Posted: 24/09/20 by Fortitude Financial Planning
Fortitude stalwarts Neil and Helen Bailey have recently embarked on the kind of adventure that they’re more used to helping clients with – achieving the life and retirement they really want.
It’s great news for them, but it’s also a good opportunity to walk you through an example of Fortitude’s own people applying the same techniques and practices that they suggest to their clients. After all, they’re people too and would only ever recommend a course of action that they’d be comfortable with themselves.
Of course, since lockdown took effect at the end of March, everyone’s plans have changed whether they like it or not. For example, Neil and Helen’s retirement plans centre largely on travel, much of it alongside Brian, their Toyota Hilux, who like his namesake from The Magic Roundabout carries a home (a Bimobil demountable cabin) around on his back.
Lockdown is and has been a serious challenge for all of us, so Fortitude has been catching up with retired Fortitude colleagues to see how they’ve been getting on and what they expect from the future.
You’ve been at home a lot haven’t you?
In 2020 shared cultural experiences aren’t as common as they once were. In 1986 if there was a big movie on ITV everyone was talking about it the next day, but these days you can watch whatever you want whenever you want. As it turns out, that’s quite handy when the nation is under house arrest. We might look back on lockdown as ‘a shared cultural experience’ of sorts, albeit one we neither wanted nor enjoyed, but every person in the UK (and of course beyond) has had to adjust to a new normal. Neil and Helen are the first to admit they’ve been lucky, living as they do with 40 acres of outdoor space, but it’s still been a busy and challenging time.
The trade-off for that sort of land is the maintenance that goes with it, and while everyone’s confined to their homes, the responsibility falls squarely on them. Industrious as ever, Neil and Helen have been stocking the woodshed for the two houses on the farmland they inhabit and they’ve also been dealing with fallen trees (because it’s been a bit windy of late). They now have a sparkling greenhouse and a regimented vegetable plot, meanwhile Neil’s also been fixing up the motorbikes, inspired by the exploits of @thesidecarguys – the Guinness World Record holders for the longest journey by scooter and sidecar.
The day the music didn’t die
Quite apart from COVID-19 itself, this period has been hard on professions across the board. But we’ve also seen a lot of ingenuity and the ability to adapt, with companies shifting their working practices to accommodate remote working en masse. Others have even changed their entire business model not only to survive, but to evolve and help out, with spirit distillers temporarily making hand sanitiser and clothing firms switching to PPE.
Another group that has suffered in the lockdown period has been musicians, who of course aren’t allowed to play live, which also means that venues, events and and promoters suffer. The solution here has been virtual gigs and festivals, which have also been a welcome development for Neil and Helen who are big music fans. Since lockdown began they’ve watched live-streamed concerts and theatre performances, as well as attending The Armchair Adventure Festival.
Retirement doesn’t mean stopping
A message that Fortitude are often keen to get across to clients is that retirement doesn’t represent an ending. On the contrary, it’s a new beginning and a chance to do what you want in your own time. But old habits die hard and Neil is as passionate about financial planning as ever. During the lockdown period, together with Steve Martin of the Financial Planning Training Academy, Neil has put together a three-day Zoom-based course for Certified Financial PlannersTM. Working in the field of financial planning for as long as they have it’s not surprising that Neil and Helen retain a keen interest and a fondness for being involved in how the industry develops in future.
What does the future hold?
Neil has spent many years helping clients to start, follow and execute their plans, getting them to the goals they set for themselves to live the best life possible with what they have to work with. That means he’s aware that recent months have well and truly put a spanner in the works for the future as people expected it to pan out. But he and Helen are optimistic about the weeks and months ahead – those plans will come to fruition, they’re just on hold for now.
At Fortitude they’ve always worked hard to stress the importance of understanding that plans don’t always unfurl perfectly. It’s a simple fact that life throws curveballs and while they’re not always on the scale of the pandemic we’re all living through, this is an example nonetheless. That’s why it’s important to be able to stick with your plan through thick and thin, even when it feels like a struggle. It’s also why contingency matters so much.
There’ll come a time when travelling will be back on the cards, something that Neil and Helen are really keen on because it forms the backbone of their retirement plans. Neil is a keen photographer – you can see a selection of images from his travels below and find him on Instagram at @papa_neil – and together they’re motorhome enthusiasts, which means they’re itching to get back on the road and into nature, with Neil documenting what they discover along the way. Neil enjoys the technical and post-production elements of photography, but ever one to test himself, it’s also about stepping out of his comfort zone. Despite his work as a planner, helping people to understand their future and achieve their goals, Neil actually identifies as an introvert. That’s the part of the challenge of photography, pushing himself to do something new and having to engage with people to get the images he wants.
Learning from lockdown
Understandably lockdown has brought disappointments, but there are valuable lessons to be learned. Neil and Helen have always had a retirement plan, because they’ve always valued the importance of really living your life. They’re passionate about work but passionate about life too and in a sense lockdown gives us all a chance to really reflect on that.
Right now, we’re having to deal with being unable to do what we want, but it’s also a unique chance to reconnect with family and friends (albeit digitally), to focus inward and think about right now instead of always racing to the future. As for your plans, they haven’t gone anywhere, they’re postponed not cancelled. When all this is over we’ll be able to pick up our plans, and enjoy them all the more.