The Importance of taking a Timely and Well-Informed Decision

I recently shifted my residence within the same locality. As I was rushed for time (due to my travelling schedules) I had only five days between the day I came back from an outstation visit and the day of the ‘grihapravesh pooja’. The packers and movers had to be organised and all the stuff had to be shifted before the date of the ‘pooja’.

I called for quotes from three packers, selected a new and young (in terms of experience) packer whose quote was quite obviously, the lowest. So far so good (or so I thought).

Shifting day finally arrived and the chaos began. Wherever I was around I got the cartons packed the way I wanted them and marked the boxes with the contents. But since I could not be at all places at the same time, trouble began to get packed. When I enquired what was in the boxes, they said it was ‘mixed’. Basically those boxes got shifted without any marking of the contents.

Worse was to follow. The packers opened up the boxes and piled up the contents into drawers and cupboards at their own will. Since the contents were ‘mixed’ there was no one proper place for the contents to be emptied into. So they just got dumped into the first open drawer. I did not realise it then, but all hell had broken lose.

Within a few days of the shifting, my younger son had to be hospitalised and when the hospital asked me for the health insurance card or policy, I was at sea. I rushed home and searched high and low, but could not track the papers. The reason being, all the contents had been mixed and were lying somewhere. Now where that somewhere was, I had no clue. Anyway, I called the insurance company and they helped me dig up the policy papers from their records. All’s well that ends well, but it was a huge learning for me.

Let me try and co-relate this with my field of work – financial planning. If I had applied the same principles to my shifting I would have been so well off and none of this madness would have occurred.

  • We leave all our investments and planning for the last minute because we are in a job or are running a business and are unable to find time. Only when the issue is right upon our head (when the accounts department says show me your tax-saving investments or the taxes will be deducted from your next three-four months’ salary) do we rush to make the investments. As Sophocles (one of the classical Athens’ three great tragic playwrights) said “Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.”
  • We start planning or look for a financial planner only when we have been hit by a ‘reality bomb’ – this is when reality strikes you (one fine morning) and we realise that we have no investments to speak of or all the investments are making a loss.
  • We then rush to friends, neighbours and colleagues to ask for references. Again, since there is not enough time we cannot do a background check and go with our gut feel.
  • The previous decision in most cases is primarily based on the quote or the rate being charged. The cheaper the better. “Why should one waste money on such a mundane activity”. What we do not realise is that there is a price for quality. In my case, the ‘rookie’ packers were cheaper than the established names (who have a track record to show), but they made a complete mess by not labelling and packing stuff haphazardly. Finally, I had to bear the brunt. So much for bargain hunting. Plato has rightly said “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”
  • Now comes the more serious part of ‘mixing’. Based on the quality of your packer (read: financial advisor), the packing (read: advice given) is based purely on finishing the job at hand (read: getting your signature on the forms) as early as possible with giving as much as a second thought of how you, as a customer, would have to deal with a situation, later on. The idea is to move to the next customer as quickly as possible. So haphazard and unnecessary products are recommended where there is a mix of all kinds (like mixing health insurance and investment returns or life insurance and investment returns). It is only later on when you open the carton (read: policy document) do you realise that you cannot figure out head or tail of the contents. You are not even sure that whether what you are looking for is there in that particular carton.
  • In times of emergency, one is at a loss at to which instrument should I redeem or sell, since all the products are ‘mixed investment products’. If only, care had been taken right in the beginning, as to why a product was being purchased and the investments had been clearly marked to each goal, the investor would not be at sea. If each carton had been properly marked with the contents, unpacking becomes so much easier. In other words, clothes are not put in the same carton as office papers.

Life becomes so much easier if we plan properly (be it our shifting or for our future goals) and have sufficient time to evaluate options and select the best-suited rather than rushing decisions. Finally, it is vital that we take well-informed decisions – selecting the right advisor (packer) and clearly demarcating the investments and not mixing the contents.