Same Destination, Different Advice

Last week I boarded a plane headed to Kansas City to give a financial planning talk. When I fly I like to listen to music. If it were up to me I would listen from gate to gate. But when the plane taxis, takes off and lands, we are asked to “Please turn off all electronic devices.” This typically upsets me. Actually this always upsets me, but this time I was glad to be upset. The two men sitting to my left were in the investment business. I picked this up very quickly as they talked about industry metrics and trends, or to put it another way, things we advise our clients not to worry about.

Listening to their conversation made me smile inside. It made me smile figuratively because their clients were going to get much different advice than my audience. When the captain announced we could turn our electronic devices back on, I kept my volume low so I could still hear their conversation. They continued to debate how to approach their meeting:

“We should begin with P/E ratios.”

“No, we should start with revenues!”

“Maybe we shouldn’t lead-off with that stuff, let’s start them out with Jim Cramer’s recent thoughts on the market.”

“I didn’t read that yet.”

“You didn’t read his recent article?”

“Not yet.”

I then turned my music up and smiled for real. They had no plan and were focusing on the wrong things – those that are not controllable. While they argued on how to approach their meeting, I was able to enjoy the flight and listen to music. I had a game plan. I understand what items have a direct impact on financial success (risk, costs, taxes, how much you save and spend, etc.) or to put it another way, things we advise our clients to concentrate on.

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