“Life is what happens whilst you’re busy making other plans” – John Lennon
When I’m asked what I do for a job I mumble something about investment management, honestly I’d rather say refuse collector than Financial Advisor, having met so many I’m yet to find more than a few I feel comfortable with as most leave me slightly queasy.
The practice of investment however seems to me a much nobler and more thoughtful endeavour. It embraces economics, law, accountancy, politics, psychology and emotional intelligence so to do it well is to master much.
Investment as a practice is fundamentally the choice in the allocation of finite resources to an infinite number of possibilities; which is a life skill as much as a financial one.
We all have limited time, limited energy, limiting personal characteristics and in order to utilise these to their best effect some hard questions need to be asked.
What’s most important to me?
What do I want to achieve?
What am I capable of at my best?
What do I regard as success?
Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” details the common traits of the most successful business people of the age (written at the suggestion of Andrew Carnegie), it is usually read as a get rich quicker guide although it poses a more subtle question.
It asks the reader to decide what wealth means to them, of course it’s partly financial but can it not also be spiritual, include family, encompass community? To be balanced and rounded in one’s focus and goals (he suggests) is a key to feeling truly wealthy although it probably wouldn’t have sold 70 million copies with the title: “Think and Grow Up”.
Warren Buffett, currently the 4th richest human, writes ostensibly about money but his messages are also laced with personal as well as financial values.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and a moment to destroy it, if you think of that you’ll do things differently”
This was said many years before the recent banking crisis when numerous reputations went up in smoke.
In an age of money worship it is interesting that life guidance is eagerly sought from the financial prophets of profit; the great historic teachers of values (if around today) would possibly choose to be tech visionaries or financial gurus if they wanted attentive audiences.
So a key to feeling successful (wealthy) is to be clear about one’s own definition of success and to have it work both with overall life values and with the realities of how the world actually works.
As Buffett counsels “To get rich slowly is eminently possible and can be achieved with planning, to get rich quick requires a large element of luck which will probably run out.”
The initial quote from John Lennon also sums this up well; humans can “imagine their future but life won’t follow that script.”
I explained it slightly differently to the Tiny Terrorist recently (she is doing a Business A level).
Think of it like Monopoly; you choose what properties to buy, when to put houses on them and you negotiate deals with others; that’s all in your control.
The life bit is the dice, it’s random, you roll them, and then deal with what turns up, mostly it’s ok, sometimes it’s good but occasionally you land on Mayfair with a hotel and you don’t own it.
NOTE: This is written in a personal capacity and reflects the view of the author. The post has been checked and approved to ensure that it is both accurate and not misleading. However, this is a blog and the reader should accept that by its very nature many of the points are subjective and opinions of the author. This is not a recommendation to buy any product or service including any share or fund mentioned. Individuals wishing to buy any product or service as a result of this blog must seek advice or carry out their own research before making any decision, the author will not be held liable for decisions made as a result of this blog (particularly where no advice has been sought). Investors should also note that past performance is not a guide to future performance and investments can fall as well as rise.