The phrase ‘a cunning plan’ is most associated with the classic comedy series Black Adder. The problem was, of course, that there never was a cunning plan!
Lately, I’ve had a bit of fun with new enquiries into the business, asking them whether they have a ‘cunning plan’. Not to embarrass them at all, but more to flush out what they are really thinking about with regards to their future. In most cases, there isn’t a plan and certainly there have been few signs of any cunning activity.
To be fair, these new clients have not demonstrated ill-deserved confidence. The reality is that they haven’t got time to think about their future. They are all earning a really good income but have very busy lives and are struggling with work/life balance. They used to have lots of surplus income and lots of time but even then their idea of a plan was thinking about what they were going to do at the weekend or for their next holiday.
Now, here they are, responsible adults who know they should be thinking about planning the future but, frankly, don’t know where to start. I’m talking about very well-educated people who are paying way more tax than they need to, have little idea of how to manage the money in their pensions and are spending what they earn every month.
We’ve had a flurry of enquiries from people aged around 40-45 who have one eye on today but know they need to have one eye on the future too. However, they neither have the knowledge, inclination nor the time to get their head around what they should be doing to plan effectively.
As I say to everyone… no one has ever regretted building a proper plan. In extreme cases, we really have helped make dreams come true (early retirement, change of lifestyle etc), but with every single client, at the basic level, we deliver confidence. Initially, borne out of relief that they are going to be ok, and when we explore possibilities the planning really starts to come alive and clients feel more empowered… and certainly less anxious.
I’m delighted to see that many more younger people are engaging with financial planning and taking control of their future. It’s a tough gig growing up and having to be responsible!
This is a genuine comment from a young client the day after her first annual review with her husband; “that’s the best night’s sleep we’ve both had in years! Who knew we even worried about money that much?! Yesterday’s financial modelling brought our future to life and to know it’s rosy is so reassuring – almost overwhelming!”
So, this is my message: if you don’t already have a plan, make one! If it’s a cunning plan, then perhaps you are kidding yourself. Whatever you do though, don’t go marching forward with ill-deserved confidence.
Gary Neild B.Sc.Hons. DipIP PFA