I love trekking.
I used to regard anyone walking with poles as a tad too keen. Now I’m one of those pole people.
It is not just the poles.
I’m discovering all sorts of great, weird stuff.
For instance, I don’t know what it is, but I find the combination of conversing and trekking makes ambulatory conversations much more vital than sedentary conversations. It must have something to do with the increased oxygen flow.
The views, smells, sounds, people, places, and surprises hidden from faster travellers as they ride through, run by, drive past, or fly over, provide colour, making each journey memorable.
Being a control freak, I’m surprised how much I prefer the less well-worn and sign-posted paths that create opportunities to ‘get lost’ along unplanned ways.
It is unlike me to relax without knowing exactly where I am or where my path is going.
But I find something invigorating about trusting the elements and locals to enhance my trekking experience. Similar to swimming in the open ocean in the morning dark, but that’s another post.
Listening to other trekkers, their destinations aren’t their drawcards.
Instead, they serve as a waypoint to lead to further waypoints, whether planned or unplanned. Destinations can become the trekker’s problem when being too rigid makes forward steps senseless, ridiculous and even dangerous.
When trekkers get lost, distracted, delayed, wet, frustrated or hurt, they generally see it as an opportunity to better prepare for next time, rather than give it up.
I haven’t yet met a trekker who gave it up willingly.
FINANCIAL LIVES AS A TREK
There isn’t one correct way to trek.
Like financial treks, there is only your way.
The greatest challenges along treks have more to do with what is going on with ourselves than what is going on with our gear, travelling companions or our path.
As there isn’t any one correct path for our financial lives, it is common to feel at times financially lost, directionless, or even going backwards or around in circles.
Fading light, supplies or confidence gradually forces lost or circling trekkers to reach out for support or a plan B.
Where do financial life trekkers go for path advice?
ADVISER AS A GUIDE?
Many advisers today believe their role is to equip their clients with the gear for the trek of their financial lives.
These advisers work hard to create financial models based on available funds.
They monitor the market of available products for the best possible choices.
They prepare cash flow budgets that reflect anticipated spending habits.
They adhere to legislative requirements, source other subject matter experts when needed, and use their experience in implementing similar strategies, which have helped others understand their expected financial destinations.
All these are elements of the essential gear needed for better financial lives.
Trekkers also face a myriad of gear options.
Trek sites are littered with varieties of socks (my favourites), shoes, dry kit, wet kit, maps, poles, packs and apps.
While gear advice is essential, gear advice is different to path advice as once on a path, the value is far less about the gear used and much more about the experience the gear supports.
Trekkers understand the difference between gear and path advice.
Unfortunately, financial trekkers don’t.
The issue for financial trekkers is systemic, as Justice Hayne and others who have run various past industry enquiries and inevitably many more in the future will also find.
As long as Australia’s Corporations Act continues to legislate that financial products and financial advice are synonymous, more Australians will be pushed onto their own compulsory financial path that’s confusing the gear advice with the path advice.
The world of financial trekking is much more than a set of today’s gear and best guesses for tomorrow’s future path.
It is normal and expected for trekkers to get lost.
It is unacceptable that after thirty years of being forced onto their own financial path due to a compulsory superannuation system, most Australians still can’t tell the difference between gear advice and path advice.
What do you reckon?
PS: Anna and I are having a crack at the Portland to Penola Australian Camino in late September and then the UK Wainwright early next year – trekkers? Any tips?
Photo credit: JJS_220715
ABOUT JIM STACKPOOL
For over 30 years, Jim has influenced, coached, and consulted advisory firms across Australia. His consulting firm, Certainty Advice Group coaches, trains and builds advisory firms delivering comprehensive, unconflicted advice, with fees priced purely on value. He is growing a strong and collaborative community of advisory firms aligned on Australia’s only Certification Mark advice standard for comprehensive, unconflicted advice – Certainty Advice. He has authored four books regarding financial advice with his latest – What Price Value – available now since release in March 2022.
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