Back in 2013, Forbes personal finance columnist Tim Maurer decided to ditch Facebook, and “hesitantly chose to write about why.” By the end of the year, his “7 Reasons I Dumped Facebook” post had become his most popular piece ever: Tim marveled, “after getting more views than anything else I’ve ever written for Forbes.com, it was picked up by Yahoo! Finance and went viral on their site. Crazy.”
This, despite the fact that renouncing Facebook has nothing to do with personal finance.
Or does it?
Here’s another case in point. Toward the end of my recent two-week French cycling tour, after I’d had ample “off-grid” time to turn inward, it dawned on me how removed I’d become from the daily news. I hadn’t read a newspaper. I hadn’t surfed the Internet or watched TV. I did know about Hurricane Harvey (and wished all the best for everyone in its path!), but only because I’d been using my weather app each morning to decide what to wear for the ride.
What did I miss that impacted my financial services when I returned to the real world? Nothing. In my absence and without any assistance from me, the financial markets had adeptly absorbed all of the news, from grandiose to granular.
Had I instead remained abreast of the current headlines, I might have felt more informed. Fooled by overconfidence (a behavioural bias affecting advisors and investors alike), I might have believed the daily updates would help me make better financial decisions for my clients.
Instead, I believe that clearing my mind of all that noise for two weeks has refreshed me to focus even more clearly on the kind of financial advice that really matters and is expected to add value to my clients’ portfolios. That’s the evidence-based kind that focuses on capturing years, if not decades of a largely efficient market’s expected returns.
My time away reminded me I should suggest a dose of this same radio silence for my clients now and then. By periodically tuning out the noise that has become so ingrained in your everyday life, you just may discover how loud it’s become – especially if you compare the volume to how little it’s expected to contribute to your financial best practices. By the way, with the extra time you gain, you can check out some of my favourite ride photos. I’ve posted them on Facebook and my ride details on Strava.