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Life at Sea

In 2002, I was lucky enough to travel the world. On one stop I stayed in New Zealand with family friends who, 25 years prior, had set sail from the UK on a catamaran to explore the world. Their journey took them to many destinations, on many adventures, and eventually to New Zealand where they settled. Their story fascinated me as at the time they had three children, the youngest of whom was still a toddler. I remember Rick, the father, saying to me, “You soon realise how much you are in the hands of the ocean and all its power when your small boat takes off on a huge ocean wave with all of your family on board.”

On my return to the UK in 2003, I started working as a financial adviser. As a surfer and lover of the ocean, their story has remained with me as a key analogy to life, an analogy I would like to share with you.

In life, we are all at sea, in our own metaphorical catamaran, some on our own, some with family. Planning our journey at sea tells us a lot about how we should plan for our life journey. At sea, you need a destination; maybe not a final destination (Rick certainly had no plan to live in New Zealand when they left the UK, and in fact, they lived in many countries on the way), but they did have a course set and knew which direction they were heading. Without direction, you can end up anywhere or nowhere. You might get lucky, you might not. You can end up back where you started, completely lost, or never leave the harbour in the first place. So setting your direction and laying out goals, however likely they are to change, sets you on your way.

Like the financial markets, the ocean has many moods, tides, winds, and currents. Sometimes it’s calm, sometimes stormy. It can be exciting and rewarding, and then change, almost without warning, and become unwelcoming and forbidding. The ocean runs through cycles of rising and falling tides and the currents and wind can help you, or they can pull you off course. With your family onboard, you need to understand if it’s the right journey for you, before you set sail. You need to know how to navigate the ocean's many moods, how to take advantage of the tides, winds, and currents, and more importantly, know what to expect.

If your boat is built to withstand even the roughest storm, you know what to expect, you have your safety gear in place and aren’t going to jump ship, then you can be confident that your family is safe. The storm may not be pleasant, but it will simply be an expected part of your planned journey and it may even help you, the strong winds and currents propelling you faster toward your destination. With guidance and forecasts, you can navigate the eye of the storm, but in the great ocean, it is almost impossible to avoid every storm. Even if you stay in the harbour, or on dry land, there is no guarantee you’ll avoid all storms. Be prepared, set expectations, have the right boat, make sure your course takes you through an ocean that matches your willingness to ride out the worse storm it can throw at you, and make sure you have your safety equipment and emergency plan in place, which is the next part of your journey plan.

With your family on board, before you leave the harbour you’re going to want to make sure your safety checks are complete. Life rafts and life jackets. These are your insurance policies. Even with all the correct planning and course setting, emergencies, accidents, and even death can occur. At sea, if this happens, you don’t want to reach for your life raft and realise you didn’t buy one because you didn’t think there would be a problem. Like insurance, you don’t buy a life raft hoping you’ll use it, you hope you never will. You hope, in a way, it is a wasted purchase. But you would never set sail without one, or your family could be left stranded. If you were the navigator and captain, they may have to sell the boat to fund their lives. If the boat did not survive, then they could face real-life difficulties and be stuck in the ocean storms without buoyancy.

Before Rick left the shores of the UK, he used experts to help him guide and plan. He knew he needed help with the boat design, navigation, and weather reports; someone to offer invaluable assistance through the inevitable unforeseen. He knew his strengths, and with the right help and his radio, he kept his family safe, they had an awe-inspiring adventure. His family now live successful lives as captains of their own boats. This is true both literally and metaphorically.

The takings from Rick's journey and the one that lies ahead for all of us are:

  • Plan a course, it doesn’t need to be set in stone
  • Understand, expect, and be prepared for what lies ahead
  • Make sure you are taking risks that you can stomach
  • Be confident your plan is robust and can handle even the worst storm
  • Make sure you have your protection in place and your family is safe
  • Draw from experts and have your trusted advisers at hand to guide you and offer advice when you need it

Life is an adventure. With the right planning and expert guidance, you can navigate a path for yourself, keep your family safe, and enjoy the future together.

This material is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Additionally, you should consult with your Financial Advisor, Tax Advisor, or Attorney on your specific situation. The views expressed in the material are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of any market, regulatory body, State or Federal Agency, or Association. All efforts have been made to report or share true and accurate information. However, the information may become materially outdated or otherwise rendered incorrect due to subsequent new research or other changes, without notice. The author nor the firm are able to always verify the content from third-party sources. For additional information about the firm, please visit the MAS Website at https://www.mas.gov.sg/  and the SEC Website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. For a copy of the firm's ADV Part 2 Brochure, please contact us at info@avriowealth.com.