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What Basketball and Bracketology can Teach You About Retirement

John Shrewsbury, RICP®

March Madness is just around the corner, and I’ve got to admit – I’m as guilty as the next guy of frittering away hours watching the drama, excitement, strategy, and glory as basketball takes over our TVs and our collective attention. But all the hype has got me thinking… what can basketball and bracketology teach us about retirement? (I’m a financial advisor, okay? I’ll find an analogy for your money in just about anything)

Good Coaching Matters.

How many of us would love to go back and relive the glory days of “HawgBall” and the incredible run the Razorbacks had in the early 90s, including a national championship?  Yes, we had great players, but we had a great coach in Nolan Richardson. His 40 Minutes of Hell was feared by even the best teams, and at its apex, his coaching outdid one of the greatest names and powers of college basketball when the Hogs beat Duke and Mike Krzyzewski.  When it comes to retirement planning, the same elements of leadership, confidence, and vision that Richardson provided the Razorbacks are delivered through a financial advisor as you attempt to win the retirement game.  A great advisor, like a great coach, will keep you focused when things like short-term market behavior or unexpected life events might tend to otherwise throw you off your game.

Bracketology and Stock Picking are Both Guessing Games.

Oh, sure you can analyze the past performance of basketball teams and investments, and plenty of people spend their time in both arenas doing just that. But when the lights come on and you’re in the game, all that history and statistical data won’t necessarily tell you who the winners and losers will be on the court or on Wall Street. A great financial advisor knows the highest and best use of his time and talent is building a plan that helps you achieve the outcome you are looking for in retirement, which is regular, predictable income that meets your basic expenses and discretionary funds that allow you to live the lifestyle you’ve been dreaming about. At the end of the day, execution without strategy doesn’t work on the basketball court.  And it doesn’t work in your financial plan either.

Emotions Have their Time and Place, but It’s Not When the Pressure is On.

The best teams and players are those who can have ice water in their veins while the arena is going crazy, the pressure is on, and the game is on the line. They get in “the zone”, block out all the “madness”, and focus on the task at hand.  In retirement investing, the stakes are high. Your life savings is at stake, and it is not an option to fail at building a proper retirement income strategy.  Market turmoil and the 24-hour news cycle certainly are enough to stir up your emotions.  Don’t let them be stirred.  Trust your plan, and trust your advisor to use his/her skills to navigate the investments. After all, it is his or her job to look out for your financial best interest.  Emotions, when the game is on the line, can lead you to do the wrong thing, at the wrong time for the wrong reason.  Just like at the Final Four, stay focused and let your emotions flow when the games are over!

Speaking of the Final Four, it all reaches a crescendo with the championship game.  But the next day, life returns to normal… well, it may take a few more days if your favorite team is in the big dance. After all, it was just a game.

Retirement is not a game; it’s your future.  It will dictate the quality of your financial life after you stop working for a paycheck. Get professional help, use facts over feelings, and steer clear of emotion-driven decisions. These steps could set you up to win in one of life’s most important arenas.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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