In 1997, Tony Blair’s UK Labour Party romped to an election win to the tune of Things Can Only Get Better (according to Billboard magazine, an ‘incredibly infectious pop hit’).
Right now, when we’re all trying to get over lockdowns, financial shocks – and saying goodbye to the first James Bond, Sean Connery, – it’s a song that could be on everyone’s lips. Things can only get better. Can’t they?
But how can we make things better, when so much seems out of our control? There’s not much Australians can do about, US elections and a global recession.
Except maybe there is.
Sports people talk about ‘controlling the controllables’. Not worrying about the bounce of the ball, but focusing on your training, your fitness, your plans. Perhaps the best way to make things better is for each of us to take back control of the things we can control and the plans we make.
Sounds good in theory – but will it work? Fortunately, we have some research to help us.
In August this year Perpetual interviewed over 3,000 Australians as part of our ongoing 'What do you care about?' 1 research series. We were able to get a feel for what COVID-19, government-mandated lockdowns and the associated problems have done to the plans of ordinary Australians.
“Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”
Our research shows that people are adjusting their plans to cope with the new post-COVID realities. They’re planning to save more and invest more – to get back in front despite the hit COVID-19 has delivered to personal balance sheets.
According to Perpetual Private financial adviser, Tyler Hurley, that’s what good planning is all about. “It’s easy to get obsessed about the financial plan – the document - but financial planning is about having a clear sense of your objectives, working out a strategy to get there and having the mental framework in place to help you adjust your plans when things change.”
“Plans are useless, but planning is essential.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, D-Day commander
If your financial life has been altered by COVID-19, there are a few planning steps you can take to get things back on a better footing.
- Work as a team. It’s important to get your whole family involved. Families have inbuilt diversification. One member might lose their job while another’s is more secure. Whether you’re focused on investing for retirement, rebuilding your savings or dealing with a redundancy, using all your family team’s ‘resources’ can help you plan your way over the hurdles.
- Think long-term. Financial shocks are a good time to reassess your long-term goals (i.e. super and retirement). And because they can cause some plans to change, they’re also a good time to have those sometimes sensitive discussions about wills, estate planning and inheritances.
It’s also important to get expert help. Many people still think the main role of a financial planner is to pick the best investments. But their most vital role is to help people create a strategy, stick to that strategy and adjust it when necessary.
“COVID-19 has naturally affected people’s plans,” says Tyler Hurley. “But as advisers we make sure the overall plan stays on track by asking big questions: Are we still focused on the same goals? Does COVID-19 change our ability to reach those goals? If so, what do we need to change? Alternatively, where do we need to hold the course?”
The value in this ‘review and reassess’ approach is not just that it allows for better, more rational decision making. It’s a process that reduces anxiety. “Clients are happier when there’s a clear plan in place,” says Tyler Hurley. “Just the act of planning for the future makes you less anxious about what it might bring.”
What’s your 2021 vision?
So, as we’re nearing the end of 2020 – an annus horribilis if ever there was one - why not kiss 2020 goodbye by taking control in 2021?
By making new plans for 2021, perhaps as a new Year’s Resolution – you can start the year with a sense of purpose and optimism. And give yourself a chance to prove that 90s hit to be true – things can only get better.
If you’ve started to think about the transfer of wealth within your family – wills, estate planning, family trusts and more – visit our inheritance page here.
Things can only get better
By making new plans for 2021, perhaps as a new Year’s Resolution – you can start the year with a sense of purpose and optimism. And give yourself a chance to prove that 90s hit to be true – things can only get better. If you’d like to talk to an adviser about your financial situation post-Covid please fill in the form below..