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Are you focusing more on your golf than your finances?

Is the chance to spend time on golf or a hobby leaving your finances in a hole? Carlo Lourenco discusses upping your game on the green and better money matters.
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Published 20 August
4 mins

Even for those that think golf is a good walk spoiled, the question as to whether I should spend my free time on a golf course versus spending time on my finances remains a divisive one. On the whole, we, as a nation, find the topic very dull. According to the Financial Times (FT), Brits would rather vacuum or change the bed linen than review their pension1. The lack of focus is often compounded by the number of demands on our time. As such, estate or retirement planning tends to be at the end of a long list of other to-dos. Some demographics have it particularly tough: women with young children (again according to the FT) have less than 17 minutes of ‘me time’ a day, and probably have had even less time with the need to home school. And yet, we always seem to manage to make at least some time for the things we really enjoy.

However, before you stop yourself indulging in a round or two now that golf courses are back open – even if the clubhouses aren’t – I believe that there are some interesting lessons in golf that can be applied to managing your finances.


The average game of golf takes four hours and I can easily double that time travelling to and from the course, as well as the connected socialising – with the appropriate distancing of course. So what are the lessons to learn over those eight hours?


The first of these is that bad shots happen. Every one of us will hit a number of bad shots during a round and, while this is something we can limit with practice, the main approach should be to focus on the next shot and not let yourself be distracted. The volatile nature of equity markets since the start of the pandemic will have flagged to pretty much every investor that markets go down, as well as up, and you may get back less than the total you originally invested. What is key, however, is that you don’t focus on what’s just happened and divert your attention from your long-term objectives.

Another tip I have picked up is that professional players go through a routine before making a shot. This routine is designed to help them think through the shot and achieve a better performance. Investors too can develop a routine ahead of any financial plays. As such, any decisions you act on will have been properly thought through, and are made with your overall financial strategy and risk tolerances front of mind. And they might lead you to work out that a stock tip shared on a green could be too good to be true.

As you become better at golf, you realise that every shot you make is down to getting the fundamentals of grip, stance and alignment right. Small issues such as too tight a grip or knees that are too straight can throw off your swing. Fundamentals play a big part in finances too. Some of these fundamentals are ones that only professional investors may use to their advantage – such as rolling three-year stock price averages – but others are easier to check off. Are you taking enough risk, for example, to achieve your financial goals over the long term? Lots of investors worry a lot about market risk and perhaps not enough about longevity risk. Once you identify any potential problems with the fundamentals, you can make any necessary adjustments and get back on course.

Finding your own ‘zone’ can also help. When a professional golfer is playing well, they have often blocked out the noise of the crowd by being in their zone. While the ‘quiet please’ notices are not needed, there is always going to be some noise to cause distraction. Investors also need to be able to shut out the noise of the financial news headlines, most of which are there to sell newspapers and drive advertising rather than inform decisions. It is important to focus on the substance of the fundamentals and not the noise.


Last, but not least, even after all of their success, top professional golfers still regularly work with their coaches and listen to their guidance. And while many investors think they are at the top of their game, it is still worth continual conversations to ensure that the effects of their personal biases are minimised, identify long-term aims and develop a bespoke wealth plan to help them reach their financial goals and objectives, without taking too many cut shots.

 

These lessons may not make the grade as far as my wife is concerned, but if I can convince her the time spent on golf is helping our financial affairs too, then I will hopefully be able to play a few more rounds – before getting all the DIY jobs done.

Clients of Nedbank Private Wealth can get in touch with their private banker directly to understand how wealth planning can help them achieve their financial goals and objectives, or call +44 (0)1624 645000 to speak to our client services team.


Source: (1) FT, 1 June 2018


If you would like to find out more about how we can help you with wealth planning support, please contact us on the same number as above, or complete the contact us form using the link below.

 

Any examples of investments and structures used are for illustrative purposes only. The inclusion does not constitute an invitation or inducement to buy any financial investment or service. None of the content constitutes advice or a personal recommendation. Individuals should seek professional advice, based on their jurisdiction and personal circumstances, before making any financial decision.

about the author

Carlo Lourenco

Carlo Lourenco

Carlo joined the London office in 2010, and has 20 years’ experience managing the complex affairs of high-net-worth clients. He takes pride in developing close relationships with his clients and intermediaries by listening and always placing their interests and needs at the forefront of his thinking.

 

Prior to joining Nedbank Private Wealth, Carlo worked for 10 years at Coutts & Co.  He is a Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment.

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