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How I Stopped Being Obsessed with Financial Correctness

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

The End of Money Maverick - For Now.

I lost my laptop and two clients earlier in August, and someone said that I look like s***.

I've certainly felt like that. Some feedback recently has been like that.

I’ve never considered myself a hard-sell, so it just looks like my standards for hard selling simply went up. Was it because I know more and more? Maybe. That knowledge that was meant to help others has become my boon.

I've tried to forgive myself, but it's hard.

For example, recently I created a low risk diversified portfolio plan for someone who was originally going with an endowment plan.

It would have made this prospect $38,000 more net of fees in 10 years for barely any additional risk, and 6 figures more by the 20th year with a passive income.

Naturally, I was pushy about it. The math supported this decision, and I was already taking on a lower commission.

After some 'research' - which was also done wrongly, based on what was being said - the client disappeared, not wanting to hear any more protests.

I was not given the opportunity to meet these people to explain significant details - like asset allocation or parts of the product summary that looked unfavorable.

No - instead I was supposed to settle for the fact that online opinions were more logical than the hours of work and years of professional experience that I'd put in on the client's behalf.

That I was just another consultant, probably a greedy one, and I wasn't anything more than the product I was offering.

Correcting...Well, Everybody

A higher number of thumbs up on a Facebook response, is better than statistically correct advice. And it's been eating away at me for a year now.

I’m less patient, almost angry when someone does something that hurts themselves.

Most people who give financial advice freely don’t have to worry about these things. I wrote that in the beginning, way back when I started Money Maverick.

And its tiring. It's been so tiring for such a long time that I've basically gone through correcting almost everything I can think of, in the last year of writing this blog.

10) People who are Leceh, and maybe the government (but also not the government)

11) Poor People (Not as bad as it sounds)

15) Myself

19) Robos

Not to mention, prominent figures in this community.

3) Budget Babe (though it was really for things like using a par fund table to illustrate how much she didn't like ILPs, not this article)

8) Seedly

I even had time to toss out my single line analysis on how dangerous REITs were in a personal article.

I slam around everybody, with no exceptions - including myself. Especially myself.

Of course, if you actually read through the links - most are in good hearted jest.

And I've been happy making friends or gaining respect from seasoned investors who aren't in my field.

But yeah. Out of less than 60 articles, almost half of them have been dedicated to correcting someone to a small degree...or completely.

If we define correct as ‘Financially Manageable, saves more, earns more and has the best long term results for your future’…

…Then I am obsessed with being correct.

It's a little sad, like being an angry old man yelling at kids from a porch.

There are a lot of reasons for obsessing:

1) Building a decent reputation that’s typically marred by youth, the occasional unkempt appearance and lack of financial background

2) The risk of losing my license if I misrepresent something

3) The consequences to the client if I’m wrong about something

4) Staying competitive in an industry that is constantly finding new ways to regulate me, for black sheep which are ruining the general reputation of my profession and for people who are trying to eat my share of business

5) Recognizing a huge opportunity cost for people who have the means and resources to achieve amazing results, but don’t have the risk tolerance for it

If I get it wrong, you end up with some of the above scenarios.

Clients i) don't get as much as they should, or they ii) pay more than they should - and they write iii) good options off without any proper thought.

Some of these small decisions can put them in a completely different tax bracket or create an entirely new life for them and their loved ones.

If $50,000 could change some people's lives radically, imagine 6 or 7 figures.

The End of Financial Correctness

Eventually, after talking to some of my oldest clients - I realized that...I've basically finished yelling at everyone.

Sure, my intentions started off good. They might still be good. But I'd already yelled at everyone for whatever reason required.

That was over.

What's next? Not much, really.

In a few years, more of these things online will be MAS regulated. People won't be able to give advice so freely or so recklessly, especially fellow consultants.

It'll be decades before people can quantify whether such as system was truly more useful than harmful - though I'm obviously on the latter, much like how any miscalculation on iQuadrant's part won't kick in until much later.

And I looked into a screen and saw myself.

After slamming people for a year, and even longer before this blog - I was really the only one left.

It's like they say - point a finger at someone, 4 more point back at you.

I'd been critical of myself before. Objective. But something was different.

I looked at the young man in the mirror - younger. Fitter. Better dressed. More nervous. A shiny pen that his mother gave him, and still going to appointments at McDonalds in a blazer like a moron in hot weather.

A poor boy dressed to impress, who knew nothing.

Immediately, I was annoyed.

That was not me. I was actually disciplined. Hardworking. Resilient. An Achiever.

He opened his mouth to protest, and I was aghast.

This is wrong. I yelled. That's wrong too.

That dividend is not a yield. That's not what NAV means. Level is not guaranteed. Whole Life Riders are Whole Life, they don't expire with the Multiplier.

Cumulative yields aren't annualized. Yield to Maturity isn't like that. Sharpe Ratios should be high, not low. Volatility isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Asian Bonds don't behave like Global Bonds, or even SG Bonds. Not all TPD definitions are by the 3ADLs. The definitions of that Cancer plan are limited, it might not meet her needs. That investment isn't as safe as you think.

I felt like screaming.

What are you doing? How are you making so many mistakes?

...How many people will be hurt because of your mistakes?

The young me looked defensive. Hurt.

I'm just trying my best.

Well, it's not enough. I pointed out. You have to be correct, or people suffer.

My eyes darted back to a first year client's portfolio. Not just one, but several of them.

Most of my recent clients have had a successful portfolio that almost looks ridiculous.

But my first few clients was still average, or even negative, even after the last few months - and even against the market of that time, they were not performers.

That? That is your fault. We should have waited until we were better at this stuff.

We should have waited until the people who took such a huge risk on you - would get the benefit of your service, not have a worse result than someone who waited for a more complete product.

The young me looks back with a hint of sadness.

Are we? Are we a more complete product?

The illusion in my head ends, and I'm alone in the office on a weekend night.

After spending so much time correcting people, debating people, trying, testing, saving and scrimping and failing to learn from the markets - I am better at investing. I am better at insurance.

There's no doubt anymore, if there ever was.

I am more than qualified to correct some people. And most importantly - I can produce results.

But...I'm not sure if I became a better consultant.

The young me's rules moving forward in this career were very simple, especially because he had no clue how it was going to go. Whether he would succeed or fail, it didn't matter.

Did I show the client that I respected their position (in life) and their opinions?

...Like their fears, their worries, the consideration that they were changing a way of life in a permanent way that spanned decades?

Did I do my best to provide sufficiently useful advice and recommendations with all the information I had available?

...Or did I shorthand it because I knew what I was doing, even if they didn't?

Did I put the client’s interests above my own?

...Did I really, always, put them before me? 100 out of 100 times, or only 99?

The End of Money Maverick - For Now

I'm still trying to relearn these things.

My younger self was not competent. He was not. Other people online may not be as well.

Why bother correcting them?

I never threw my ethics away. But I did take on a lot of pride.

Even if external factors are difficult or other people are being stupid - two wrongs don't make a right.

Besides, it's not my job to be amazing at everything.

It's important to be competent, but I was to be a consultant first and well - whatever this is, if necessary.

So forget the being right. Forget the hard selling.

The ex consultants, the 1st year consultants who have reached out to me - asked to meet me over tea, who've been inspired by my work - you've inspired me back, to stop getting in over my head just because I know a little more.

Thank you.

I'll be going to Penang with my family for a break and some reflection, but until then - the blog will be dead on my end.

By the time I get back, the blog will be rebranded into something different.

And maybe then, so will I.

Money Maverick

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