Or the pleasures and challenges of retirement planning. When pensions freedoms were first announced from 2015, there was a lot of speculation that people would be overwhelmed by temptation and end up blowing their pensions on fancy cars or exotic holidays.
Of course, the rich tapestry of humanity being what it is, there have been some such examples to excite the tabloids. But either our clients are made of sterner stuff, or these headlines have been not the tip of an iceberg, more occasional passing snowflakes: We have seen no signs of frivolity among clients of KW Wealth!
The world used to be simpler; most people had a guaranteed income for life from employer and state pensions. It would keep pace with inflation but otherwise that was it, for better or worse. When you died the income stopped, possibly with a modest surviving spouse income.
We now have a completely opposite system; most people approach retirement with assets and little or no guaranteed income other than the state pension. We have complete freedom as to when we retire; no employer can require us to stop working on grounds of age. We may take a later life career change or maintain part time work whilst perfecting our golf handicap.
This is a very dramatic social change, and it is one that we are all still getting used to. It offers wonderful scope for enjoyment and fun - even a little frivolity! But it is also a huge responsibility for which most people, understandably, feel ill equipped.
As wealth planners and investment managers, we are steeped in technical knowledge and expertise about everything from pensions regulations and tax to the doings and prospects of world stock markets.
But these days much of our work is in talking to clients about the things they want to do, and helping them work through their plans so that the income is there as and when needed throughout their retirement.
Statistically, most people live longer than they expect. Yet only about one in six people aged over 85 live in a care home. And most people spend less money than they expect in retirement.
Like parenthood, retirement is one of those big life events for which none of us have any prior experience or training. Thankfully, we approach it having mastered some degree of life experience and hopefully the wisdom to err on the side of caution, expect the worst and enjoy the best.
As wealth planners and investment managers, our job above all is to ensure that our clients have the retirement they want and deserve. And eventually to ensure that our clients’ wealth is passed on to future generations in whatever way they wish.
Investment markets are uncertain places - especially at present as we approach what seem to be the later stages of one of the longest periods of sustained growth ever. We try to err on the side of caution whilst protecting the real long term value of our clients’ wealth, and growing it as much as we responsibly can. You can read our latest thoughts in the regular updates published by my colleague Richard Stammers, our chief investment strategist.
But ultimately, our work is as much about helping clients to plan for - and enjoy - their retirement, long term, as it is about staying on top of our professional responsibilities. Money is a means to an end. It has to be there to pay for what’s needed. But without a constructive or enjoyable purpose it is no use at all.
Perhaps a fancy car or exotic holiday is not such a bad idea after all!
The value of investments and any income from them can fall and you may get back less than you invested. KW, KW Wealth, KW Protect, KW Wellbeing, KW Institutional, KW Partner and KW Private Office are trading names of KW Wealth Planning Limited (registered number 01265376), KW Investment Management Limited (registered number 06931664 ) and KW Trading Services Limited (registered number 03109469) which is a member of the London Stock Exchange. Each of these companies is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and has its registered office at 13 Austin Friars London EC2N 2HE. KW investment Management Limited is also regulated in South Africa by Financial Sector Conduct Authority. All these companies are wholly owned subsidiaries of European Wealth Group Limited (registered number 42316) which is incorporated in Guernsey with registered office at Regency Court, Glategny Esplanade, St Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 1WW.