Anticipation Helps

Every hunter eventually becomes a farmer.

A hunter is someone who pursues and takes what they desire.  They must be able to define the environment of their chase and the nature of their pursued wish.  They must have the strength and agility to complete the task and the perseverance and endurance to deal with failure.

A farmer on the other hand creates an environment that leads to success.  It takes longer, is less exciting and still not immune to failure.

The essential difference is the method.  Farmers tend to be process driven, while hunters tend to be event driven even if there is some process in their plan.

Most sales people are hunters.  Most entrepreneurs switch from one to the other as situations dictate, but their inclination is to build a process that is the business.  Therefore farmer.

Many clients are hunters and they can be difficult to deal with.  Impatience leads to bad decisions.  Unsupportable beliefs about the way things work lead to disaster.  Timing seems more important than time.  Some farmers would benefit from a little of the hunter instinct.  Risk aversion can be overdone.

Notice though that hunters eventually get tired.  The absence of predictability is a blemish not overcome by the excitement.  People like predictable and will eventually seek it.

When helping clients, bear in mind that process and predictability will become important.  Spend time educating clients to the idea and its application.  Gradually move investments and overall planning towards the goal of autopilot.

I have found that some people do not change gradually.  The 55th birthday seems to be the switch point and some are quite amazing.  I have had several clients phone on their 55th birthday (exactly) wanting to start the process of succession and/or sale of their business.  One of them had been a believer that cash and unused line of credit were the same thing and that growth was security.  He suddenly wanted to own bonds.

Part of being an effective advisor and also of being a competent client is to recognize that important things weight differently later in life.  Anticipation is a useful aid to success.

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

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