Since moving to regional Victoria, I’ve spent a lot more time driving on freeways. And thanks to our mistress La Nina those drives have invariably involved showers at different levels of torrential.
Driving along dark highways as rain belts down, makes the importance of a clean windscreen thrillingly apparent.
(By the by, I’m nearly 40, with two kids – I don’t want any part of my drive to be ‘thrilling’!)
While hunching over the wheel, with white knuckles strangling the windscreen and short breaths fogging up the glass makes the trip zoom by – nothing like total concentration to make the time fly! – it’s more worrying than I’m really looking for.
Driving with a Dirty Windscreen
One of those nights, as I was steaming up a hill next to a terrifyingly large semi-trailer spouting water into my lane, I realised something.
Driving with a dirty windscreen is a pretty good description of how many of our clients feel when we first meet them.
People don’t engage a financial adviser when they’re clear on where they’re going, what they’re doing and why it’s happening.
No, they engage us when they have an unresolved question, or worry, on their mind. When the future is unclear, or the ‘right’ decision is a mystery.
In other words, when their own windscreen is dirty.
You Can’t Avoid What You Can’t See
And when you’re terrified about doing the wrong thing, or taking the wrong choice, not being able to see ahead of makes your anxiety and stress jag upwards.
Because there you are, speeding along into your future. Sometimes it’s your foot on the pedal, but often when we meet people it’s not – somebody else is dictating how quickly they’re moving.
Plus, you might not even know where you’re driving.
Maybe you do, but again for most people we meet, life has become about dealing with obstacles a metre at a time – not knowing the destination 100 kilometres away.
So, thanks to the muck obscuring your windscreen, you might feel like you’re speeding along with no idea what’s in front of them.
It’s all shadows and worries and invisible dangers in front of you.
As you drive at top speed.
With somebody else’s foot on the pedal.
That’s frightening enough.
Driving By Feel
But you also can’t tell if you’re still even on the road.
I mean, you can normally feel when you’re still on the road. But with a dirty windscreen, you can never be entirely sure.
Because you can’t see where you’re going, so you’re driving by ‘feel’. And, really, who wants to spend their entire life driving by feel?
Never having confidence in what’s happening, never being able to prepare for what’s coming, never feeling in control?
It’s a corrosive way to live, and will eat away at your financial confidence.
(Re)Acting By Instinct
Then there’s the traffic – the trucks coming up unexpectedly on the outside, or the distracted early-indicator treating the speed limit as the merest hint of a suggestion.
The road works, road blocks and pot holes.
They all catch you by surprise.
And you react, in the moment, to avoid the danger. Your decisions are driven by instinct, fear or impulse, not strategy or planning.
Instead of being able to slowly steer around the obstacles you saw miles back, you’re forced to swerve one way (“crypto!”), then another (“borrowing in your SMSF!”).
There’s always the risk of the back end sliding out, especially if it’s raining recessionary pressures on your road.
Leaping at these gimmicks puts you at risk of losing control completely – and distracts you from the reality that you can’t plan for what’s coming, because you simply can’t see it through your dirty windscreen.
And, occasionally, you smash right into the brick wall of financial reality.
Good advice can help you avoid this, by doing one thing – cleaning your windscreen.
Imagine being able to see the road you’re on. Know about the road works miles in advance so you can prepare for them. Know that you’re on track at all times.
Map out your journey, see clearly into the distance, with new wipers and a reservoir full of water (with a smidge of windex for good measure).
THIS is what good advice does. It gives you that clarity and transparency about your financial trajectory.
So, if you’re sick of winging it and worrying about running up the arse of a semi-trailer – think about getting financial advice!