OPINION: Focus on the legacy you want to leave

By Jeanette Marais Time of article published Sep 30, 2019

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WE LIVE in a society of instant gratification. Google and Uber have become verbs - showing how accessible it has become to find information instantaneously and get a taxi to your doorstep in minutes. Click for takeaway food. Download a movie. Shop online. We post or tweet and are instantly heard by hundreds or even thousands of people.

Many of us believe we must constantly build our personal brands, and it becomes a full-time job to take pictures of your dinner and to sound like a social butterfly on a weekend. I went trout fishing. I dined at one of the trendiest restaurants, I have an opinion on a lovely white wine from a Cape wine farm.

But isn’t it comforting how certain things in life are timeless? Things such as family love, good coffee and home cooking. Heritage Month is a good time to look around and think a little about our lifestyles and what has enduring, long-term value.

In a crazy world, we want to belong again. We yearn for the basics - for the anchor of our heritage. That’s why we shouldn’t be caught at funerals lamenting that we never asked our grandparents to tell their stories, or, as grandparents, that we never told them. What were the values, the tales and the fantastic anecdotes that make up our history?

And equally important, how do we want to be remembered? What legacy do we want to leave? How much time did we have for people? How loyal were we, or trustworthy? Did we work hard, and were we creative?

Of the legacies that we can write up in a will, money is maybe the easiest to distribute. And, if our children have the right values, leaving them what we have built up with blood, sweat and tears will be used to support their journey to success.

So the way we approach our money today impacts the financial legacy we will leave tomorrow. Just as we have to take control of our social media usage, we have to limit emotional reactions and snap judgements when investing. To leave a lasting legacy the end goal must become the focus.

Shifting the focus away from trying to outperform a market benchmark and pinpointing your reasons for investing in the first place may be the way to go. This means having an adviser who understands your unique long-term investment goal. By connecting to the outcome you want to achieve, you focus on your end goal, instead of being disheartened by short-term underperformance that triggers switching. And switching is the greatest destroyer of capital.

Perhaps it’s time to quantify the legacies we want to leave - the personal ones, and the financial. And to make sure that we will endure in the long-term process of building them.

Jeanette Marais is the chief executive of Momentum Investments.

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