Financial Planning Involves More Than Money

Some people think if they have savings and investment in order and have their insurance portfolio working in their favour they clear financially. Modest adjustments as income and children’s needs evolve should do it. People must know about the environment where their financial assets will be working for them.

Are they wrong if they don’t notice the surrounding world? In the past, probably not.

If you look at history up to about 2015, paying little attention could have worked. Investment markets were predictable over the intermediate to long term, laws changed, but generally not in ways that made the generic plan fail. Employment was predictable. People lived a little longer each generation.

That is not the state of the world anymore.

What has changed?

Governments have changed. At one time governments existed as leaders. In business, the best leaders get out in front and clear the path for the people who follow. They don’t do things as much as they make the doing of things easier. There is little of that in government today.

The people’s malaise is there but the blame is aimed at the wrong people. Politicians make laws, they don’t make the regulations that implement them. That task falls to bureaucrats. In my view, the politicians have gotten lazy and do not supervise the bureaucratic regulation-making. Worse they create laws that intentionally leave the details to others.

Politicians should remain responsible for the outcomes. We can ask for that and follow up if we don’t get it.

How is it playing out?

Bureaucracies are funded with a budget so there are no external market feedback elements to contend with every year. There is little oversight as to their relevance and execution. So, what happens?

The work becomes the whole thing. Outcomes are barely measurable and don’t matter much. That leads to an ever-growing emphasis on details. The European Union is the leader in that category. There is no limit to the level of detail they can address. In 2017 they created regulations for how much a restaurant could toast bread or cook french fries. Acrylamide is the scourge of our times.

Does anyone ever assess the cost/benefit of that sort of regulation? I doubt it, or there would be fewer.

You cannot give power to people and expect they won’t use it. You especially cannot make the jobs go away when you decide the activity is not worth the price.

Where we see the effects.

How long does it take to get a subdivision approved and serviced? Years, more often decades. If you want to build a pipeline, regardless of its potential benefits, decades. Environmental assessments examine the fine detail to a fare-thee-well. Drug approvals, a decade. School curriculum decades, safer cars – years at least. Should it take that long or is the process of approval feeding itself at the cost of the public? Try to get approval for something when they’re not busy. Making the work last is an art.

The bureaucrats seem to think the execution of their mandates is cost-free. They are not. Even the most trivial interferes with the normal course of living.

Did you know in the OECD, Canada ranks 34th of 35 when it comes to the time it takes to get construction approvals? Been there. I’m surprised there is some country worse.

People want to be left alone

The truckers convoy in Canada was characterized to be about vaccine mandates. Too narrow. People want fewer mandates of any kind and the government doesn’t want to give up their right to decide what rules there shall be.

Here’s why we care.

“More than ambition, more than ability, it is rules that limit contribution; rules are the lowest common denominator of human behaviour. They are a substitute for rational thought.”

Admiral Hyman G. Rickover (1900-1986)

How did we lose control of the trivial rules versus rational thought trade-off? How do we get rational thought back?

The bits to takeaway

Poorly conceived rules limit your future. Some you can overcome, but not all.

Governments can harm you in more ways than monetary policy and foolish spending.

Politicians have supervisory responsibility and rulemaking should be the first area they reform.

You have a duty to be a smarter voter

Remember Brexit. The British wanted rid of the bureaucrats in Brussels but have been slowed by the pandemic.  Excessive bureaucratic rubbish Why have others not learned from the EU fiasco. Britain will not be the only one to leave.

Help me, please. Please subscribe. If you have found this article helpful, forward it to others.

I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at

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