The age of austerity is driven by the lower consumption of ‘stuff’.

The baby boomers were reared to be consumers. It was the baby boomers who began the acquisition of things and the must-buy consumer boom that is now such an ingrained part of our psyche.

However, the baby boomers are drawing nearer to retirement age and we must wonder how the upcoming generation of retirees will fund the lifestyle that they have become so used to?

In an environment of falling interest rates, money to live on will be front of mind, and we may very well see that ‘risky’ assets such as shares will end up having a lower weighting in portfolios, especially if we continue to see the volatility in world markets that now seem to be daily events. I feel that property and fixed interest allocations will play a more prominent role in the retiree’s basket of investments.

I wonder how many people actually know that it was the German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck who brought in the fixed retirement age of 65 in the year 1881. Back then, the average life expectancy was only 43 years of age.

What the over-65s will do in the coming decades if the working age is not increased is an interesting question. Maybe they will volunteer and work for the community.

In the future, there will need to be a trade off between the traditional model of work, incentive and consumption to more of a model that takes into account experience and passion for the work.

The traditional contract of a job for life no longer exists so people will need deep and specialist knowledge about an area rather than being a generalist.

Welcome to the world of future fragmentation.

As the cost of energy increases so too will transportation costs. Travelling long distances to work will be expensive and discouraged. Parking costs will be exorbitant in order to discourage people from making unnecessary trips into the city. More and more people will live on the fringe to enjoy lifestyle and will travel much shorter distances to work.

Anxieties about carbon and energy costs are casting a shadow over growth across the globe. If we embrace and get used to a low carbon world, we could live closer to our work, commute less and travel long distances as a last resort. Without doubt the cost of utilities will continue to rise and rise. Electricity, water and gas will simply cost more and more as the costs of extracting energy rise.

One way of aligning with higher energy costs will be to build office hubs around 10 kilometers from populated areas that will be connected by light transport. These hubs will be used by anyone who live in the vicinity and will also provide an opportunity for people to interact and work together in a collaborative environment. Offices will be open 24-hours a day in order to cater for different timezones and workstations will be temporary and flexible. In a physical location, we can form new networks, develop new skills, connections and competencies. Video conferencing facilities will be particularly popular and will offer global connections. Working from home will still take place but no one really likes to be seen in his or her pajamas.

As our time becomes more fragmented, it becomes more valuable. In the future, as no one will want to drive their motorcar long distances to the office, attention will be focused on how to spend more quality time with friends and family.

Technology will only serve to make our worlds more fragmented. Even now we live in a joined-up global world with customers and colleagues in all corners of the globe. In years to come, mini computers will be built in to every fabric of our lives and data will be downloaded and analysed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

We may in future even have our own carbon budgets that limit us as to where and when we can travel. As the populations of the emerging economies grow, countries like China and India will enter energy intensive periods of economic growth, which will mean more pressure on energy reserves and prices.

As aspirations rise in the emerging economies, so too will demand for modern technology and everyday appliances such as fridges and air conditioners, not to mention the increase in demand for motor vehicles and transport. While we will continue to experience booms and busts, there will clearly be high growth and increased demand for medical services in countries where populations are ageing and stem cell research will boom.

Skills in energy conservation will also be in demand and creative clusters will emerge everywhere.