As the great and wise Dr. Seuss said, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” As humans and as advisers we need to continually learn and grow. If we don’t, we stay in the same place for years and stagnate. You’re growing, or you’re going. 2018 feels like it has been a particularly strong ‘growth’ year. It’s been one for contemplation and growth and I feel like, after being tested fairly significantly, we have learned a lot and come out stronger.

There have been many learnings for me 2018; some from observation, others from pain. Some are new but many reminders. In no particular order, here’s just a few:

  • It’s tough to go against the crowd, and it never gets easier.
  • Clients appreciate direct feedback.
  • Real value comes from real listening. And listening with your ears alone can be misleading. Human beings don’t always use words to explain what they really mean, and often don’t even know what they really mean.
  • The internet was built to be unstable and accessible, and that makes it impossible to keep the bad guys out. We need much greater security around assets.
  • Geopolitics is never the core issue behind price changes.
  • I wish I was interested in fewer topics.
  • Push your strength too far and it becomes a weakness.
  • Access to the right investments is the most undervalued service.
  • The most valuable advice is often the most surprising.
  • Talking is easy; communication is difficult.
  • The most common thing about clients is that they’re all different.
  • Nobody values the foundations no matter how hard they are to lay.
  • I can spot a typo from 30,000 feet.
  • Busy does not equal productive.
  • It can take a while, but assets can’t remain overpriced forever.
  • Sometimes the process of making a decision can be fun.
  • Even though I have done eight years of study, I’ll have to do another two.
And last, after much thought and analysis, I learned that I want to continue working with clients in an advisory capacity for the next 10 to 15 years, but with a greater focus on life strategies.

What surprised me this year:

I had no idea the royal commission was going to blow the industry so wide open. (There were no exposures that I didn’t know but it feels good to know our approach has been vindicated).
Trump’s tariff war seems so unsophisticated and the impact so obvious, but maybe I’m missing something.

A new app for spouses, or anyone in a conflicted relationship, especially divorce. It warns the sender that a text message may be misinterpreted by the reader and result in an adverse reaction, and suggests how to reword it.
Being rated the 29th best adviser in Australia in the Barron’s top 50 advisers (It’s nice but I’m not sure these surveys can ever be correct).
The 12-month returns to September 2018. I thought they would be lower.
The wonderful responses to this weekly Thinking About blog from clients.
What didn’t surprise me:

The price correction in Sydney property or US stock market.

As I reflect on 2018, it reminds me how much I appreciate the fact that I can actually reflect on this, and on the life we live in Australia. It has been quite a difficult year in many ways and in the ‘heat of battle’ it’s often too easy to lose sight of the real issues and get caught in the noise.

It has been a year of building stronger foundations at Sentinel Wealth, and I feel that we are ready for a very good 2019 and am already looking forward to it. I’d love to hear your learnings and surprises for 2018.