By Libby Wildman
Travelling to new countries is a lot like the ups and downs of life and managing our life’s expectations.
I recently took my three oversized toddlers (ages 21, 25 and 26) to Spain for eight days. It was our first trip together in years and I was desperate to have everything go smoothly. I started to plan the trip with the hope of finding the perfect spots and the most fun guides; I went to Trip Advisor to find super-cool experiences that we would all enjoy — a tall order, given, like all families, we are all completely different people who happen to like and love each other and are from the same clan.
We all love eclectic places to stay as opposed to five-star hotels, so I invested a number of hours looking at home-rental apps and I started to get overwhelmed. How will I possibly make all the right decisions, know that I am not being scammed and feel comfortable if something goes wrong, I have a good back-up plan? Questions like COVID-19 rules, minimum stays and which neighbourhoods we wanted to be in were daunting. I finally had an epiphany.
There are people who create and curate trips for just this sort of occasion and reason. I wondered how much that would cost me. Will they understand my tastes and the likes and personalities of my kids?
I reached out to a friend who works at Truffle Pig and got introduced to their Spanish expert, a gentleman named Sebastian. I then made sure to take the time to describe all of us, what we like, what kind of food we eat, how we prefer kitschy over five-star hotels, and that adventure and being in nature was a must. Then we got to the money part. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be a “big enough” client to warrant Sebastian’s attention and hard work planning this important family trip.
I realized that without being honest about my budget and where I was willing to spend more (such as tickets to the Real Madrid game!), he couldn’t possibly plan a trip I would be comfortable with. Important information on things like wanting an apartment and not a hotel, so that I could be under one roof with my kids and not have to meet in the lobby to see them came out as Sebastian was very thorough in asking the right questions and getting to know us.
“ IT’S A DECISION THAT SHOULD CREATE PEACE OF MIND. THE PEOPLE AND FIRMS THAT GROW AND INVEST YOUR MONEY, WHICH REPRESENTS YOUR FUTURE, SHOULD BE INVESTING TIME IN GETTING TO KNOW YOU ON MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS. THE FIRM YOU CHOOSE AND HOW YOUR FINANCIAL HOUSE IS HANDLED AND WHAT ADVICE IS GIVEN AND ACTED UPON, WILL SHAPE AND CHANGE YOUR FUTURE. “
I started to think that my experience was so similar to what my clients and potential clients must go through when choosing who they should trust when it comes to looking after their family’s financial needs. It’s a decision that should create peace of mind. The people and firms that grow and invest your money, which represents your future, should be investing time in getting to know you on many different levels. The firm you choose and how your financial house is handled and what advice is given and acted upon, will shape and change your future. The managing of your portfolio will drive what you can or want to do with your financial resources. This is a huge and hopefully long-term decision and relationship.
So how do you know if you are the type of investor who should reach out and interview people to be your expert or continue to do the work yourself? Do you have a DIY resource pool of great writers to use for your own research and resources? Do you subscribe to paid research papers by those who write about the markets and the economy and dedicate time every day reading them? (P.S. Your local paper is not a legitimate source of the non-biased news and research you need.)
I find that many very smart people tend to stick to their lane — they recognize what they are good at and enjoy and delegate the rest. If this is you, you may feel overwhelmed like I did about taking care of things on your own, and just need to find a firm you can trust and will put your worries and needs at ease. Do you love stock picking, are doing well and can afford to lose some money? Maybe try a Robo firm. It also does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision. When your money’s growth is a “big deal” and it’s important for your way of life, retirement or long-term goals, it may be best to find a fiduciary firm that suits you and stay in the game by investing 10 percent of your money on your own. Knowing your limitations and comfort is crucial. Involving your kids with the 10 percent, plus the money professionally managed, will create connection and learning with your kids, no matter how old they may be.
I ultimately chose to use the experts for my planning, knowing that my needs were being taken care of before and during the vacation. During the trip was the best part of their exceptional service and knowledge. The ease I felt and the decrease in stress, was what I was looking for and got. Trusting experts has its perks.
Libby Wildman is Head of Wealth Advisory at the Toronto-based investment firm Davis Rea and the founder of Liminal Escapes creative curated retreats.