A Lesson About Financial Planning From Hockey and Poker

Fundamental information comes in many forms.  The deep messages are the same no matter the field of study.  For example, there are some who do not see the connections among life planning, poker and professional hockey. 

Let me offer you some guidance.

What is betting for in poker?  For weak players, it is a way to scare off another player or, maybe, a way to win more money.  For strong players betting is a question.  How good is your hand?  The sequence of responses to bets at each point in the hand will give strong players very good insight to what you may be holding.  Some are nearly psychic.  Once they have a clear idea of your hand, future decisions are easier.  Good players tend to lose small and win big.  Just the opposite for weak players.

In life planning what you do now should aim at making future decisions easier.

top-10-hockey-ken-drydenI recently came upon this identical idea in Ken Dryden’s 1983 hockey memoir, “The Game.”  Talking about hall-of-fame defenceman, Larry Robinson.  “His greatness had to do with what he did and what he didn’t have to do because of how he did it.”

“What he didn’t have to do because of how he did it.”  That is the mark of efficiency.  Maximum results with minimum input.  But the inputs need to be carefully crafted and executed.  In life planning, they must be based on information and experience and temperament.  And on time and resources and reality.

Carefully considered and carefully crafted decisions last longer than the others and provide continuing benefit. Most financial injuries are self-inflicted.  Poorly conceived or no plan.  Poorly chosen or conflicting techniques and products.  Impatience and inattention.  Failure to correct soon enough.

Larry Robinson has advantages.  He is athletic, big, strong and tough.  All useful, but he could have left them undeveloped.  He achieved greatness by a combination of other factors.  Decent coaching, persistence, ability to give up the present for a better future,  learning from mistakes, learning about his opponents, supporting teammates and having fun doing it.

We know Larry was not merely lucky to be wonderful as a player.  He is an able coach as well.  To me, that means knows how he knows what he knows.  The unconscious competent group cannot tell others about it.  He knows what he knows and can teach it because he paid attention and likely made lots of mistakes that added to his skill.

Just so with a financial plan.  No one else can prepare and execute a financial plan for you, even though it looks like they can. They can help you.  Like the coach or the clever opponent who beats you.  But you have to do the work and learn the lessons and supply the time and other resources. If you are able to do that, you can reap the rewards.

You need at least a coach, a cheerleader, a psychologist and a conscience.  An adviser can supply those.  It is very difficult to supply them all by yourself.

If you let others “plan you” then you are facing the situation that if they do a poor job, they won’t fail, but you might.  Better to influence your own fate to the extent possible.

Learn more about the theory of planning and the methods of financial planning.  You will be the better for that.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

don@moneyfyi.com  |  Twitter @DonShaughnessy  |  Follow by email at moneyFYI

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