will bring our members options like the best restaurants with rooms, the most exquisite hotels with private cinemas, or the most incredible wilderness trips. We’ll offer interesting, exciting travel experiences rather than identikit cruises or dour British walking tours.” Lyndsey says.
However, it’s the jobs market that Lyndsey thinks she can shake up fastest and hardest. 55/Redefined recently surveyed more than 250 employees and employers and found that more than 65% of over-55s want to work beyond age 65, yet most employers continue to force retirement at state age or earlier. Part of the reason could be HR departments: a mere 24% of HRs aged 25-30 are “very motivated” to hire over-55s. 55/Redefined’s study also shows that many older people want to change jobs, usually because they’re bored, but often can’t and therefore quit. Lyndsey argues that employers are effectively binning gold by letting these experienced, motivated over-55s slip through their fingers.
So, as is her style, she’s doing something to fix this wanton wastefulness. “We’re creating new ways of working,” she says. “For example, we’re partnering banks to create over-55 apprenticeship schemes. We’re convincing gym chains to hire older personal trainers. And we’re working with professional services firms to hire ‘returners’ – retired accountants, tax advisors and M&A specialists who come back to work for two or three months a year.”
Not simply content with only disrupting traditional working practices, Lyndsey and the 55/Redefined team want to shake up the legal industry, too. She explains: “In corporate life, we have commercial lawyers who do everything for their clients from contract law to EIS schemes. Yet in our personal lives, we have different lawyers for wills, mortgages, divorces… you name it. You buy your service, say goodbye and never speak again.”
Therefore, 55/Redefined is working with law firm Slater and Gordon to create a holistic, whole-of-life personal legal service to cover everything from estate planning to helping grandkids with school fees in the most tax-efficient way to divorce. Such a move, if marketed correctly, could send ripples of change through a staid legal industry.
OVER-55S ARE THE HIGHEST SPENDERS ONLINE, ARE CASH AND ASSET RICH, AND ARE HEALTHIER THAN EVER.
Unsurprisingly, investors have been quick to back Lyndsey, and not just because 55/Redefined has first-mover advantage in the UK’s market of more than 17m over-55s. She raised £350,000 in January 2021, another £400,000 in August and is plotting a Series A raise next year. “We have two groups of investors,” says Lyndsey. “First, we have over-55s who are saying: ‘At last, we have a business that’s on my side and talking to me like I want to be spoken to.’ Rosaleen Blair CBE is one of them. Second, we have more financially motivated investors. They realise that over-55s are the highest spenders online, are cash and asset rich, and are healthier than ever.”
In 55/Redefined, Lyndsey is creating a business with massive potential. She and her team recognise that over-55s are living longer, have more money than ever and are keen to spend it, yet for some reason, a large part of society still writes them off as bus-pass-touting has-beens. This represents a commercial opportunity but also shows that we have an ageism problem in the UK and the West generally. As a result, 55/Redefined has before it not one but two open goals: millions of under-served older people and the badge of being anti-ageism campaigners (with all the team motivation and powerful PR that provides). Therefore, it’s hard to escape the idea that 55/Redefined has an exhilarating future. If Lyndsey ever did consider putting her feet up after her previous business adventure, she can certainly forget about it for a while now.