Sometimes in life you just feel good about something.Â You just know in your heart and soul if something will be good, bad or indifferent.Â It steers us in and out of relationships, it directs us, at times, that hard-to-define “feel good” factor.
The year 2008 has that feel to me and hopefully, without tempting fate, I say it looks like it will be a good year.
It appears to be a good year to discard baggage and things that make me feel uncomfortable – and I am not talking of my clothing straining under the pressure of a Christmas and New Year well eaten!
There are many times in our lives when we reach a crossroads and at each instance we have to make decisions, decisions that will govern how the remainder of our lives unfold.
These decisions can in many cases never be questioned, as we will never know what the alternate route would have brought us. Even when a decision brings us success we never know whether another route could have been even more fortuitous.
I have never quite understood whether “Poles Apar” related to an electromagnetic or geographical opposite, but we all clearly understand it to be opposite viewpoints on the same subject. Over the last few months I have read several letters written by IFA’s, and talked to others, on a subject that seems to divide many service!
Client servicing means many different things to many financial advisors, but one point is clear as long as we are talking about it. We must, hopefully, be striving to improve it. Although I personally cannot abide the arrogance of anyone who dictates and preaches their own perceived virtues, as if they are the only way, it is interesting to listen to or read those who are so convinced of their divine correctness.
There are always two sides to a coin, two sides to every argument and two views on service! Those in the business of delivering service will tell you that it is always getting better, while the rest of us, on the receiving end, find good service very hard to find.
Financial services is a key battle ground in the service war – Better, Faster, Greener, Today, Tommorow and very PC, whatever the slogan we are assailed by the PR campaigns of the banks, insurance companies and investment houses, but has service really improved?
When people expect returns in excess of 25% per annum, whether they be in property or shares, you have a clear case of unrealistic expectations and therefore a potential collision of expectations waiting to happen.
When you read, too often, that the way to achieve this scale of return is simply to switch between the two aforementioned Investment Classes as each slows, then you have potentially the blind leading the blind.
As a financial planner, many of you will know that your decision to take that career path was based on the fact you are one of those people. Much of the Financial Services Industry is, strangely enough, peopled by individuals who are not that gregarious or blessed with people skills. We are, however, on the front line!
But, boy, what a front line! Ours is a world apart from the rest and I personally love it. Where else can you actually meet with people and have an almost immediate impact on their lives, even if it is just to redraft their will correctly? We have the skills to make a difference and it is a real pleasure to do exactly that, whenever possible.
We live in an ever changing world. Take your eye off the papers or TV for only a few days and the rest of the world seems to be dealing with, and talking about, issues you know nothing about.
This is the information age and we are force-fed a diet of news and product, constantly. Forget noise pollution, we are now assailed by visual pollution, you cannot open your eyes without someone’s brand or message prompting you to buy or sell.
Occasionally you can find yourself in a space where time has seemingly stood still, there is no road noise, there are no adverts and your soul actually feels lighter and more at peace. I suppose that is the real purpose of a holiday, the ability to allow our minds and bodies to recover before we return to the hectic world we now live within.
It is said that no man is an island; we are all connected to different people and facets of life. Personally I quite like the response of Hugh Grant in the movie, “About a Boy”, his sister screams at him, “No man is an island, you know”, he fires back, “Well I am. Iâ’m Ibiza!” OK, we get it. At times I would also like to be Ibiza hot, packed with young restless things and ready to party 24 hours a day (more pills doctor, please)!
Then on the other hand, I look in the mirror, check the birth date on my passport and realise perhaps my destiny is, in fact, to be a slightly less chaotic island than Ibiza, or rather one that does not require me to stay up until 5am every morning, as my sons like saying, “you’re old Dad.” Thanks boys!
James Goldsmith was asked what he thought about his daughter Jemima’s marriage to Imran Khan, the Pakistani cricketer. “He will be a good first husband”, he answered straight faced. Well, he was certainly correct that it would not last, but whether Hugh Grant would have met with the, now deceased, mogul’s approval, we will never know!
What I do know, however, is that a line I heard from him many years ago still rings true as a bell today. Jimmy was asked what he thought of a particular hot and popular new investment trend, his reply says it all: “If you can spot a trend, you’ve missed it!”