It feels like we have had enough uncertainty of late to last a lifetime, doesn’t it! Of course, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the vortex of negativity as our world has seemingly been tipped upside down.
Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the success of the Pfizer-BioN Tech Covid results. Of course, there are still many unknowns and there will be lots of conjecture as to how well it works on the elderly, how long its protection lasts, how quickly can it be rolled out and what the take up might be. On the face of it though, good news.
Last week, as I watched the results of the US election unfold, it struck me how insignificant we all are with regards to what is happening on the world stage. It’s easy to get caught up in what we can’t directly influence and easy to forget that we should concentrate on matters closer to home, controlling those things which we can influence. Like planning our own future.
Just like on the global stage, there will be lots of curve balls to come in our personal lives but taking control of your finances and having a plan which is evaluated frequently, delivers a degree of certainty and that much needed tonic… confidence!
My point is, perhaps we should spend less time worrying about things we can’t influence and spend more time and energy ensuring we are living the best possible life.
A positive bi-product of the pandemic
Well, I’m pleased to say that we are seeing more people engage with financial planning. Especially those who have an eclectic mix of pensions. Many have been meaning to take a more detailed look at what they have at their disposal and try to understand what ultimately it all means to them. Lockdown has meant more time and less excuses. If you are not going to sort these pensions out in a lockdown, you’re probably never going to sort them out!
Actually, there have been a number of catalysts. The plunging stock-markets in March, the realisation that one may not have many years of one’s working life left, the appreciation of not having to travel long distances into work and the dawning of a new era whereby people want more control of their lives. If you like, a greater say around their future. A future which sees them more in control of their day-to-day behaviours and ultimately, their destiny.
So, having been preaching for years about how important it is to have a flexible and dynamic plan which resonates with your own personal circumstances, it’s taken a crisis to move people from inertia and kick start them into action.
You might have a knackered old engine!
With more people embarking upon financial planning, it goes hand-in-hand that many individuals and families are beginning to question the advice they have been getting or, in many cases, the lack of advice. Change is happening all around us and so it follows that our financial plans should be updated and importantly, the performance of our investments and pensions should be evaluated frequently, to ensure we are not in the ‘slow lane’.
Yet, in the last two weeks I have come across two new potential clients whose advisers haven’t reviewed or evaluated their holdings, not just this year, nor last, but for four and five years respectively! My, the world has changed quite dramatically over this time and in both cases, we found that the investments were no longer fit for purpose.
We always say, “if you are planning to invest, don’t, without firstly investing in planning”. However, it’s no good just having a financial plan without having a strong investment strategy. It’s like having an upmarket car powered by a knackered old engine.
Looking through your eyes
For any planning to be prudent and relevant, it’s important that the recipient is imbued with a strong emotional connection around the numbers. Understanding the ins and outs of all the technical detail is down to the adviser but as a client, what you really want is… confidence. Yes, that word again!
You want to be confident that you have evaluated all the possibilities, the risks and the opportunities. You don’t want someone coming along and saying “what you want to do mate is…”.
You want to be sure that the planner/adviser understands you and is ‘on message’ as to how you would like to live your life in the future. Everything then becomes so much more meaningful, compelling and fulfilling.
With more time on our hands, we have probably been presented with the best opportunity to plan our future. If you haven’t already done so, now’s your time.
As a reader of this blog, it is highly likely that you have a co-ordinated plan, but if you know people who haven’t, please give them a nudge.
Or if this doesn’t work… give them a swift kick up the backside!
Gary Neild B.Sc.Hons. DipIP PFA