When I speak to people looking to invest money, they almost always want the best possible return with the least possible risk. But this isn’t really possible because risk and return are linked. So, instead, I prefer to start with the question – “what is your blue sky vision of life?”
For me, this is about understanding what’s most important to you. So I might ask follow up questions to get you to deeply envisage what your life will look like in the future. This will include where you live, who you live with, what your family is doing and what your legacy will be.
These are all things that people don’t often get time to think about. I know from my own personal situation if I went home most days and asked my wife what our life looks like in 10 years time she wouldn’t know where to begin. We’re typically so focused on getting through the next 24 hours that we don’t take time to stop and think about our future.
Initially, most clients are unsure about why these questions are relevant. If you’re coming to me to invest money, you probably don’t expect to have a discussion about what you want your life to look like. Really understanding what the blue sky vision of your future looks like helps drive better investment outcomes, better estate planning decisions and more personalised advice. Most importantly, it can help me ascertain whether you’re taking enough risk, or if you need to accept more risk or change your blue sky vision.
Before a meeting, I don’t want you to do any homework. If a couple comes in and they’ve overthought things, one person will often put forward their thoughts around the future and dominate the conversation. But if we just have a chat together we’ll get to the core of what your joint vision for the next 10 years looks like. The reality is it’s not the money that’s important. What’s important is what the money means for you.
What’s your legacy? What are your family’s aspirations? What are your hopes and goals for the future? If I understand those things then I can shape your investment decisions and work towards achieving those goals. There are always going to be speed bumps along the way, so if you’re aligned in terms of what you want your life to look like then you can maintain discipline around your plan.
That’s why rather than a risk-return conversation, I always prefer to start by understanding your blue-sky vision of life. From there we can talk about how to achieve that vision with the least amount of risk possible.
Raamy Shahien is Group Managing Director at Viridian Advisory
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