We are living in uncertain times. Both globally and locally, our political and financial landscapes are shifting, leaving many people anxious about the returns on their investments. This type of anxiety can affect our emotions. And, making decisions based on how we feel is never a good recipe for financial planning, long term.
In the face of fear, many people are tempted to convert their investments into cash. But once you do that, how do you know when to re-enter the market? What if you shouldn’t have got out of it in the first place? A move like that brings a whole set of new questions, making us even more anxious than we were before.
So it is that we find ourselves by fear and living our worst – instead of our best – lives.
Something that can put our thinking back on track here is an illustration by Carl Richards, who produces a weekly sketch for the New York Times. It consists of two overlapping circles. The first circle represents things that matter, the second, things you can control. His advice is simple: the only place to focus your energy is where the circles intersect. In other words, what is it that matters to you that you also have control over? Carl’s view is that uncertainty equals reality. And he’s right. Unpredictability is the new norm. So, the best thing we can do is make peace with the inevitable risk of being alive.
In essence, we just cannot control everything. Something as simple as the Serenity Prayer can be your mental calm in a storm. Your soul is searching for the serenity to accept the things you just cannot change, the courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to be able to tell those things apart (my article on the Serenity Prayer can be found on our Retire Successfully website: www.retiresuccessfully.co.za/insights-serenity-prayer.
Here are some Top Tips for Uncertain Times:
- Don’t fight the fact that we live in an uncertain world. It’s a reality that we all need to accept.
- When you feel overwhelmed, try to cut out some of the negative noise. Choose carefully what news you follow and every now and then, take a break from it altogether.
- If your stress levels are affecting your health, get help. Stress is dangerous and too much of it compromises your body.
- Take some time out to reflect. Could your panic be a trigger from the past? A childhood memory sitting beneath the surface of your stress? Dig deeper into the belief you’re holding. Is it true? And is it serving you?
- Make a list of what matters to you that you can control. Keep your mental attention there.
- Your financial plan was designed for the long-term. Have a long-term approach to it and stick to your plan.
- Spend within the plan you’ve agreed on with your planner to make sure your money lasts.
- Make daily decisions to make sure you are living a meaningful life.
It’s not just our financial plans that are long-term commitments. Life is a long-term business too. So, take the time you need for developing the mental fortitude to outfox your financial fears.
Article written by Head of life Planning at Chartered Wealth Solutions and CFP®, Kim Potgieter.
‘State Capture’ has emerged as the South African Word of the Year, and this should be no surprise, given the slew of revelations that have emanated from the Gupta leaks and the resultant disclosures or denials!
What is the upshot of this for the average South African investor? As I suggested in an earlier newsletter this year, the prevailing sentiment has become one of uncertainty, and this has persisted since Nenegate, the turning point in South Africa, both economically and politically. The continual exposure of a corrupt government has followed.
I am encouraged by the knowledge that this is a process that we as a country and citizens need to go through to forge a successful South Africa with leaders of integrity and people making a positive contribution. I also recognise that we are not alone – globally, we are witnessing historic shifts that add to the uncertainty, but are also evidence of a world of changing developments, perspectives and expectations.
Closer to home …
At Chartered, we have experienced a challenging, but good, year, and this largely as a result of the economic and political uncertainty. In a context of ambiguity, people (we are all emotional beings) seek assurance, and it has been our privilege to navigate our clients through these times … and this comes with its own challenges and joys.
Last week, at our fifth annual financial planner getaway, we discovered that 19 of us planners have been at Chartered for three or more years – no small reason for why we see ourselves and our clients as a family. Our focus for the getaway was to keep improving our advice to benefit our clients and ensure we continue to thrive to be the leading retirement planning business in South Africa.
At a client meeting in September, we shared investment reporting enhancements we were considering this year. We found that many clients don’t have a full understanding of the investment and product component of their retirement plan. We have learnt over the years that the deeper client understanding, the more successful our relationship.
This is why our process is a multi-faceted one. We start with a life planning meeting; it’s an opportunity for you to create a vision for your retirement. Once we know what we are planning for, the financial planning meeting follows: we assess your finances and play out a number of scenarios in search of a scenario which works for you. The outcome of this meeting is agreeing on a scenario and an investment strategy for your retirement.
The next step, as we have agreed is necessary, is to have a more detailed look at recommended products (investment vehicles), our investment process and advised solutions. We look forward to sharing this with you, our client, in your next review.
We are also refining our Retirement Plan, with a particular focus on the estate planning component. Chartered Legacy’s experience from winding up estates is guiding us in improving our planning to ensure that this process is more efficient.
Finally, a very exciting development is the opening of Chartered Tax, a business we registered four years ago following numerous requests from clients for tax advice … but we wanted just the right person to run it. Charmaine Prout has managed her own tax company for 30 years. She went through our financial planning process and decided she would love to be part of a bigger organisation. We welcome her and her team to Chartered.
We at Chartered thank all our clients for their continued support, and wish you and your families a happy festive season. Whatever it holds, 2018 can be a fulfilling year for all of us.