As you can see by the picture below – I am not in a cage and I am not wearing protective gear! There was no need! This was a dive I did in the Bahamas, just off Nassau Island.
Before I get to my lessons learned, I strongly encourage everyone to learn more about these incredible creatures that play such a critical role in our ecosystem. A fun and easy way to do this is to watch the movie Shark Water. This is a docudrama and is very entertaining and enlightening. http://www.sharkwater.com/
Do your homework before jumping in the water!
Before even considering doing a dive with sharks I had learned a lot about them. With this knowledge I had more interest in them and sought out the opportunity to do this dive. By the time I was ready to enter the water, I was calm and ready for the dive.
When it comes to your finances it is just as important to make the effort to learn more about them. The more you learn and participate in your finances the more opportunities you will find. By the time you enter the waters of the markets you will be able to approach it in a calm manner and be ready to deal with what ever happens.
Even with my knowledge of sharks, I would have never considered doing this dive on my own. Terri (a very cheerful and fun women from Australia) was our dive master. With more than 300 dives and 50 shark dives under her belt, the rest of us listened carefully to her instruction and respected her knowledge. It gave us all greater comfort and confidence, and reduced a lot of the anxiety and stress! She coached us and put forth a comprehensive dive plan so we knew exactly what needed to be done and the likely outcome of the dives.
When it comes to your finances you should find a guide to help you. Your guide should be qualified with lots of experience. They should be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) with at least 5-10 years of experience. Your guide should prepare a comprehensive written financial plan so you know exactly what needs to be done and what will be the likely outcomes. This will help highlight the risks and dangers to help you make better decisions. This plan will give you greater comfort and confidence, and reduced a lot of the anxiety and stress!
Not all sharks are vicious.
Now some of you have looked at the pictures and thought: JAWS! when in reality these are not Great Whites. These are Black Tipped Reef sharks. They are active predators of small bony fishes, cephalopods, and crustaceans. They have little to no interest in people. There are many other types of sharks in the ocean, most of which are timid and scared of humans.
The same goes for financial service professionals. When you go looking for your guide beware the vicious ones! Start by speaking with friends and family – people you know and trust. Go to the Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC) to search for a CFP. http://www.fpsccanada.org/public/finding_planner Remeber that not all advisors are planners – ask them if they will prepare a comprehensive written financial plan and if they can provide you a sample of an annonymous one. Also remember that not all planners are out to sell you something. Some truely want to help you.
You don’t have to get bitten!
As we prepared for the dive one of the things Terri talked about were the risks and uncertainties involved (and man you should have seen the waiver we had to sign – AND have witnessed!). Having a lot of experience with these dives she also explained all the actions we were going to take to mitigate the risks and help to prevent some of the uncertainties. For instance – we all had to wear dark wetsuits for the dive – this helped to change the colour of our skin so we didn’t look the colour of the sharks fish food. Now our hands were still bear – so to mitigate the risk of the sharks MISTAKING them for a fish they might eat, we were told to keep our hands within our body and not use them for swimming (if you waived your hand around they may see the movement in the water and think it was food and you would lose your hand.).
So by doing your homework and understanding your finances while working with an experienced guide, can really help to reduce your risk. Your CFP can, through preparing a comprehensive written financial plan, identify all the potential risks you may face and develop strategies to mitigate those risks and uncertainties. An idea might be to chang the colour of your investments so they don’t get eaten by the markets!
Every shark for themself.
Watching Terri feed these beautiful creatures was an amazing sight of nature at its purist. When she pulled out a piece of fish and held it out for the sharks to eat, many turned and lunged at it with no consequence for the other sharks or anything else that swam between it and the food. As we divers knelt in the sandy bottom and watched the sharks swim in circles around us, you quickly realize that they don’t have the slightest interest in you. You are just another rock on the bottom, or creature of the ocean. When the fish bate was gone many of the sharks simply swam off in search of their next meal elsewhere. Everybody asks me if I was worried if the sharks would bite me, and my reply was “NO! I am not their food, and I am not threatening them – they have no interest in me!”
The same is true when it comes to your finances. If you dangle your investments in an ocean full of “sharks” you may get many lunging at it with no real consequence or care for what happens. If you don’t have a plan to manage your investments or direct what happens they will likely sit like rocks on the bottom of some investment account with little to know attention being paid to them. Many of the “sharks” in the financial industry are only interested as long as there is food. Once they have eaten and the food is gone, they simply swim off in search of their next meal. That why it is so important to work with a Certified Financial Planner who will help to monitor your investments and make sure your comprehensive written financial plan is being executed properly. Remember nobody cares more about your money than you do! If you haven’t heard from your “shark” in a while – then give them a call. Take care of what you have and you will have something to take care of you.
Another thing I learned is that if you want to have a successful event – BRING FOOD!