Planning for our golden years

Having achieved her share of the limelight, a leading advocate of personal finance is returning back to the books to make life better for our elderly community.

Over the last 13 years, Carol Yip has been prominently enlightening our society on personal financial education and sustainable retirement for Malaysians. Whether she’s donning the hat of a speaker, advisor, coach or columnist, the certified financial planner always exudes enthusiasm in all that she preaches.

Carol Yip-mar2015-01 In addition to having scribed countless articles and shared her views on leading print publications, digital media and broadcast channels both within the country and abroad, Yip has contributed significantly to the national cause through community projects and workshops with government institutions like Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency, Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia, Institution of Banks Malaysia, Federation of Investment Managers Malaysia, and Financial Planning Association of Malaysia.

It is this unmistakeable passion, particularly on the subject of sustainable retirement that has made her a recognisable advocate in the financial fraternity, culminating with speaking engagements over the years at numerous international conferences across Asia Pacific, Australia and United States.

“Sustainable retirement is when you have sufficient funds to sustain your retirement lifestyle and aged care needs according to old age conditions for as long as possible, independent from relying on others,” Yip remarks.

She points out that currently in Malaysia, the care needed by older people is delivered formally or informally by government welfare homes, private nursing homes, day-care centres, voluntary aged care centres and by families at home.

“With a mix of services delivered by different agencies, each payment option has potentially a different funding base. Regardless of the payment options available, it will be challenging for elderlies to have sufficient money to pay for their long-term care needs for as long as possible because their needs can intensify as they age further. The cost of care will increase if both care needs increase in intensity and inflation of medical costs continues,” says Yip.

Yet despite all that she has achieved in her field of work, the MBA graduate from University of Hull, United Kingdom is turning back to the academic hallways to elevate her proficiency even further, with hope of playing a role to improve the country’s healthcare services.

“Based on the current situation where the existing system of health care services is fragmented, the development of Malaysia in terms of this area is that while the higher income populace can pay for health care needs, it is the middle to lower income population that have more reasons to be concerned, since they have to pay for these services on their own,” says Yip, who also holds a Master’s degree in counselling and a bachelor’s degree in economics attained from Monash University, Melbourne.

Carol_BrogaSpurred on by this desire to increase her knowledge on the field of long term care for elderly Malaysians, she proceeded to undertake a PhD research programme back in 2013 and expects to complete it by next year.

“My research aims to find out the actual level of long-term care needed by elderly people living in nursing homes, care centres and at home, and whether these people are appropriately placed according to their care needs,” she says. 

Through her education and personal financial planning background, Yip was able to gain a better understanding of behavioural finance, the human psychology, and how people live through different life stages. 

“When there is appropriate placement of elderly people according to their level of care needed and is based on the minimum standards required by the regulators, financial resources will be utilised optimally. It is likely elderly people will be happier with the care services and support given to them, while simultaneously, they or the family members are able to financially sustain the care services needed.

“Therefore, having enough money during retirement to pay for aged care is an important component of personal financial planning, which is the toughest part of the plan because of many unpredictable variables,” explains the author of four personal finance and behavioural finance books — Smart Money-User, Money Rules, Credit Card Syndrome and Money Work Life. Money Rules – which are all available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, while the last two are also translated into Thai.

Malaysia as a preferred retirement destination

In between burning the midnight oil and flipping through endless journals and research materials, she currently serves as the chief executive officer of Aged Care Group Sdn Bhd (ACG), an organisation conceptualised to innovate and transform the perception of aging. 

Explaining further about ACG, Yip says: “The role of ACG is to create a paradigm shift in which the handling of aged care becomes a community effort where the infrastructure of human resources, development, medicine, law and policies come together smoothly as oppose to an individual effort.” 

ACG’s aim is to be the centre for continuum care to provide enriched living to the elderly community in order to raise the quality of life and set the stage for an improved standard of aged living where Malaysia would be set to be amongst the top ideal places for retirement.

Amongst the services currently active is its Circles Enrich Living Programme where they aim to serve the full spectrum of aged care needs; a pilot version of this programme is already running in a community hospital just outside of Kuala Lumpur.

Another active initiative by the team is the web portal that aims to function as the platform for anything related to aged care, ranging from educating Malaysians on the lifestyles and issues that are constantly faced by elderlies to the providence of solutions and links to resources that can address those issues.

“We are also looking into the master planning of integrated residential care centres for elderly, providing services to serve the different level of care needs, and specialised care including stroke, dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s and other old age illnesses,” says Yip. 

Having organised the Malaysia’s Retirement Transformation Conference in 2010 and the Private Pension and Healthcare Conference the following year, as well as being a former facilitator for Pemandu’s Senior Living Lab discussion panel, Yip is well positioned to understand the challenges and recognises the need to transform the current care centres and nursing homes to a higher quality of care and living standards for the ageing population.

As for the resulting benefits from her PhD research thus far, she states that it has given her a sound understanding of elderly care in Malaysia and the opportunity to familiarise herself with the existing situation on aged care facilities.

It has not been exactly smooth sailing for financial planner as she explains: “My sample size is very large and with the lack of a directory listing of day care centres and nursing homes, I’ve had to physically search for these places making it difficult to obtain data and interview subjects, along with the uncertainty if the centres and homes that I’ve found were licensed.”

Undeterred, Yip continues on her quest to acquire more knowledge through this research programme she has embarked on. She reasons: “The combination of my experience and background coupled with the immediate welfare needs for the aged population of today and future aged care needs for the seniors of tomorrow, drove me to wade into the deep waters of these issues and challenges, and to find possible solutions for them.”


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