with Raziah Ahmed
daughter who returned from Japan recently, was bubbling,
(or is it bobbing?) with the amount of time she spent bowing
to other people with the words origato gosai mas
(Japanese for thank you). It was a quite a culture
In the West, we dont bow, we shake hands, and spend
endless hours in board rooms and think tanks, strategising
on corporate positioning, creating the next wave, and best
in class practices, in what I sometimes call cut-throat
capitalism. Is it any different in our personal planning,
in our desire for financial independence?
It must be different, I think, because personal planning
is really about personal fulfilment. And corporate planning
is more about the fulfilment of the pockets
of shareholders. It is the raison detre for business,
but human beings hover in a different personal quest, it
is a quest for happiness.
The reality is that easy access to goods and services make
us comfortable, and when we are comfortable we get happy.
It is also somewhat of a rule of thumb, that the best goods
and services are more easily available to the best educated.
In every discipline whether it is financial planning, operations
management, marketing, sports, the works, the informed
starting point is the working of the strategic plan.
Thomas and Strickland, in their book Crafting and
Executing Strategy say that there are five interrelated
tasks in strategic planning. They are: forming a vision,
setting objectives, crafting a strategy aligned with desired
outcomes, efficient plan execution, and continuous evaluation
and improvement. These can certainly be applied to our personal
The Japanese call the process of continuous improvement
Kaizen, but they also use a more refined expression:
takumi, which refers to a broader dimension than quality,
a deeper process than education, and a more perfect method
The reality is that intricately waived into the whole process
of planning is the cost of failure!
The cost of failure is often not considered in personal
financial planning. But it exists!
Let us look at the cost of divorce. Divorce is a learning
experience, and a number of other things, but it is also
a failed marriage.
Aside from the legal fees, the value of the labour of two
people to build a home, buy furniture, motorcar, create
savings for education, create intangible assets such as
insurance etc, is suddenly split into two, and often not
Apart from these external costs, there are internal costs,
medical billsanxiety pills are expensivedisrupted
education, loss of self esteem and a host of emotional troubles,
which extract a tidy sum from the budget (not accounted
for in GDPgross domestic product), and time away from
Let us examine some external costs. What is the cost of
relocating? One partner will have to pay for a new place
to live, another set of furniture, TV, DVD, toaster, fridge.
One partner may move into a new relationship, more children,
pets, and greater expenses.
My point is that that in financial planning we have to factor
in the costs of failure, disappointments, and bad deals.
No! You do not have to plan to fail, but may I submit to
you: if you fail to plan, we have some Trinidad expressions
that will apply: crapaud smoke you pipe and
you dogs dead !
No! I am not an advocate for anyone to hold on to a bad
relationshipsometimes you have to just walk away!
But I am an advocate to bowing to power greater
than dimension, deeper than logic, and more perfect than
Ahmed is a registered financial consultant