The Arkenstone Blog

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Heard the one about the Mexican Fisherman?

As challenging a year as 2020 has been, in the course of my work I’m seeing a marked shift in people’s outlook and what they want for their lives – spending so much time at home has clearly sparked a few deep conversations and sharpened a few minds.

Naturally, money is never too far away from people’s thoughts when they think about what they want for themselves and those they care about. This stands to reason – the decisions we make about our money will either help or hinder us in our pursuit of a better life.

A few of our clients have come to the realisation that their pre-Covid way of life wasn’t the most rewarding, so we’ve started the process of arranging their finances to help bring forward retirement plans, move careers or simply escape the daily commute from Putney to Central London (working from home is obviously helping the latter right now!).

As well as this, we’re helping a number of people buy new homes and move to areas that will offer them a better way of life (quick plug – we now provide mortgage as well as broader financial advice).

And for those in the earlier stages of building their wealth, having a more meaningful chat about their future is helping them get a better handle on what they need to do with their pensions and investments to achieve what they want (the solution in most cases is to invest more and invest better).

The trick with financial planning has always been about working out just how much money is enough. Without some sense of an answer to this question, it’s likely you’ll fall into the seductive but stressful trap of chasing the next buck at the expense of everything else.

It reminds me of the parable about the Mexican Fisherman. I’ve stumbled across this a few times over the years but it always strikes a chord, as (much like the lockdown effect) it always makes me take a step back and reflect on where I’m at and what’s important to me:

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

How long did it take you to catch them?” The American asked.

Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats!”

Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “About 15-20 years.”

But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

Millions, señor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…

If 2020 has got you thinking about what you want for your life, get in touch and we’ll show you how you can create a plan to get there (without an IPO).

Thanks for reading.