9/05/2009

Winning in Financial Game

Winning in financial game needs a lot of rigorous planning. Mr. Edmund Lao - candidate for Registered Financial Planner (RFP)status - compared it to a good game of chess.

Chess...an ancient game of strategy that traces its origin to India, has been around for centuries. The objective of the game is to capture the opponent’s king by checkmate within 2.5 hours, a position where the king has nowhere to go. When an opponent gets checkmated, the game ends.

The game has three main stages: opening, middle, and the end game. The opening consists of the starting and the developing moves by deploying key pieces to their most effective positions to control the center. The middle game is the planning and execution stage. It is here that complications arise. The skill of the player in defense and offense and making critical decisions determines the outcome of the game. Erratic evaluations from a deceptive move by the opposing player can cause a winning game to be lost. Making decisions can even gain or lose a tempo (time on/against the side of a player who seizes/wastes opportunity). This is where the nerve of the player counts a lot.

The end game is the result of a properly or poorly planned middle game.

Masters have varying styles: aggressive, conservative or both. It is usually the young ones who are aggressive and the young “once” who tend to be conservative.

In financial game, how do people move and win?

Financial planning is like a good game of chess.

The opening

Playing the opening game in chess poorly always results in a crushing defeat. The same principle applies to personal finance. When one starts earning income (more or less at the age of 22), it is the best time to begin the quest to win the money game by making savings a habit. In this game, money represents chess pieces.

As chess pieces are moved forward to attack, one has to move his money forward, too.

He has to learn how to manage money and make it work through wise and aggressive investment moves. By being in control early on through financial discipline, the financial success is not hard to achieve.

In chess, studying the position is a must in order to have a good chance of emerging victorious. The player has to seize the initiative at the opening. In financial planning, one has to study his position and gather information for him to make good financial decision.

Unfortunately, majority commit the same blunder by delaying savings early on and putting first instant gratification or having the herd (or heard) mentality in investing. This kind of financial blunder is very costly, as one cannot take back lost time. Self-control is the key to success. One has to be in control or else he will be under control. By committing himself to learn first, he already built a strong foundation for his personal financial planning.

Take advantage of time. Control your emotion and discipline yourself.

Think of your goal of checkmating your financial opponent (you). In chess, the opponent is the other player. In financial planning, the opponent is ourselves. It is out human nature to resist change. We need to overcome and change old selves if we want to succeed. The late Bruce Lee once said we need to empty our cup. That means we need to discard the old and useless and retain the useful/absorb the new ones. Be up to date with financial information and put it into action.

The middle game

As a person begins to earn more, his expenses, unfortunately, also begin to keep pace. It is sometimes inevitable that because of factors such as family needs, lifestlye changes, impulsive buying decisions or new investment opportunities, a person’s expenses exceed his income.

When this happens, a correct mindset plays a a very crucial role in keeping in check with your financial target.

Before investing your money, investigate first. Remember that scammers will be very happy to have a chip of your hard-earned money. They usually invite people to their business-opportunity seminar and will make them “feel good” and part with their money, only to realize later that they had been “hypnotized” and pressured into taking part with the organization; although not all business-opportunity seminars may be scams.

Financial planning has never been a “feel-good” session. In fact, financial planning will present to you the harsh realities of life that you need to address and solve! One needs to gather information and use logic before jumping into any decision. Ask around, make research or background investigation, weigh your options before risking money. Even if you failed because of a bad decision, begin again. Remember the sayings “It ain’t over until it is over” and “There’s no failure until one stops trying”? Like a chess game, a player in an inferior position still has the chance to win when his opponent makes a wrong move. As long as one does not quit, there is always room for success. Whatever the result, continue playing for a win.

End game

At last! We come to the end of the game and the battle of wits is almost over. The scenario now is much simpler and easier to analyze.

There are only a few pieces left on the board. Checkmate is in the offing. Only one will emerge victorious. The winning player remains composed and has plenty of time to make a move while the losing player is usually stressed and finds himself in time trouble. Then suddenly, checkmate! The question is: Are you the announcer or the receiver of the announcement?


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I thank Mr. Edmund Lao for the permission to publish the above article in this blog. I met him through Pinoy Smart Savers. He is an active contributor to www.income-tacts.com. He will earn his RFP status soon.


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