I haven’t played much golf, but even with my limited experience of what looks like a leisurely game, I can see that what often looks effortless – the smooth swing that sends that little white ball soaring in a perfect arc, the gentle putt that glides into the hole – comes from either an innate ability – or from steady practice. And maybe a bit of risk – but just a bit.

Creating wealth is far easier than golf in my opinion – and it doesn’t come from getting to grips with complex financial equations. The key is simplicity. Finance is an industry that loves complexity. I often see my clients’ eyes glaze over as I rabbit on about moderate and stable funds and capital and income quotes, forgetting that what’s all in a day’s work to me isn’t necessarily going to make sense to a professional sports person, or a pre-school teacher, for example. Keep it straight and simple. There’s no secret to wealth creation and novice investors do not need to take risks.

Take my late friend and one-time client, let’s call him Jerry, God rest his soul. He believed in picking stocks and shares that would give him maximum returns and the minute their value dropped, he’d want me to whip them out and try something else, refusing to accept that each time he traded, he would incur costs, which ate away at the value of his returns. He didn’t stay a client for long because I knew that steady, low-cost moderate return investment wasn’t for him. Investment needs a plan and one that you have to stick with, regardless of the price of oil, whatever war is being waged where, or whether a pandemic has arrived to immobilise the globe.

The stock market

THE STOCK MARKET is like a giant brain: there are millions of traders out there placing trades every second of the day. It stands to reason that at any time, the price is the very latest ‘best guess’.

The biggest mistake investors like my friend Jerry make is that they do too much – they swing too hard, put too much effort into the putt.


Apart from stock selection, the other pitfall for investors like Jerry is to try to beat the market through timing. It’s a lottery – calling the market only works if you know the outcome in advance. You might get it right once, but time and time again? Unlikely.

Once my friend Jerry had decided that I wasn’t able to out-perform the market or predict future economic meltdowns, he moved on. There will always be some financial whizz who’ll tell you s/he can identify out-performing funds and can pick you a winner. Alas, there is far more evidence of luck than skill in fund performance. Slow and steady – it’s golf not Formula One. Jerry was always a big motor racing fan.

But if you are a speedster, try not to dart all over the track – choose a fund and stick with it. You may ask how I know that the fund I may choose for you today is still going to be around in five or ten years’ time? The truth is I don’t, but what I do know is that if I keep my costs low, diversify broadly and take an appropriate level of risk, my clients will be rewarded over the long term.

Of course, with accumulating wealth and protecting that wealth, comes responsibility and knowledge. So how do you gain knowledge? You listen, you ask questions and you keep on asking questions until you have a full understanding of your subject. Don’t be intimidated – it’s your money and you have a right to find out exactly where it’s going.

Communication is key in the financial services arena – there’s a plethora of products, big billboard advertising and plenty of sharks in Lamborghinis after your wealth. You can choose to go with them and roar around the financial racetrack of stocks and shares and equities, or plant the seeds today to enjoy your scratch handicap years later.

Wealth creation doesn’t have to start with a huge lump sum of money – a regular recurring monthly premium is a steady way of amassing capital.

Don’t be like Jerry and try to beat the market and then get into a blind panic when you reach retirement age and realise that had you only put away a moderate amount of cash every month in a steady fund, you could’ve gotten to your sixties and enjoyed the 19th hole.

Jennie Hancock is an accredited financial advisor.

You can contact her on 082 523 2359 or email
[email protected] for a check in on your 19th hole goal progression.