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How lack of emotions is stopping us from creating wealth.

Updated: Oct 28, 2023


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Would it be too bold a statement to say that our relationship with money reflects the strangest part of ourselves? Most often, we know exactly why we want money and what we would do with it.


However, when opportunity arises to deal with our finances, our thoughts and actions often lean towards the irrational.


Within my profession of accounting and tax planning I have been astonished to find many individuals who intentionally dismiss simple forms that would enable them a refund; refuse to take miniscule steps that would help shrink their taxes; and delay in correcting minor mistakes that would entitle them to tax-free money. These inactions involved significant sums that could have been pocketed, reaching tens of thousands and in one instance, over £200,000.


So, what is happening? Why do we consciously sabotage our best interests when it comes to our finances?


CAPITALOCULUS AVOIDANTIS


It seems that we could easily publish a psychiatric style handbook (DSM-5), focusing just on the psychological traits that affect our financial capabilities. Procrastination, fear, paralysis by analysis and distrust are common traits that have been observed. However, one condition stands out amongst my clients - Avoidance.


Capitaloculus Avoidantis: A disorder where individuals consciously evade knowledge of their own financial situation. This may be an entirely fictional disorder invented for the purposes of this blog, yet it still reflects a very real phenomenon.


Avoidance on matters of finance affect each of us at some point in life. Perhaps it strikes when we avoid checking our current balance on our banking app or change the topic when reminded of an expensive home improvement promise. Maybe we ignore the urge to contact a friend who owes us money and is now two months overdue. While some may find these scenarios alien, for many, they cause terrible anxiety that is avoided until it becomes inescapable.


Simply put, Capitaloculus Avoidantis convinces us that we do not need to act until it is absolutely necessary.


TAX INCENTIVES: BLESSING OR CURSE?


Accounting is a funny old business because opportunities that help clients become wealthier requires character traits that contradict most people's psychology. Tax planning, for instance, offers an array of tax incentives by the UK Government to reduce taxes, raise cheaper finances and extract maximum wealth. However, these incentives require individuals and companies to meet specific qualifying conditions. This means, one would need to plan and take proactive steps, months or sometimes years in advance.


Is it not ironic, that the Government expects us to plan our finances when we as proud tax-paying individuals, avoid taking action until absolutely necessary? This situation reminds me of W.W. Jacobs' story "The Monkey's Paw." It is as if the UK Government has given us accountants a monkey's paw that grants Financial Incentives instead of wishes! However, each Financial Incentive comes with a severe curse of avoidance, making it more of a burden than a blessing.


Why do we continue to avoid actions that serve our best interests?


IF YOU NEVER FELT IT, DON’T CRY FOR IT


Wherever I go, whether it be at the gym, a birthday party or at the barber’s; receiving a request for financial advice from someone is almost always guaranteed. However, I often refrain from directly answering any query, not because I don’t have the answer or because nothing in life is free. It is purely anticipated that any advice given will most likely be avoided. Instead, I often pose the following question to the individual, “What do you want to achieve from this?”


Listening intently to their wishes to save money or release more wealth or some other business rationale, I then ask, at times, repeatedly, “But what do you REALLY want to achieve from this?” As gruelling and awkward these conversations may get, individuals gradually open up about what the meaning of wealth is to them, on a personal level. They reveal how money relates to their hopes and dreams, personal ambitions and life frustrations. In short, I hear emotional reasoning behind why they need a particular issue resolved. I recognise at this point, that advice can be provided.


Every aspect of our lives is driven by emotions, whether we wish to face up to it or rank it in relation to intellect. We cannot escape from them. Our emotions are the only drivers that get people to act, purchase and fight.


However, after years of experience as an accountant, I arrived at a startling conclusion - only 1 in 20 people are ready to utilise the best financial opportunities available to them. The reason for such a small number is not because individuals do not qualify for great opportunities. It is simply due to most people not having an honest emotional connection to such opportunities and their outcomes. Without these emotional connections, most people just ‘avoid’ taking the simple actions needed to fully benefit from such opportunities.


Most of us are not fortunate to become inherently wealthy. We might complain about our financial situations and regret our past inactions; but on some deeper level, we are also perfectly content ignoring opportunities for becoming wealthier. By this, I don’t mean rich. I have met with many rich people, and I was able to demonstrate how even they could become two-three times richer if they too simply followed a few small steps, at the right time in their lives. That’s right; even rich people avoid getting richer!


“RICH DAD POOR DAD”, EMOTIONAL DAD


To become wealthy then is to hold a specific type of mindset that is driven by our emotions, to actively seek out and optimise all available opportunities to maximise our wealth. Whether we fill in a form because of feeling a sense of fear of missing out or applying for that refund because of feelings of injustice against some restrictive law or just seeking to reducing taxes in order to feel at peace that our children will live better lives; our emotional connection to the outcome is an essential ingredient to becoming wealthy.


This is what I feel is missing from the always in-demand financial bible, “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. It is not just that the Rich Dad has more financial education, takes more risks or knows how to leverage others’ money to build his own wealth; rather, he has a stronger emotional connection to what money means to him. Wealth is more than just fantasies of luxury and power; it is that deep personal and emotional connection, that gives money its purpose and value.


But does that mean we should accept our avoidant personalities and walk away from great financial opportunities, just because we cannot fathom an emotional connection to their outcomes? Absolutely not!


OUTSOURCE YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS


The first step is to acknowledge our tendency of prolonged avoidance. Once we recognise this trait, we can seek ways to overcome it and embrace actions that serve our self-interests.

Once we have acknowledged our levels of avoidance, the next step is to diversify our team. Surround yourself with people who think and feel differently from you. Your team does not have to be limited to employees; it can include family and friends who play an active role in your life. But what makes them useful to you is that they respond to the episodes of your life with different emotions. For some they are protective of you, for others they inspire you, compete with you ( and thus encourage you to be better), or simply rile up your anger so that you go and fight the good fight.


The key is to discuss your financial opportunities with these people in order to seek out their emotional responses to your situation and let their enthusiasm inspire you into action. Many clients involve their spouses in key decision-making, others include trusted friends as soundboards and some join internet forums for anonymous discussions. The goal is to bring focus to our financial situations and motivate us to act upon them.


Formal structures can also be established to include trusted members of your family and friends to assist you in life:


1. Pay them to do it: If a family member or friend is willing to undertake administrative tasks like filling out forms, making calls, conducting research or negotiating on your behalf, you can formally hire them. HMRC offers a Trading Allowance that enables them to earn £1,000 tax-free a year for such work (subject to certain conditions).


2. Joint Ventures: Consider partnering with a well-connected family member or friend who specialises in certain fields. By undertaking financial opportunities together, you can leverage from their strengths and productivity. Just remember to formally agree how the work and the rewards are to be distributed. You might end up getting 50% of such opportunities, which surely is better than getting nothing!


3. Incorporate the task into the workforce: If you have an employee who is responsible for procurement, research, finance/accounting or costing/budgeting; negotiate to include research of financial opportunities into their contract.


HOW IJB STRATEGIA CAN HELP


At IJB Strategia, we offer a range of services to our clients. Our Tax Health service assesses all available financial incentives for you, your household and businesses. We go beyond assessment, by passionately undertaking the necessary work to help you qualify for those incentives. This leaves you free to focus on the things that matter more to you, your family, and businesses.



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