Even Marcus needs wellies 

Over the years, like many husbands, I have developed various behaviours to cope when my wife is trying on clothes in shops.  If the retailer had any compassion for people like me, they would assign parking areas, with comfy seats, a coffee-machine, and car magazines.  Sadly, either space or basic humanity is lacking, so I have evolved my own practice of lurking.  The aim is to balance ease of access, in readiness for those "what do you think of this?" moments, whilst somehow avoiding being intimately associated with women's clothing to the extent that proximity becomes a questionable oddity.  In lingerie departments, my wife has to shout her questions.  The practical manifestation of this approach, is The Lurk.

On Monday, I was hard at work lurking in a clothes shop in Hay on Wye, when I heard a very familiar voice asking the assistant for wellie boots.  It was Marcus Brigstocke!  Quickly, I closed my gaping mouth.  This should not have been a surprise.  Hay is a magnet for arty/celeb/literary types, and this was, after all, the time of the Hay Festival.  I thought about the incident for a moment.  It was entirely predictable that Marcus Brigstocke would be in Hay - he was probably going to be giving a headline talk, perhaps releasing a new book or something.  What was more of a surprise was the sudden need for wellies, especially when it turns out that Marcus is a frequent visitor.

This is Hay, after all.  And Hay is in Wales, where it is always raining.  And the Festival takes place in a large, damp field which quickly degenerates into the kind of glutinous mess that will swallow small children without leaving a trace.  It is inconceivable that anyone would attend such an event without wellies, or at least impressive walking boots with industrial strength treads.  So, Marcus' presence in a clothing shop, trying out some very natty wellies, is an indication of a lack of preparation.

Often, we're a bit like that as we seek to manage and develop our financial planning and wealth-management propositions.  Back in 2005 and 2006, we ran a series of 'Recession-Protection' workshops to assist our Members in building businesses which would cope better with the phenomenon of a financial meltdown.  Some listened, but, based at least upon observations after 2008, quite a few carried on, sublimely indifferent to the prospects of stormy weather ahead.  In such contexts, it is not altogether pleasant to have been proven so right.

Clearly, we cannot predict the future with any degree of certainty.  But we can anticipate, by playing through 'what ifs?' in our mind.  And we can assign some kind of likelihood to the 'what ifs?' that we come up with.  'What if' a Vogon Constructor Fleet materialises out of deep space, and hoovers all my client files up?  Ok, that one's not terribly probable.  But 'what if' I have failed to back up my key client files, and I get hit with malware?  The good news for ValidPathers is that Clarity, our network-wide business infrastructure, includes secure, remote data-storage and automatic backups.  Here are a few other 'what ifs?' that might be relevant:
  • what if I have accumulated liabilities for indemnified commissions, and I do not set aside adequate reserves?
  • what if my advisory proposition becomes too dependent upon one particular kind of activity or advice area?
  • what if I don't work hard at keeping close to my clients?
  • what if I am not absolutely clear with new clients about my charges, right at the outset of my advice process?
  • what if I succumb to the temptation to skip the careful due diligence when advising on complex or more exotic investment products?
  • what if I don't have in place a robust process to gather written client instructions before I make changes to investments held on a Wrap/Platform?
  • what if I don't take steps to market my proposition during times when business is good?
  • what if I don't keep my files up to date whilst I am working on a case?
Marcus looked very fetching in his new, shiny, navy-blue wellies.  In my imagination, I see him returning home after each Festival to a room that is now piled to the ceiling with nearly-new pairs of waterproof footwear.  The failure to anticipate, to plan ahead, to ask those legitimate 'what ifs?' can in the end be a very expensive one.
Kevin Moss, 27/05/2014