Slouching Toward Crisis

Since the 6th of January I have been on a dead run. Between January 6th and March 5th I conducted Fourteen workshops. In my subsequent meetings with attendees, I learned quite a bit about the current concerns of soon to be retirees. During this time, I also learned about other pastels of thought. In many cases, the clients’ train of thought ran in dysfunction with what they perceived as a prudent course of action. ┬áSome of the concerns were:

  • How to keep assets from dilution due to a protracted illness
  • How do I develop enough income for retirement?
  • What if the stock market fails?
  • Is inflation a real concern?
  • What do I have to do to keep my estate private?

These concerns are almost universal. Yet, there is a paralysis infecting most of these visitors to my office. Many of them leave without taking action. Some commit to taking action at a future visit, then call an cancel. In most cases they cancel because they look for non-professional advice that gives them comfort in their current course of action.

After much thought, I have distilled this down into these trains of thought. These people do nothing, or the wrong thing because:

  • I haven’t done my job well enough to promote motivation to change.
  • Inertia is easier than decision-making.
  • Fear. Many of my proposals and ideas challenge what they have been told by financial advisers, rich uncles, parents, and the media.
  • Lack of confidence. Our education system has created two generations of economic illiterates. They instinctively feel ill-equipped to make serious financial decisions.
  • Comfort. It is easier to do what your friends say is a good idea than to strike off in new directions.
  • Greed. The belief the stock market will always support earnings, savings, and income. This is delusional. History teaches us this retiring generation is the first one to rely on the stock market to support their lifestyle and security. History also teaches us the stock market is not a guarantor of wealth or security.
  • Ego. “I picked a great financial advisor”. The belief their ‘Advisor’ is special, with special skills that will save them from a market correction.
  • Obliviousness. Refusal to grow up and act like an adult in the financial world. Failure to address issues such as getting wills and powers of attorney done, the acknowledgement they are mortal and cast with the potential for physical frailty or accident.
  • Lack of Love. What person who loves their spouse would NOT get a will and powers of attorney done? What person who loves their spouse would NOT plan for funding for care if a catastrophic or pernicious illness incapacitated them? What person who loves their spouse would NOT plan for income streams the survivor or caretaker cannot outlive?
  • Media. The financial media constantly promotes expensive ‘advisor’ houses, do it yourself investment programs and a myriad of other investment options: gold, silver, unicorns, martian cattle futures, etc.

These are just a few of my random thoughts on the last 10 weeks. The good news is some people come for their visits wide awake and ready for change. In a few weeks I’ll give an update to this thread.