The Sum of your Choices

The Nobel Prize-winning writer Albert Camus reportedly said that “Life is a sum of all your choices”. Every twist and turn you take is cumulative. Along the way your decisions can be measurably additive or they can detract from your goals, but over the course of your life – and discounting external factors – they lead you to who and where you are.

Similarly, you could say your financial outcome is the sum of all the investment and planning choices you make throughout your life. How comfortably you can retire and how much you can leave to loved ones is influenced significantly by the financial decisions you make.


We should therefore elicit a clear understanding of the potential outcome of our choices.


There are many factors in life you can’t precisely determine. However, through action and perseverance, careful analysis and the right guidance it is possible to forge a path that closely matches your wishes. You may not always be able to have everything you hope for, but you always have choices that can influence and improve your life, whether it is work, home, health or family.


Not every decision will work to our advantage, but cumulatively, they can add up and ensure that we have had a meaningful input into shaping our own future. 


The path of investing towards a comfortable income in later life also has many factors outside of our determination. We can’t control how markets perform, the effects of inflation or our own life expectancy, but we can model for these factors and allow for their impact.


There are, however, several factors we can influence – through choices we make – that allow us to make a substantial difference to our investment outcome, and by extension, to the quality of our lives.


- We can choose whether or not to invest in the first place. This may require a mind-shift if you are not in the habit of doing so. But it is hard to deny the argument when you calculate the potential damage from not being invested.


- We can choose, then, to steer clear of excessive fees which can have a corrosive impact on investment values and sorely limit our future choices as a result.


- We can make full use of available tax wrappers (such as ISAs and pensions) throughout our lives, not just for ourselves, but to benefit our whole families.


- We can be widely and sensibly diversified, a difficult enough knack to master on your own but more achievable with the right investment partner.


- We can stay invested – again not so easy in the face of seemingly relentless uncertainty, but the odds are really against you if you try and dip in and out of the market based on your fears or impulses.


It is easy to feel your life’s trajectory is outside of your command. But you have choices, and by not shying away from them you can effect incremental yet profound changes as well as lasting consequences.


You can reverse questionable choices. You can repair ill-judged choices. If you feel you have made the wrong choice – through being misled or from discovering fresh information – you can change or adapt your choices. You can choose to make new decisions.


Of course, being overwhelmed by too many choices is not much use, either.


At Netwealth, we help investors to keep their investment choices to a minimum. You have a choice of seven investment portfolios and you decide how much to invest or whether to invest at all. We help you clearly understand the scenarios you can control and enable you to test your choices.


How to make the most of tax allowances, how to optimise a withdrawal strategy to cover your retirement income needs – these are among the decisions we can help you with along the way. You can use our market-leading tools to help you plan ahead, and our advisers are always on hand to guide you through any complex situations. It’s your choice.


Along the way, we take care of your investments. We make the difficult decisions on your behalf (such as what assets to buy and from where), to ensure you are an active participant in investment markets without being exhausted by choices.


Our aim is to give you the freedom to make the more important decisions which affect your life.


One of the most celebrated books by Albert Camus, The Plague, attracted a new generation of readers in 2020, for obvious reasons. Among the themes it navigates are the nature of human resilience and the consequences of choices. Camus was much sought out for his philosophical views throughout his life and was widely quoted. He was also believed to have said, “Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”


While “giving all” to your present now may be a bit of a stretch, you can be extra generous towards your future by making the financial decisions appropriate for you – and choosing carefully.


Please note, the value of your investments can go down as well as up.

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