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I've been sharing the following idea with people for a few years now, and realized recently that I had never written specifically about it. So here it is:
"I cannot predict the future."
That may seem simple enough, and it's certainly accurate, yet for many advisors, this edict is completely disregarded. How many times have you heard someone say, "I know," when what they really meant was, "I guess?" In stating that I cannot predict the future, my intention is not to appear pessimistic. On the contrary, I agree with what Roosevelt had to say about the issue; "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." I therefore believe that we can accomplish just about anything. Nevertheless, believing anything is possible is far more grounded in reality than believing that I could know, with any precision, how everything will ultimately unfold. And so with that much clear, I would like to share what I do not know about our collective financial futures.
I do not know which segment of the market will outperform all others during this year, or any year.
I do not know if this year's equity market will be up, down, volatile, or stagnant.
I do not know what our tax system will look like in ten, twenty, or thirty years.
I do not know what the rate of inflation will be, or what the rise in housing will be, or college tuition, or gas, or bottled water.
I do not know if age expectancies will continue to increase or begin to decrease.
I do not know how the United States will fare in competition with the rapidly developing markets of other nations.
While it may appear that I don't know much, here's what I do know:
I can presume, in a careful manner, certain long-term expectations. And if I am successful in helping my clients understand and appreciate those expectations, I would hope to maximize their full financial potential.
I am able (and willing) to respond to change. Ask any advisor who's been doing it for fifty years what he thinks about change, and he's likely to tell you his way is the best way, always was, and always will be.
I believe there is a close-to-perfect approach to meeting the goals of each client, and I spend great effort, in every instance, to find out what that is. Each individual, each family, each small business owner has their own attributes, and I am ever-present to the notion of finding a common ground.I always attempt to write about topics that transcend finance. Money is allegorical-how you save and spend both your time and your energy will often correlate with how you manage your finances. What I do not know about the future therefore also transcends economics, and so I approach everything with an open mind. Do you?
© 2005 Matthew S. Clement, All rights reserved
Matthew S. Clement is a financial planner and investment advisor representative with Financial Network Investment Corporation, member SIPC. He provides holistic wealth management and retirement planning to individuals and businesses. He can be reached in New York at (845) 942-8578, or by email: ClementM@FinancialNetwork.com.