The new paradigm

Originally published | 7th September 2019

“Paradigm” – in science and philosophy, a paradigm is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns, including theories, research methods, and standards for what constitutes legitimate contributions to a field.

I’ve been in financial services now for close to 20 years and in this time, every time there is a change of government, a new review, or a new budget, there is a cry that the end is near and that our industry, specifically financial planning, won’t last.  We start to see mental health statistics and suicide rates heavily reported in the industry presses as if this would be enough to turn the tide.  To me this just sensationalises the issues, rather than giving real guidance or support.

What these changes do though is provide our industry with a new paradigm.  A new way to help clients achieve their objectives.

Instead of new paradigms, I have frequently used the term “new normal”.  This has come from my personal journey over the last twelve months.

In August 2018, after requesting an MRI three times from her doctor, my wife was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma.  By the time that this diagnosis was made, the disease had metastasised to her lungs (yes plural) and the meninges (the fluid wrap around the brain).  This was devastating, and as a family we could have folded up and crumbled, but we took the challenge head on as she started treatment.

This started our new normal.  My wife had to go onto long term sick leave (thankfully she had income protection) and my kids had to get used to periods where she isn’t well enough to do things.  We have had multiple admissions to hospital in this period, and that sets another new normal of getting the three of us organised for work and school as well as visiting mum in hospital.

With every change in diagnosis though comes another new normal.  We don’t carry on doing the same thing, we adjust and adapt to the newest challenge.  As I write this latest post, my wife is in hospital for what started as undergoing pain management for recent radiation therapy and developed into an infection which has set off delirium.  That becomes another new normal to us as we learn more about the outcomes of her disease.

But why tell this story, and what does it have to do with Financial Planning?

It’s about perspective and understanding that paradigms shift all of the time.  When a paradigm shifts, you can continue to do what you have been doing and hope for the right result, or you can adapt and find another way.

I’m not seeing too much of the latter at the moment.  This means that it is up to the thought leaders and our industry associations to start helping advisers to adapt to finding better ways to assisting their clients.  Help them to adapt to changing legislative frameworks better.  The hardest thing is that even some of our thought leaders and industry associations aren’t very good at adapting to new paradigms.

I don’t claim to have all the answers in how to do it, all I can say is embrace the new normal and be adaptable.  Those that embrace change and adapt will be the most successful.

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