There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests that we tend to age at different rates. Tom Brady may be Exhibit A on the plus side. The importance of the apparent differences in aging rates clearly varies with career choices.
We know that human faculties decrease with age. Declining vision, hearing and cognition can affect everyone. However, certain professionals, such as surgeons, require exceptional vision, manual dexterity, reaction speed and stamina. Sinai Hospital in Baltimore has established a two-day program to evaluate whether older surgeons could safely continue to practice.
There would seem to be considerable merit in an evaluation process that takes into consideration critical variables on an individual basis. Blanket determinations, such as the federal mandate that requires retirement for commercial pilots at age 65, fail to adequately consider individual variables. Logic suggests that some pilots are totally competent after age 65, while others may be well advised to call it a day before 65.
Investors should carefully consider the risks associated with arbitrary retirement requirements for corporate managers and directors. Does anyone really think that Warren Buffett should have called it quits more than 20 years ago, at age 65?
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA