Lesson type: Think like an investor

Why you need to endure the desert before you reach the oasis

Many would be familiar with the phrase “the calm before the storm”, but in my experience working as a financial planner over the last 20 years, I’ve found the phrase “the desert before the oasis” provides a better analogy for clients working towards retirement.

So, what does this phrase mean and how does it relate to retirement planning?

Many people find planning for your future to be a dry and boring topic, much like a desert. Yet, everyone I talk to strives to have a comfortable lifestyle when they stop work – they’d love to experience an “oasis” of sorts.

The challenge is getting through the desert.

You may need to give up things that you want in the short term in order to meet your longer-term goals. This is easier said than done, and many people do find it tricky saying goodbye to instant gratification purchases, like a new car or a holiday, to set themselves up for something that may be many decades away. However, for most of us, this is what needs to happen to reach the oasis later down the track.

There can also be sandstorms, such as a change of employment, relationship breakdowns, health challenges, family issues and impacts on investment markets. You may also experience tailwinds from inheritances or redundancy payouts. The way you approach these will generally dictates the quality of the oasis on the other side.

How one letter can change the meaning of the word

It is important to understand that I am not referring to a yummy dessert, rather a dry barren desert! Funnily enough, your spell check will not suggest you have made a mistake, but it could well be a costly mistake if misread. The addition of one “s” changes the whole meaning of the story.

Many of us feast on dessert, meaning we live beyond our means and lead an unhealthy lifestyle (financially and biologically). Often this results in the oasis being far less than we had hoped, or completely non-existent and instead a mirage!

The role of a financial planner is to assist you to navigate through the storms and make smart and informed decisions on any tailwinds to ensure that the oasis you hope to arrive at (your goals and objectives) meets your expectation and also allows you the choice and flexibility you always planned for. Sometimes, that means realigning expectations of the final oasis, but always in the spirit of not perpetuating a mirage for your journey through the desert.

The inspiration for this blog was an article I read by Vanessa Stoykov from No More Practice Education, titled “The best interview I’ve done all year.” It got me thinking about the topic of retirement planning and how my thoughts have evolved over the last 20 years of advising clients. I often use stories when meeting with my clients, and the title of this blog is a recent addition.

Phillip Win is the managing director and senior financial planner at Profile Financial Services. He has a strong interest and knowledge of investment markets and is constantly exploring “cutting edge” strategies which could benefit his clients.

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