Are you a snap decision maker? Or do you hate being put on the spot? As financial planners, we help people make great decisions about the most important things in life, but we know it’s not always easy.
We’ve picked out three types of people who tend to find decision-making more difficult than most.
The impossible decision maker
Some people simply are terrible decision-makers. Perhaps you can think of someone right now. They’re always the last to choose when you eat out. They go shopping for a new outfit and come back with nothing. They subscribe to Which? magazine to help them whittle down which new gadget to buy but find it impossible to choose. And when they do choose something, they spend the following weeks and months fretting that it wasn’t the right choice.
Often, these people are so worried about making the right decision that there is a real fear of getting it wrong. And that fear simply gets in the way of getting anything done.
Not surprisingly, the same thing happens when they need to make financial decisions.
- Work with someone that you feel you can trust. You’ll never get anything done if you don’t. And with financial decisions, it’s usually better to take action sooner rather than later.
- Explain to your financial planner that you find making decisions hard.
- You can expect your financial planner to explore your fears. If you know what you’re worried about, this can help make decisions easier.
- Break decisions down into chunks and agree on a timetable with your financial planner.
The distracted thinker
Some people find it difficult to make decisions because their mind is elsewhere. Often more creative people or deep thinkers might be inclined to think about bigger picture issues and find it much harder to find interest in the here and now.
People with other concerns in life can also be distracted. Perhaps they are going through a relationship breakdown, a bereavement, or redundancy. Or they may suffer from health issues ranging from depression or anxiety to physical pain. It’s almost impossible to concentrate for any length of time, let alone make any sensible and genuine decisions.
- Have someone else with you in any meetings. You’ll feel more comfortable, they can remind you what your questions are, encourage you to speak up if you feel nervous, and take notes. You might even want them to make the decisions for you.
- Record the meeting. Most phones will allow you to take an audio recording. So long as the other person agrees, you can use that to help you listen back to what was said.
- If you’re in a situation where you are distracted and worried about something, it might be a good idea to do nothing at all.
- Discussions and meetings can be lengthy and involved. But they don’t have to be. If everyone is aware of your situation, discussions can easily be broken down into chunks of 15 minutes or so.
- Agreeing a good time to call. If you suffer more with stress or illness as the day goes on, or you need to have a break for medication, let your professional adviser know.
- Ask for a meeting to be held at a place where you feel most comfortable. That could be your home, an office or somewhere neutral.
The conflicted person
Most of us have conflicts of some degree, particularly when it comes to financial decisions. A common one is that we want our capital to be completely secure, and to have a fantastic growth rate. But the reality is that to have a good chance of growth, your capital will be at risk.
Business owners can often have more conflicts than most. They are usually financially astute, used to taking risks with their business, delegating and processing information quickly. So why should they have any difficulty in making good financial decisions? Because of the emotion that is tied up in their business, often describing their ventures as their ‘baby’ or a ‘family’. It’s very difficult to make sound, impartial decisions when you think of your finances in that way.
- Invite your professional adviser to challenge you and be prepared to listen. They know what they’re doing and will have spoken to lots of people with a similar situation to you.
- Explain to your financial planner where you have ingrained beliefs or conflicts that will need to be explored before any decisions are made. A good financial planner will ask plenty of questions to help that process anyway.
- For business owners, remind yourself that the most successful entrepreneurs surround themselves with experts to help them make great decisions. You are not an island and do not need to do this alone.
- Make sure you tell your financial planner to give you all the facts and figures. You should feel more comfortable making great decisions when the data is in front of you.
No matter your situation, if you’re making any decisions, first acknowledge where your strengths and weaknesses lie and how that drives your behaviour. If your professional advisers know more about you, they’ll be able to see what you’re more likely to find difficult. And they can adapt how they work to suit you better, so you find it much easier to make great decisions and get things done.