Which awkward conversation do you want to have?

Stuart Walker

Stuart Walker

Chartered Financial Planner

Life is full of awkward conversations. My 6-year old daughter is on a seemingly never-ending quest to either have, or create, the most awkward conversation possible – with an unerring ability to say the most awkward and/or cringe inducing statement possible in any given situation.

For anyone who is a father to a daughter, I’m sure you can understand what this might be like! Ideally, I would like not to have these conversation but unfortunately that is not how life, or my daughter, work.

From a financial planning perspective, there are also seemingly endless awkward possibilities:

  • The impact of a market fall / crash on someone’s portfolio can be awkward, but hopefully not too surprising as it remains part and parcel of almost every long-term investment strategy.
  • Estate planning where you perhaps do not want or do not trust a relative to inherit your wealth on death; that can be awkward to admit and uncomfortable to plan for but by having the conversation you ultimately gain the peace of mind that your estate will pass in line with your wishes.
  • People going through divorce may want to know what assets they should or should not keep as part of any settlement to give them the best possible long-term outcome. It can be awkward looking at assets accumulated together with self-interest in mind.

Although these are a few of the awkward conversations to have, by far the most common is when it comes to retirement planning.

Recently I was in a meeting with someone who was approaching retirement and they wanted to know if they could retire in a few years’ time. They had not prioritised saving as, in their own words, “We know we should have saved more but we didn’t want to have the conversation about what we would have to give up, by saving more”. However, by avoiding this conversation it led to a further awkward conversation along the lines of, “No, you can’t retire when you want to”, “Will you work longer to fund your retirement?”, “Are you willing to spend less in retirement?” and, “Which of your financial goals are you willing to compromise on?”.

By avoiding the initial conversation of what they would need to do to save for the retirement they wanted, they unwittingly created lots of other awkward conversations that they would then need to have with us, and themselves.

The good thing is that the earlier you have these conversations, the more chance we have of addressing these issues and helping you resolve them, so what awkward conversation have you been putting off and which one do you want to have with your financial planner?

And remember my daughter has got you beat when it comes to awkward conversations.