Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Overview Effect

As Tim Peake blasted off into orbit yesterday, I couldn’t help but be inspired by his journey from pilot to astronaut. It seems that against all the odds, he has achieved what many of us dream of as children (I know I certainly did) and will be one of the lucky few to see the world from a different ‘point of view’.

Space has always fascinated me and I guess it is a sign of our increasingly technological world that one day in my lifetime it may well be possible to travel to space as a fare paying passenger with the likes of Virgin Galactic. A dream that I sincerely hope will become a reality.

Many astronauts report feeling what has been coined the ‘overview effect’ when in outer space. They say that seeing the world in space allows them to see things differently, more clearly. In that moment, they realise that viewed from above, some of those little things that we worry about day-to-day don’t matter. They say that they see how fragile the world seems, when suspended in space as a ‘pale blue dot’.

I think that sometimes all of us could do with experiencing the ‘overview effect’. In our busy lives, there rarely seems time to stop, sit back and really think about what we are doing, where we are going or what it is that’s really important in our lives. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, week-to-week routine of our lives and before we know it, another year has passed.

In my daily meetings with clients, so many people say that having two or three hours of quiet, un-interupted time to talk about them and their goals both financially and in life is, at the very least, highly refreshing and energising and in some cases, even life changing. Our meeting is often the only time in the year that they get that opportunity.

Christmas is one of the few times of the year when most of us get that chance to stop and have some down time to think, plan and consider where we want to go from here. In some cases, it may be that nothing needs to change, in which case thats great and hats off to you. Most of us however, have something that we would like to see improved, goals that we want to work towards or changes that we wish to make in our lives.

The holiday period is the perfect time to review 2015, consider what went well, what could be improved and what to leave in the past.

I wish all of our clients, contacts, professional connections and suppliers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. We look forward to seeing you all in 2016!



The Worst Day in …. A Day??

I have been slightly amused recently by the apparent desperation of financial media outlets to run a ‘panic’ story. The problem the media outlets have is that ‘normal’ does not make a particularly good story.

‘FTSE rises steadily by 0.5% this month as usual’ does not have that much of a ring to it.

You see, we all seem to like bad news stories, ones filled with disaster and fear. Accordingly, this is what the media generally creates.

It is important to remember what the main objective of a media outlet is (that is any media outlet and not just financial ones) and that is, to get you to consume their content, visit their website, read their blogs and, most importantly, see the adverts that they place alongside that content (or pay for it up front). The main objective of a financial media outlet is not to provide you with impartial, balanced views that are likely to enhance your financial decision making. Of course, there are a range of financial media outlets out there that go from the sublime to the completely ridiculous and some do provide useful insight and analysis, however it’s important not to take one view too seriously.

Sidetrack over, back to my point. You see, over the past month or two I have been noticing a trend towards increasingly short term assessments of the markets to generate a ‘panic’ headline. ‘FTSE has its worst week in a month’ was one recent example.

Now, I’m sorry, but a month is not that long in investment terms. In fact a month generally contains 4(ish) weeks. If we assume that the markets are generally random when considered over such short periods of time, surely there is approximately a 1 in 4 chance of every week being ‘the worst week in a month’.

The past few days have been a prime example in my view. Given the recent slip in oil prices, markets have been reacting, sending the FTSE 100 below 6000. Of course, the financial media outlets reacted with horror.

The irony is, these blips tend to be (most of the time) just that, blips. Things recover soon enough and ‘normality’ ensues.

True to form, the headline yesterday: ‘FTSE has best day in over two months’!