I gave a presentation once. It was in the middle of the day so the only people there were the ones with no jobs, most of whom had given life to a baby boomer.
After my hilarious dissertation on the benefits of long term investment one senior member rose to take the floor and said “What is it about you stockbrokers that you all seem to think that old people are long term investors.”
Great question. We do, don’t we. Ridiculous. He continued. “In fact this very morning my stockbroker rang me and started talking to me about Telstra’s five year plan and the benefits of reinvesting dividends and achieving long term compound returns. But I am 75” he said “and according to my insurance company’s actuaries that means I have just 3.8 years to live.” The room murmured. “Mate, I have absolutely no interest in Telstra’s five year plan because, quite simply, I’ll be dead.” Applause. He went on: “I don’t want long term returns, I want to be ripping up Route 66 on a Triumph Rocket, or schmoozing babes in the Roman Room at the Ritz. Not listening to Telstra’s five year plan. So don’t give me your long term compound growth bullshit. Give me sex. And give it to me now!”. And like a blue rinsed thundercloud the midday audience rose as one to applaud him. “So what are you doing here” I countered “Why aren’t you in the Roman Room at the Ritz?”. He replied “Well there’s something else you need to learn young man. There comes a time in your life when things move not in months and years but in bodily organs, and when the only organ in your body that still pumps blood is your brain, the stock market is as close to sex as you can get. So here I am seizing the day mate. You’ll find out, eventually.” It is a great endorsement of the stock market that someone with 3.8 years to live wants to spend those years playing the game. But why wait for retirement. The biggest attraction of the stock market is that anyone can play it and that the prerequisites for success are not laid down in stone, in education, in birth rite, but can be created from scratch by anyone from any background and almost any skill set. It is a state of mind that makes the difference. There is no longer anything elite about it. The stock market is a game anyone can play. Making money and losing money. Being in combat. Pitting yourself against the collective intellect of all the other traders and investors. Measuring yourself. Being stimulated. Doing something different every day. Beats work. That’s why any of us do anything well or with passion, because we enjoy it and that’s why the people with only a few years left to live choose the stock market, because the activity of trying to succeed makes them happy. I met a photographer the other day. He had retired rich as a partner in a major accounting firm. With the cosmos at his feet he had finally taken the time to work out what he really wanted to do. It turned out to be photography. The shame of it was that it had taken him 65 years before he had stopped for long enough to work out what it was that he really wanted to do. Stupid thing was, it was only then that he had realised that it was something he could have been doing all his life. If I had all the money and time in the world I’ve worked out that I’d like to spend more time with my wife and my kids, walking my kids to school, playing with them (sorry Archie), helping them with their homework and above all showing them the world, travelling. I have also realised that unlike photography, I can’t wait until I retire. My window on receptive children is narrowing every day. We all have to stop and ask “If I had all the time and money in the world what would I be doing?”Chances are, you could or should be doing it already.