There's always a crash 

My wife is not exactly stinting the sarcasm when she describes my fetching appearance en route to the office during the week.  I am a keen cyclist, so this invariably involves a fluorescent green helmet, which seems to sit like a rugby-ball on top of my head.  I have never been sure of the reasons for this strange style, and have assumed that there is some rational safety reason for wishing to transform the wearer into the modern incarnation of Dan Dare's Mekon.  Or, perhaps the manufacturer is just having a good chuckle at my expense.  Increasingly, I suspect the latter as I observe crowds of pedestrians incontinent with mirth as I pass by.  Still, it's good to make people happy, and this seems to be an almost effortless way of doing it.

Of course, the helmet is not the end of the sartorial statement.  There's the day-glo jacket, so I can at least in my spare time not look out of place digging holes in the road.  And, as a nice little final touch, there are the bright yellow ankle straps, to avoid tangling flappy trouser-legs up in the bike chain.  The overall effect is of a bandy chicken with encephalitis which has been involved in a collision with a source of lurid paint.  Perhaps this is not the look I would have chosen for myself when I was a younger man and cared about such things, but right now it seems to make sense.

Especially on Wednesday, when I fell victim to a patch of black ice, lurking with malign intent in the park.  It was a day of freezing fog, and I had shown a degree of initiative and commonsense which my wife would tell you is entirely uncharacteristic - having chosen to take the route to the office via the park, rather than on the (extremely busy) main road.  The crash, when it happened, was entirely sudden, quite catastrophic and occurred whilst I was proceeding slowly, and with great care.  On the main road, this would have involved the dubious additional experience of interaction with moving vehicles - in the park, it seemed to include some bouncing, the testing of the helmet against tarmac, a horizontal translocation over a few meters, the warm embrace of a gatepost, quite a bit of mud, plus damage to my arm and various joints.  The mud, incidentally, did not taste nearly as good as it looked.

It may be a feature of the ways in which we recall the past, but adolescent bike incidents seem to have been more balletic in nature, with Johanne Strauss playing the soundtrack whilst one revolved briefly but gracefully through the air.  The experience of maturer years did not share those characteristics, and I was reminded of my mortality and the brutal intolerance of gravity.  Thankfully, I have avoided a visit to A&E in order to have bike components surgically extracted from soft parts of my anatomy.

The journey.  In this case, the journey to work, but the metaphor can be applied to almost any context.  It's a journey where the start and end points are generally understood.  The broad parameters of the route between them are also reasonably clear.  You can draw a diagram of it - in my case, a little schematic map.  In the context of financial-planning, it may be a simple chart, sprinkled with a few key events:  college, career, children, retirement, death... Sitting behind the schematic may be the rudiments of cashflow planning, or even some quite sophisticated modeling, but all of it will be reductionist if we are not extremely careful, for there is always a crash.  Even the ultra-cautious cyclist, one whose wife regularly threatens severe consequences if he ends up as roadkill, is subject to the unexpected event which may interrupt the journey, slow it down, lead to a significant and costly diversion.

Those ValidPathers using CashCalc will know that we now have the capacity to overlay 'crash' scenarios onto the client's financial map, in order to explore the kind of 'what ifs' that any sane individual would want to take into consideration if their Adviser gave them the option.  But there's so much more we could or should be doing for our clients - which is why we have personal protection insurance.  Do your clients have adequate personal cover?


Kevin Moss, 27/01/2017