How do We Compare to our Peers?

Admittedly, I am new to the Social Media world. While I still haven’t decided where this world fits into my practice, I thought it could be a good way to share some thoughts, some ideas, and some strategies that could benefit you and some pitfalls to help you avoid. I hope you enjoy my first article in what I intend to be a whole series of (presumably) wildly beneficial articles.

Over 19 years in this industry I have seen a lot of different situations and no matter how many times I see those same situations and hear the same questions, I know I will see them and hear them again. Everything old is new again and every few years there is a new crop of adults/professionals/business owners starting to build their own financial futures. The situations they face and the questions they have are the same as those that came before them but we continue to try and reinvent the wheel. In the spirit of trying to help you benefit from the wheel that has already been discovered, I will try to answer some of the classic questions for you from time to time, hopefully before you’ve had to ask them yourself. I thought I would start with probably the most frequently asked question I get:

How are we doing, you know, compared to other people our age?

It’s human nature. We all want to know how we shape up compared to our peers. We are conditioned early on in life to evaluate our successes and our failures relative to those around us of similar age/occupation/family status, etc. What we are looking to hear when we ask that question is for someone to say to us, “I have looked at how you have done in building your wealth and, compared to other couples your age, you have amassed the same or more wealth than they have.” From that answer we are able to sleep at night and think that we’ve  been doing the things we’ve needed to do and that everything is alright. In reality, the answer to that question has never been less important in your life than it is in the arena of financial success.

If an advisor had the survey statistics, and I don’t know why they would, to be able to tell you that you have more money than your peers, then the only thing the advisor can reasonably tell you is that you are in a better position to achieve their goals than they (your peers) are. To have more money than your neighbour may be comforting but that information does not tell you anything about how prepared you are to meet your own goals. It’s like being on the highway, looking at the car next to you and assuming that the people in that car are in exactly the same position as you – that they’ve left their home at the same time as you, that they are needing to drive at the same speed as you, that they are heading for the same destination as you and that they have the same amount of time as you do to reach it. Doesn’t sound very likely, does it?

We have to ask a better question. The question that we need to start asking is, “how are we doing, relative to achieving our goals?” That is the question that starts us down the right road to discovering what road map we need to be following to get where we are going. And if you are asking that question of your advisor, and I hope that you are, as a person that goes out into the world without wearing Kevlar, I selfishly ask you not the shoot the messenger. The job of your advisor is to tell you honestly where you are on the path toward achieving the goals you have identified and to help you determine if you need to give your plan more gas, if you can afford to ease off the pedal a little and enjoy the scenery, if you are on the right highway to get there or if you’re even in the right vehicle. A good advisor will help you to determine what you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first, brief, contribution to the world of social media and I wish great success to you and your family.

This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Michael Larocque is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an IG Wealth Management Consultant.