Friends were hiking on some hilly terrain which would be challenging at times. Their goal was to reach the top, at least as far as they could see it. Along the way were steep climbs, occasional declines, with twists and turns to navigate the upward journey. Also there were places to rest along the way. Sometimes a voice would be heard wanting to quit or turn back but with encouragement and a trusted guide they all pushed forward.
HIKING, INVESTING, & BONFIRE CHATS.
I could suggest this trip was in Mount Revelstoke National Park with Virginia and me in 2018 as you see pictured here showing part of the pathway and our goal at the peak. We’ve always enjoyed exploring, including sections of the Bruce Trail in Ontario, South Beach at Tofino in BC, Skerwink in Nfld, Mount Megantic in Quebec, and much more.
In fact though, the hiking group I’m speaking of took a different journey entirely, and if you follow my metaphor it was actually the path that investments took in post-2008 meltdown to 2015. Here in green (below) is a profile picture of the hike or journey so you can see clearly. On this journey however, there was never a time you could know whether the pathway immediately ahead was going to peak, plateau, or plummet. I mentioned a voice might be heard wanting to quit or turn back. This especially happened in 2010 and again in 2011: news media were threatening storms, and looking back on gains since 2008 persuaded some that they had already reached a peak. This is the value of a trusted guide as I was able to answer such concerns to assure there was plenty of ground ahead and much more to gain and enjoy by staying on this journey. Now of course it makes sense: there was never a time that people would have gained by leaving the path. We continue forward together, and today we still promise to take care and lead you safely onward.
Two lessons we can draw from this. First, it’s never possible to know whether the next step for investments will be a temporary peak, a plateau, or brief precipice. We live with this lack of knowledge by following principles which have proven safe in protecting the journey. News media are a bit of noise as they exist mainly to sell advertising; bad news pays more than good news. We know that by maintaining and following your certified financial plan and investment mandates, your journey ahead will reward you to sustain the life and goals you choose.
Secondly, this season may be like moments of 2010 and 2011 when news reports arise out of fear, and a voice now and again expresses a wish to turn back or jump off. But don’t do that, because we are still in the early stages of a global economic recovery. Look at the green profile where you see 2010 and 2011 and decide for yourself if you should get off there. Or the Revelstoke pictures; if choosing whether to terminate on the path or at the peak, clearly consider that the most rewarding view is from the top! There are endless troubles in the world today: some arise from China but there are many others; also national debts and confusion among governments; how to unwind the financial stimulus that has lifted economies during covid, plus the delta variant which is filling intensive care units. All that aside, the economic cycle we measure today – or the stage we’re at today — represents early-to-mid cycle and leaves enormous growth for the years in front of us.
If we could compare where we are today, I would say it’s very much like mid-2010. Consumers are healthy, corporate earnings are extremely strong, employment is improving, three-quarters of our population is vaccinated against future waves of covid. No doubt the path will decline at times, perhaps with future waves of covid with working / schooling-from-home. And there may be periodic jitters when financial stimulus gets tapered in Canada and elsewhere.
What is absolutely certain is this: the path will continue onward. Today does not represent any kind of peak in terms of future values. Best to stay on the path, enjoy the journey.
FLEXIBLE CAREER & RETIREMENT: WORK & LEISURE.
On a related theme, career and retirement can be likened to hiking life’s journey. Once upon a time people worked until they died. Under Bismarck, Germans gained retirement at age 70 when average lifespan was only 40. In the 1900s retirement become more accessible with the development of pensions and savings plans. Typically people worked with one employer and retired in their mid-60s, living on pension and savings for another five to fifteen years.
By the 1990s people started to feel their retirement goals differed from their parents. People created new work-patterns, whether forced by job-losses or to enhance personal freedom and fulfillment. We realize today, many could have seven or more jobs and employers in their working life. With the “gig economy” one could have multiple jobs at the same time, perhaps while self-employed. This comes with risks and opportunities, fewer pension opportunities but greater freedom to design your experience of learning and career.
In May I announced the Lifestyle and Retirement Poll. Click and enjoy if you haven’t already. Our June and summer letters touched on your response to the first three questions. Here today are responses you contributed on the question of Flexible Career and Retirement Planning – redesigning work and leisure. Have a look: where do you see yourself here?
One-fifth say they haven’t thought much yet on this subject. This could arise especially among our younger clients whose focus is on early-career development, who to spend their life with, whether and when to start a family. Future career and retirement will gain importance as the years continue.
Near two-fifths are already retired but they enjoy hearing other peoples’ fresh ideas. A reason for this is that many of our clients have already retired and are enjoying their post-career lifestyle. Some however were forced to retire before they felt ready. Others may want to work in some manner if they have found retirement lacking in mental stimulation and social activity. We explore other reasons too in Your Retirement, the Halton Retirement Study.
Our biggest group of responses (43%) indicate Flexible Career and Retirement Planning is very important. Here I’d love to get us around a big round table (or bonfire at one of the rest spots along our hike) to explore what this can mean to each one of us, because each of us will have personal views on what makes this important to us. Here are some of the thoughts we could hear from one another:
- Still active in a career you realize the world is changing so quickly, and you have an independent mindset in guiding your career and future retirement dreams. You might have considered taking a few months or a sabbatical year to travel, re-energize, and refocus certain priorities in your life. Live and breathe, work and renew, learn and refocus, pause and re-engage. You can direct your life in a way that no generation has done before. Health, satisfaction, personal fulfilment and enjoyment can all increase with this new flexibility in your life/work balance.
- Retirement can be personalized to your own lifestyle choices, financial resources you have built, and the health to enjoy your time (see 25 ideas below). Some of what we’d hear around the table or bonfire may include:
 It took a year to clear my mind and settle my blood pressure. Doctors and family said stress was going to kill me if I didn’t retire. Or it was the boredom that had crept into my work. Part of me was already dying and the rest would be gone too if I didn’t open a new chapter in life.
 The greatest thing in my retirement has been “time with family”, finding each other at a deeper level and enjoying Also traveling to see those who are farther away. There was a trip to Disney, or a cottage, and other places we’ve visited when our kids could get time away together for a week. These are memories we will cherish forever.
 Other travels we never had time for while working: an exotic place or two, and so much to experience where the sights, sounds, tastes and more would be fresh and different than anything we have at home.
 A more relaxed schedule (consulting/working 10 -20 hours a week?) while putting a solid 40 hour week into favourite activities: home renewal, sculpture or painting, golf or pickle ball, musical events and gatherings, cycling or swimming… The list could be endless so circle or highlight some of the following, then add ten more of your own design.
25 WAYS TO EXPAND RETIREMENT:
- Afternoon nap.
- Courses from college, university, art centre, or The Great Courses.
- Tour ten countries by youtube, then prepare trips to two of them.
- Learn a new musical instrument or practice another
- Borrow at least two books a month from the public library.
- More visits with family – even rediscover some distant cousins.
- Select some new restaurants where you haven’t yet eaten.
- Of the 50 places to hike nearby, which ones have you missed?
- Parts of Canada you haven’t seen: east, west, north – where next?
- Volunteer with a group or charity that could brighten your life.
- Say ‘hi’ to neighbours – gradually turn strangers into friends.
- Review the high school GED to relearn and explore what’s new.
- Choose some museums and art galleries to visit this year ahead.
- What cities would you like more time in: why, and doing what?
- Six places you can fly to, and what you’re most eager to do there.
- Two oceans you’ve never seen: can you build a trip on that theme?
- Sponsor a child or family: eg. visit the World Vision website.
- Kite surf, kayak, canoe, sail, RV or camp: who is there with you?
- Twelve more reasons and times to put flowers on the table.
- Four events: sports, festivals, theatre, to attend this next season.
- Write a story (fact or fiction), poems, or a memoire of earlier life.
- Family history: gather dates, people, stories of your genealogy.
- Start a new business, or mentor family/others in a new business.
- Healthy exercises for body, mind, spirit: explore and enjoy.
- Mid-day nap, like on Sundays but any day you choose.
It’s not cheating to put naps twice in the above list. Naps are handy in an active and balanced retirement lifestyle. It means though, feel free to replace #25 with a new idea. Then ponder ten fresh new items YOU can add. I’ll be eager if you would share these with me.
Yours in Financial Security for LIFE!
Brian Weatherdon, MA, CFP, CLU, CPCA. 905-637-3500
627 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ont. L7R 3M7. 1-877-937-3500
Certified Financial Planner, Certified Retirement Coach
** This monthly letter touches on key strategies in Canadian and global investing and financial planning. This letter is not an offer to sell any kind of security, insurance, or program. Historical returns and risk measures are not a valid guide to future performance. Returns are from publicly available sources and research from a variety of firms including but not limited to Canada Life, CIBC, Dynamic, Mackenzie Financial, RBC / PH&N, and more. Opinions in this letter belong solely to the author and no other body is responsible for the content expressed here. We value opportunity to coordinate with your legal and accounting advisers to further your financial goals in home and business. We are grateful always to receive your comments and questions.