Last week I attended a networking event where I met some new and interesting people. Attending these events can be interesting to say the least. Once people find out that you are a Financial Planner you will often find that they either avoid the topic of money completely, or very often I find that people are desperate to talk about their finances. Given the state of the potential pension crisis for those looking ahead to retirement, and increasingly urgent issue of how to get on the property ladder for the young, it is no wonder that people want to talk. On this occasion however, one of the questions I was asked was: “How will I survive on the limited pensions I have built up so far?” The person asking the question was too young to retire but old enough to think about it.
I spoke to another person at the event who had their own financial conundrum. She explained that she was going travelling with her partner with the intention of ticking off as many places as they could from their bucket list. It all sounded very exciting, particularly when compared to the camping trip I have planned over the summer, and, as I said to her - why not? With no children and health problems on the horizon, taking the time to fulfil your travel dreams seems like a reasonable way to enjoy your savings.
Meeting new people and listening to their very different but equally important experiences has made me reflect on my own week of personal highs and lows.
It was a positive start to the week, when I joined my family to celebrate the joy of marriage when I attended my cousin’s wedding. It was wonderful to take a trip back to the country of my birth and to meet new friends and connect again with my family in sunny Scotland. Helping two people to celebrate the beginning of their journey together was heart-warming.
My wife and I decided to break up the long drive back home to Essex by stopping off in Yorkshire to give our young children a treat at Lightwater Valley. Needless to say, we had a magical time and the children loved it. Yet seeing the news the next morning that a poor child had fallen from one of the very rides that my family had been on sent a chill down my spine and made me feel incredibly lucky.
On our return home, the excitement of our time away together quickly drained away as we attended the funeral of a dear friend. On these occasions it is hard not to reflect on one’s own life, a feeling which is increased when attending the funeral of people your own age (I’m in my 40s). You cannot help but ask yourself the ‘what ifs’, if something awful happened to me. How would my family manage? Would they be financially secure? Despite having worked in Financial Planning for many years, even I am not immune to these natural fears.
There is no doubt that life is a journey, with twists and turns often throwing up events which are out of your control. It is impossible to plan every aspect of your life, and as I have come to realise very vividly this week, even when you do, fate can have its own plan. But, as a Financial Planner I would be failing in my responsibility if I didn’t highlight the importance of putting thought into how loved ones would be protected albeit by life insurance or critical illness, or more happily, how to cover a long and healthy retirement?
I love my job as a financial planner. I don’t control the markets and I can’t control fate. What I can do is be there for my clients, whatever stage in life they are going through. I don’t have all the answers, but I am here to listen, help and guide as the journey of life is common to us all. One thing that I will be doing this weekend is going through my own financial planning, to make sure I have done all I can for whatever the future holds.