The world can certainly seem rather bleak at times. If you’re someone who regularly consumes the output of mainstream media outlets, you will undoubtedly live in a perpetual state of Armageddon. For we are never without crisis; disease outbreak, natural disaster, economic meltdown, political corruption, civil war, Elon Musk tweets – these all form part of the 24/7 news reel that we can scroll through infinitely on our handheld notification delivery systems.
All this means it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain sanguine when it comes to managing investments. After all, this is money that people have no doubt worked very hard to accumulate over a number of years and will do whatever it takes to keep safe.
It can be particularly testing during the major transitions in life. As a financial planner, the majority of people I work with are in the process planning their retirement, or ‘Life After Work’ as I prefer to call it. This can be a very emotional, stressful and worrying time for many people. Suddenly, a busy, successful, fulfilling career begins to merge into an uncertain phase of life. Suddenly, a pot of money you’ve worked so hard your entire career to accumulate, becomes a very heavy weight around your neck. Suddenly, doubt and fear become the overriding emotions in what should, in reality, be an extremely liberating time in your life.
Imagine how easy it would be, in the heat of the latest ‘apocalypse du jour’, to type in the username and password of your online investment account, gasp at the sea of red, downward-pointing arrows and commit the most catastrophic of errors at the worst possible time. Imagine succumbing to the constant beat of negativity, no longer able to fight the natural urge to run and hide. Imagine selling your ownership of the world’s greatest companies at a significant discount, at a time when you really need them most. This doesn’t appear to make a whole lot of sense, does it? Yet this is exactly what people do with their investment portfolios all the time, especially when the numbers become big, scary and important.
The world can seem like a lonely place at times. We are engulfed by news (some of which is often the ‘fake’ variety), opinion pieces and infinite information. How can people be expected to make rational, objective decisions and act in their own best interests, while constantly being told the world is about to end? Don’t get me wrong, I am sure most people reading this are sensible enough to take most things they read, watch and listen to with a pinch of salt, but I have witnessed even the most rational people tempted to make terrible decisions in the wake of the latest crisis.
This, of course, is where a trusted, experienced, qualified professional can step in to act as a shield against the humming news cycle we have no choice but to endure. Someone to be the voice of reason in a world of panic, doom and despair. Someone who has helped countless others overcome the same fears and uncertainties, and persist on their path towards financial salvation.
The great financial planners are students of history. They take the countless lessons from the past and use them to contextualise the here and now, in order to help people make better long-term decisions for them and their families. They do not panic when the world is at its scariest and they do not hide when things get real. Instead, they stand with their real-world knowledge and experience to protect the people they care about most in their professional lives; their clients. The great financial planners are optimists in a world of pessimism.