My family and I recently returned from a Disney vacation. Despite the prevalence of mouse ears on almost every surface, shirt and head, I noticed an item that even more people had on display. Everywhere I turned, someone had their phone out to record a character, a castle, a ride or even in some cases, a squirrel. I often unintentionally walked through pictures, and witnessed many people bumping into one of our strollers or walking into the street because they were only watching their screen.
I’ve seen the same behavior at concerts. Instead of cigarette lighters, camera phone lights shine throughout the arena during the show. YouTube has plenty of videos of concert clips, parade floats and Mickey Mouse sightings to keep us entertained for hours. Why do we then feel so compelled to video every step of our lives?
Social media has created a way for us to show our friends what we’re up to ( Look at me checking in at the five star restaurant in Vegas!) or let your friends know what great seats you have for the Garth Brooks concert. Is that really a picture that you’ll get developed, enlarged and framed?
Viewing these events through our smartphone screens condenses our view and distracts us from what’s actually happening. If you’re focused on recording the fireworks display or live tweeting an episode of your favorite sitcom, are you really enjoying them? You can only see what’s happening on within the angle of the screen. We’re too consumed on capturing the moment rather than basking in it, and we are distracted by the limited view, rather than focusing on the entire picture.
The same holds true with financial planning. It’s easy for people to focus on certain aspects of their financial plan, typically investment performance. Market information is ever present in the media and often misused by investors to monitor their financial health. There’s an app that will give you your account balance on command, but that information is very limiting as a component of your overall financial goals. That doesn’t cover questions like “what do you want your retirement to look like?” or “how much money will you spend each month when you stop working?” or “how would you react if your account values dropped by 25%?”
Understanding client motivations, fears and desires sits at the crux of providing prudent counsel. There’s not an app for that.
You wouldn’t drive a car down the interstate looking only through an iPhone screen. You shouldn’t look at your financial future, or your life, in the same way. If you need some help in focusing on your overall picture rather than what’s on the screen, give us a call.
It’s okay, you can use your smartphone for that.