Let’s face it, we’ve all had plenty of time to assess our lives over the last 15 months and to work out what it is about them that we want to change. Now, as the world gradually recovers recovers from the coronavirus crisis, many people are embarking on a new start, whether that’s a a new relationship, new home, a new job, or perhaps a new attitude to life and work.
Typically, human beings are overconfident when making big changes. We underestimate the complexities involved and the time and effort it will take us to adjust. In the latest in this series on the reasons for engaging with a financial adviser, ROBIN POWELL explains why, for anyone making a new start, seeking the counsel of a good financial planner is a wise move.
Reason #3: You want to make a new start
Has there ever been a time in your life when, having absolutely committed yourself to reaching a long-term goal and seeking to do everything you could to achieve it, you woke up one day and decided that it wasn’t what you wanted after all?
It might have been a dream job or destination, a plan for a new business or a vision for how you would spend your life in retirement. You once thought it was all set in stone and you had arranged your waking hours to planning and thinking about how you might achieve it.
But then you changed your mind. This might have come in a flash (‘what was I thinking?) or it might have been something that dawned on you more gradually. But suffice it to say, you went cold on the project and decided you needed a complete rethink about priorities.
At first, you might have imagined you could do all this on your own. You sold all those unwanted assets and paid off the loans. The money left over you sank into a high-yield bond and half a dozen shares you read about in an investment newsletter.
But then things went wrong. Your high-yield investments turned out to very high risk and extremely hard to turn back into cash. The shares were duds. Now, you have no liquidity to start again and having sold your assets and turned off the bank loans, little easy access to credit.
Worse, you feel no surer about the next venture than the last one.
An objective view
The lesson from these sorts of experiences is that if you are making a new start, it’s worthwhile consulting a professional planner for an informed opinion — someone who can take an objective view and help you through a period of transition in your life.
This applies even if your external circumstances haven’t dramatically changed. It may just be that you’ve decided your priorities are different than they were six months ago.
A large part of the benefit of consulting an adviser at these points is having someone to help you reflect on what you want and how to articulate it, now that the other thing didn’t work out. Here are ten questions a good planner might ask you to get you thinking:
- Why does the plan that you were so devoted to suddenly seem less appealing?
- How would you compare yourself now to when you first committed to that goal?
- Why did it seem such a good idea at the time?
- What do you think you did right with that plan and why?
- Equally, what would you have changed and paid more attention to?
- Let’s talk about the present, then. What do you most value in your life now?
- What do you feel are the elements that are most missing?
- What would you do with your life if money wasn’t an impediment?
- In terms of planning and investing, what scares you the most?
- What inspires you most and what couldn’t you live without?
The point about questions like these is to build on what you’ve learnt from your experience to date, better understand your strengths and weaknesses, clarify what’s most important to you and build a sense of what drives you, what scares you and what you are willing to give up.
For instance, a financial planner may help you realise that, after all, owning a luxury car and going on expensive holidays were really less important to you than an opportunity to learn a new skill or to give yourself options should the next thing not turn out well.
If you are starting again, it’s worth doing a stocktake of what you want to bring with you, what you are willing to jettison (like dreams of a Porsche) and what you really aspire to. More importantly, it’s about focusing on the elements within your control to make it happen.
You can’t control the ups and downs of markets. You can control how you allocate your assets, being diversified and having access to a pool of cash if things don’t work out. You can’t control media noise and other distractions. You can control how you respond.
The planner’s role here is to provide you with clarity, help you with structure and give you a greater sense of control amid uncertainty. On the surface, it’s about material things — your assets and liabilities, your cashflow, your savings and investments, your taxation. Underneath, it’s about helping you get closer to your vision of what is the best life for you.
Ultimately, you’ll make a better start next time with the right adviser.
Missed the first two parts in this series? You can catch up here:
Complexity: another reason why you need advice
Advising on life’s big changes
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The 60/40 portfolio ain’t broke
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