Wesley has packed it in. The poor, delicate flower has had enough of dealing with distraught clients. Says he thought moving to Melbourne might help. Says all this negativity is doing his head in. Says he needs a break – so he’s off to Switzerland for a spot of naked hiking.
No, seriously, he is. Naked hiking has become a hugely popular pastime. I can’t see what’s wrong with it, personally – even though it’s apparently Germans with whom it’s most hugely popular – but it’s become such a problem that Swiss authorities are considering banning it.
Wesley says he will send the occasional postcard – no idea how he plans to carry a pen – but for the time being, at least, he has signed off. Farewell then, Wes.
Wes’s decision got me thinking. At first I thought he was soft; upon reflection I can see where he is coming from. It can be a soul-destroying experience to deal with unhappy and unsettled clients. They’re the minority, but it’s the unhappy ones who are the most vocal and who tend to make the most lasting impression.
Dealing with these clients, you end up sounding like a broken record: The strategy is sound; stick to the plan. This is an extreme market event – something like a one-in-40-year occurrence; if you sell now you’ll crystallise losses; we expect it to recover over time, so hang in there. Here’s our invoice, see you next time.
The media isn’t helping planners’ state of mind. Increasingly, I’m hearing them saying they’ve simply stopped reading newspapers and watching the news, because it’s all too depressing.
To get through weeks – or is it months now? I’ve lost track of time – of this sort of unrelenting negativity, it’s necessary to have good peer support. So when a colleague rang and told me to put aside Friday lunchtime, I cleared the diary – without a second thought.
Actually, he said, “put aside Friday”. Silly me. We sat down for what turned out to be a long, leisurely peer support session, unwinding and talking about the stresses of dealing with unhappy clients, and the answers to our current economic woes.
The meeting involved a beef vindaloo and – naturally – a large volume of beer. But we developed some pretty elegant solutions (can’t remember most of them now, though), and not long afterwards I passed a pretty impressive stimulus package of my own. My very own Brown Package, if you will (that’s the UK equivalent of the Obama and Rudd packages, in case you were wondering).
Enough of this.
This economic fistfight has also given those who notionally work with words (but who, in reality, only wrestle with them briefly before unleashing them on the world) a chance to show their worth. Barely a day goes by when some well-meaning BDM doesn’t brighten our lives with an unintentional mixed metaphor.
We’re all busy, but I really did feel sorry for the chap who complained to me in an e-mail about finding himself “behind the ape ball” – an image I didn’t care to dwell upon.
One told us that investors are “not the sharpest cookies in the paddock”, and how we have to “get all our ducks on the same page” before their confidence returns.
We know times are tough – we’ve been told, “it’s time to batten down the trenches”. And that “now is not the time to be looking for an escape goat” to blame for our financial woes. It’s going to be difficult to navigate out of the current mess, “but investing isn’t rocket surgery”.
We should all be prepared to capitalise “when opportunity knocks on our doorbell”. Ding dong.