Rory McIlroy is a notably talented but erratic golfer. Two Sundays ago, he won the British Open after playing a solid four rounds of golf. During the daily press conferences, he was asked how he did it, to which he consistently replied: “I keep repeating two words to myself and it is really helping me.” He refused to tell anyone until that Sunday evening, when it emerged that the words were ‘Process’ and ‘Spot’! A major letdown for the press, but these two words meant a great deal to us at Veritas.
You see, the word ‘Process’ to Rory meant to approach every shot the same way and never to deviate from it. All he thought about was his process (his routine) and he left the rest up to his undoubted natural ability. ‘Spot’ came into play when he was on the green. He’d choose a spot close to him to aim at, and then would think of nothing else but the spot, whether near or far from the hole. This provided him with a great deal of clarity and peace as he played the round. He was not thinking of the occasion, the crowd, the wind or his playing partners. He was, as they say: in the Bubble.
Financial planning and your financial affairs should be treated in the same way, yet more often than not, they aren’t. Our industry, with the help of the media, tends to make it incredibly complex. One of our goals at Veritas, when interacting with our clients, is to give them a sense of understanding and control over their affairs. The starting point in the Process is to get people to realise that the money needs to work for them and not the other way around. We find that once people understand what they want to achieve, then the financial planning process gets a lot easier. This process ends when we work out with the client what investment strategy they need to achieve and then decide on an implementation.
Spot, in financial planning, is the reviewing of the plan. This is where all clients and advisers make the most mistakes. Clients need to concentrate on how their lifestyle is going and planners need to focus on how the plan is doing against the benchmarks set. Like McIlroy, financial planners and clients need to tune out the noise and distractions and keep things simple and focused. Make the money work for you.
If you find yourself walking into a planner’s office and you are both starting with a discussion of economics, politics, markets, costs, income tax, CGT or estate duty, then you know you have started in the wrong place. Stop and go back to your lifestyle, and the rest of these issues will be easier to deal with. We need to create our own bubble in our financial affairs and remember what well-known American financial planner Tim Maurer says: “Personal Finance is more personal than finance.”