Monthly Archives: June 2019

The “ABCDE” Method to Avoiding Knee-Jerk Reactions to Negative Financial Events

As part of the Financial Planning process, we talk to clients about how market volatility is a normal part of investing. We’ve also discussed how we’ve structured investments to “weather the storm” and maintain a comfortable level of income for both themselves and their family during turbulent times.

But we also understand that even those who are armed with this knowledge can get nervous during a market dip. What’s important is that you know how to prevent that initial wave of negativity from leading you to rash decisions that could damage your nest egg much worse than a market correction.

Dr. Martin Seay is a specialist in positive psychology, which focuses on strategies that people can use to improve their sense of well-being. Dr. Seay’s ‘ABCDE’ method can help you work through your reactions to distressing financial news and arrive at a positive outcome.

Let’s run through an example of how to use this method to avoid making a bad, emotion-based financial decision.

A. Activating Event

Sometimes stress and anxiety can feel all-encompassing. Dr. Seay believes it’s important that we pinpoint the event that triggered our negative feelings.  So, while you might feel general anxiety about your finances, drill down a little deeper. Is your job secure? OK. Are you saving and investing according to your financial plan? Good.

Did you just read on social media that today’s market correction was “THE BIGGEST ONE-DAY DROP IN HISTORY!”

Ahh, there it is. Let’s move on to the next step.

B. Belief

Market volatility can rouse some of our worst instincts about investing. We might fall back on long-buried beliefs like, “This game is fixed!” We might feel like we’ve entrusted our financial future to powers beyond our control.

Working through this step, it’s important to ask yourself where your beliefs come from. Have you been unsettled by widespread media coverage of major financial problems, like the 2008-2009 financial crisis? Have you had negative interactions with the finance industry in the past? Perhaps one of your parents distrusted the markets or made a poor investment that had a negative impact on your family.

Figuring out why you believe what you believe about the markets can help alert you before you fall back into bad financial habits.

C. Consequences

Panicked investors who can’t shake negative beliefs about the markets often make poor decisions during downturns. They think they need to “get out fast” to avoid more negative consequences, like further losses.

Ironically, cashing out your investments during a market correction usually leads to far more serious consequences in the long run.

So how can you stay focused on the big picture?

D. Disputation

Start by using what you know to counter what you believe.

For example, we’ve discussed in both client meetings and our blog that the historical, long-term trajectory of the financial markets has been to rise over time. And now, market averages such as the FT 100 index are near all-time highs. Therefore, when the market does have a temporary drop, we might say, “The FT was down x hundreds of points today.” It sounds like a big number, but as a percentage, it may just be normal volatility.

We’ve also discussed that “market timing” strategies usually just don’t work. That’s why our portfolios are diversified, balanced, and strategically re-balanced as necessary. Decades of market history have shown that sticking to this type of investment strategy may be more effective – and stable – than trying to jump in and out of the market based on what’s happening in the news right now.

E. Energised

 It’s amazing how just reminding ourselves of what we know to be true can make us feel better about a negative situation. Hopefully at the end of this process, you feel a renewed sense of positivity about this present moment and your financial future.

But, we understand that market volatility can be complicated; and a downturn can be downright nerve-wracking.

 

Warnings

This article is distributed for educational purposes only and must not be considered to be advice.   Errors and omissions excepted. 

Freetirees

Pension freedoms usher in a new generation

The introduction of pension freedoms has been a huge enabler for over-55’s, allowing millions to draw income from their pensions flexibly. Pension freedoms offer the opportunity to transition into retirement by continuing to work with reduced hours beyond traditional retirement age.

This emerging trend enables you to choose a middle path, allowing for reduced working hours and more flexible quality leisure time, while also receiving your retirement benefits. Taking a phased approach to retirement, new research[1] shows, was the preference for half of UK workers over 50, or five million workers[2].

Tailor retirement to your own individual requirements

The flexibility that pension freedoms gives means that older workers can tailor their retirement to their own individual requirements, giving rise to a new distinct and more ‘free’ stage of life in between work and retirement.

A quarter (26%) of over-50s could see themselves continuing to work while collecting their pension, but their motivation for doing so isn’t driven solely by economics. Keeping their brain active and an enjoyment of work as well as the benefits of social interaction all play their part.

Work–life balance has never been more important

Earning an income later in life also provides workers with the opportunity to continue saving, which can mean higher retirement benefits in the future. The research highlights that a work–life balance has never been more important to those over 55. Pension freedoms have allowed them to throw off the shackles of a traditional retirement and follow a plan that suits their individual needs. While historically people benefitted from generous final salary pensions, one drawback of these was that they didn’t offer much flexibility to decide how and when to take benefits.

The pension freedoms have changed the way people think about retirement and are enabling the rise of a more flexible transition into retirement, including allowing people to choose to start accessing some retirement savings to support a reduced working pattern.

Freedoms to continue to live life on your own terms

Pension freedoms have allowed older workers to be more flexible, creating a distinct phase in their later life where they can alter their working pattern to their needs. This allows them to continue working beyond traditional retirement age while also having more time for leisure, for family, for volunteering and to pursue hobbies and travel.

The research also highlights another point that older workers want to be able to continue to live life on their own terms, and pension freedoms allow an increasing number to enjoy a new life stage where they can combine reduced working hours with enjoying more leisure time.

What is your financial action plan?

For many people, it’s not clear where their money will come from when they no longer receive a salary – and that can be stressful. But don’t worry. With our help, you can create a plan of the actions you can take today to prepare you for the life you want tomorrow.  Why not speak to us to arrange a meeting.

 

Source data:

[1] Research conducted by Aegon in conjunction with Opinium, based on responses from 1007 UK workers aged 50+ earning £20k+ between 30 November and 6 December 2018.

[2] Office for National Statistics A05 NSA: Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity by age group

Have You Been Surprised by Retirement?

We can’t know for sure what’s ahead in retirement any more than we know about our career when we take our first job.  We might start out with a plan, but life happens, and before we know it, we can find ourselves in the midst of something entirely different.

The surprises might come right away, when the reality of retirement doesn’t match up with our dreams. They may come later, after we think we’ve got it all figured out . . . only to find we don’t. By definition, we can’t know what surprises are in store for us.

Here are a few surprises …. have you experienced others?

A child moves back home. No one’s surprised if a son or daughter returns home after graduating from university. The surprise comes when for example, a single, 32-year-old son loses his highly paid job in the city, can no longer pay his rent, and moves back in with his parents. Hopefully they find another job and then off they go on their own again, but this could take some time so be prepared and don’t make it too comfortable for them… unless of course you really do want them to stay.

Where are we living now? A close friend of mine told me he always figured he’d retire to Spain. He and his wife spent several years visiting various parts, until one weekend they stayed with some friends in North Wales. They fell in love with area and before the weekend was over, they’d put down a deposit on a new house. Now, two years later, they love it . . . but even they are still surprised they ended up in Wales instead of Spain.

The doctor calls. It is probable that we will all get a nasty medical surprise at some point. You may have had an active lifestyle in your younger days and have visions of this continuing into retirement. But the arthritis in your knees and ankles may make you rethink this. Many people are taken aback when they discover they have to limit their activities or take medication for the rest of their lives.

Are we going to work? A lot of people plan to take a part-time job after they retire, then are surprised to find out the workforce is not clambering for 65-year olds. Working at the local DIY store isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream job, and whilst some of us may be suited to a consultancy role in our chosen profession, that is not for everyone.   The other ideal is to work whether it is paid or otherwise in a sector that interests you. Volunteer at your local theatre group or independent cinema or a charity.

One of my neighbour’s volunteers to look after hearing dogs (dogs for deaf people) for one or 2 weeks at a time whilst their trainer takes a break.   This means that he gets to exercise and look after the very well-trained dogs but without any long-term commitment.

Money doesn’t matter as much. Although I find that retirement is a great leveller. Most of us expect to live on a reduced income, some savings and maybe a pension. Our income is stable. We’re not pushing for a pay rise or promotion. The pressure is off. So, a lot of people are surprised that success in retirement is less about how big our house is, or what car we drive, and more about having fun, hanging out with a good crowd, and leaving a legacy for friends and family.

We can deal with all the change. I know it’s sounds stupid, but it’s a surprise to me that after retirement, life goes on — meaning things continue to change.  We move; we have grandchildren; our kids do something unexpectedly different. We have different friends, perhaps different interests. We realise we can cope with a lot of change and adapt to new developments. Yes, some of us are surprised that we can do this!