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The Role of Accountability in Financial Planning for Yacht Crews

Accountability for superyacht crew. Present You is accountable to Future You

A few years ago, we came to the conclusion that something was holding superyacht crew back from reaching their financial goals.

We’re not talking about superyacht crew who talk a good talk about financial planning but don’t actually do anything. They never squeeze the full financial benefit of working in yachting.

No, we’re talking about people who had put in the work to make a solid financial plan yet weren’t seeing it through to the end. The plan was good. They were excited about the wealth it would generate and full of energy at the start of their plan. But they didn’t achieve their goals.

Somewhere along the way, their commitment waned. In some cases that was inevitable. For example, when someone left the industry earlier than expected. That meant they no longer had the opportunity to fund their investments to the level that they could while working on board a superyacht.

But in many cases, people who were still in yachting either stopped funding their investments or cashed in their investments well before they reached maturity. Usually at the first sign of a headwind in the markets. Instead of keeping their eye on the long-term investment benefit, they reacted to the short-term investment dip. In some cases that can leave you badly out of pocket. In all cases, it leaves your financial plan in tatters.

So why were so many superyacht crew choosing to abandon their investments and their plans, rather than ride out the storm?

We realised that having a solid financial plan and choosing the investment vehicles to drive it weren’t enough to get superyacht crew to where they wanted to go. There was a missing ingredient.

Giving up is a short-term decision with long-term consequences

The missing ingredient was long-term commitment.

Short-term commitment is easy, especially at the start of a project when the excitement about it is at its highest. You’re champing at the bit to get started and your focus on the anticipated outcome is sky high.

But the thing is, financial planning isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. Starting a marathon is a piece of cake. Finishing it takes grit, determination, stamina and fortitude. And as anyone who has run a marathon will tell you, the hardest thing is keeping your commitment up—both during the months of training and during the event itself.

They will also tell you this: giving up in the face of short-term discomfort is a one-way ticket to regret. Phrases that contain ‘coulda’, ‘shoulda, ‘woulda’ thrive off a momentary discomfort that causes people to give up. Looking back they wish they coulda, shoulda, woulda kept going. The long-term gain massively outweighs the short-term pain. Be it in successful marathon running or in successful financial planning.

Short-term failure versus long-term success

The truth of the matter is this: accomplishing difficult things is difficult.

As superyacht crew, you have a remarkable opportunity to turn your career in yachting into lasting financial independence for yourself. But financial independence (in other words: never having to do what a boss tells you ever again) isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would be financially free.

But achieving financial freedom is simple. Just like a marathon is simple. All you have to do is run 42.2km in one go. Simple. But easy? That’s a whole different story.

The most difficult thing about any long-term effort is keeping going, no matter what happens. No long-term commitment is going to be plain sailing. Life just doesn’t work like that. You will face challenges and moments of genuine doubt.

Most people go for the easy option. They stop.

Successful people go for the hard option. They keep going.

The difference between you and a marathon runner is that the marathon runner knows beforehand that it’s going to be difficult at times. As a result, they are mentally prepared. When it does get tough, their inner coach kicks in. And, unless they are injured (in which case, stop), the inner coach will in most cases drive them on to the finish line.

But your finish line is much further away. Even the slowest runners will complete a marathon in 6 hours. You likely won’t achieve your financial finish line in 6 years. Being realistic, it’ll take 10 or 15 years, at least. That’s a very long time to keep your commitment levels high.

Successfully completing a financial plan is like completing a marathon: it requires consistent commitment over a long period of time.
Successfully completing a financial plan is like completing a marathon: it requires consistent commitment over a long period of time

Resisting peer pressure

Staying committed to your financial plan over a 10- to 15-year period is incredibly hard on your own. Not only will you have to face the inevitable challenges (dips in investment values, periods in between superyacht contracts, illness, etc), you’ll also have to filter out the huge amount of noise around you.

Let’s look at the latter first. The superyacht industry is filled to the brim with crew who have opinions on how to invest money and create wealth. And they aren’t shy about giving that advice. However, the reality is that very few, if any, of them will leave yachting financially independent. At best, they will have some money—but not as much as they could have had. At worst, they will have nothing.

Yet their opinions carry disproportionate weight, particularly when financial markets and investments face headwinds. And the solutions often voiced are short-term ones that undermine long-term success. Keeping a clear head and resisting peer pressure are understandably hard in these circumstances.

But keep in mind that their short-term suggestions for your financial plan aren’t founded on a long-term commitment to your financial success. Their priorities aren’t the same as yours. And they aren’t accountable to you if their advice proves the death knell for your future financial freedom.

Really, the only person accountable for your financial success is you. But, as we’ve already said, keeping yourself accountable so that your commitment to your financial plan and your financial goals stays intact is hard over the long run.

And that’s what we figured was missing from financial planning. Strong and dedicated support to keep you accountable to yourself and to keep your commitment to your financial goals topped up.

Don’t upset Future You

Ultimately, there are three versions of you:

Past You.

Present You.

Future You.

There is nothing you can do about Past You. Whatever it is Past You did has brought you to where you are today. Nothing changes that. Also, you can’t influence Past You’s life. Your actions today won’t affect Past You, so you aren’t accountable to Past You.

Future You is a different story. Future You is totally dependent on Present You. The actions of Present You directly impact the quality of life of Future You. You are most definitely accountable to Future You. What’s more, you will meet Future You at some point.

So answer this: do you want Future You to be proud of Present You, or full of regret that Present You didn’t take the unique financial opportunity to achieve financial freedom that superyacht crew have? Proud of what you’ve done versus full of regret at the missed chance?

Of course, it’s not like Future You can influence Present You. Future You can’t hold you accountable now. Future You doesn’t even exist yet. So despite having to carry all the consequences of your actions today, Future You is powerless to make you take action to benefit your future self.

By the same token, Present You probably doesn’t feel very accountable to Future You, even though you are. Present You is more likely to feel accountable to Present You. Unfortunately, Present You, just like everyone else in the present, is going to pay more attention to things happening right now, rather than abstract things that might happen in the future. Present You will make decisions based on what best suits you today.

So when it comes to making hard decisions in the present to keep your financial plan on track towards your future, it can be difficult to put your future ahead of your present.

Present You is a good person, though. Present You actually does want the best for Future You. What Present You needs is someone to hold you accountable—someone who will represent the interests of Future You. You need an accountability buddy. Even better, you need a structured accountability programme designed to keep your commitment to your financial plan at its peak, even when the going gets tough.

Achieving difficult things is difficult, just like climbing the highest mountain
Achieving difficult things is difficult, just like climbing the highest mountain. You’ll need to stay committed over a long period of time

Accountability is a superpower

While commitment is the missing ingredient of financial planning that we uncovered, accountability is the solution. Without accountability, your financial plan is missing a key part of the foundation it’s built on. So we designed a support programme to fill that gap: the YFSOL Partnership.

The YFSOL Partnership goes beyond annual or semi-annual check-ins to see how your financial plan and the investments driving it are performing. It goes beyond making the necessary adjustments in your investment portfolio in response to changes in the markets. Beyond taking stock of your career and broader life plans, and how they may have shifted over the past months. Beyond all that.

It’s designed to give Present You motivational tools when you need them to keep you focused on your end goals. It also gives you first-hand, from-the-horse’s-mouth investment insight and understanding from the people who manage the funds your money is in. On top of that, it also provides you with common sense life coaching and a friendly ear for you to consult when life seems to be undermining your life and financial plans.

Most important of all, the YFSOL Partnership, and how we work in general, is in partnership with Present You and Future You. We are Future You’s representative. Our job is to keep you accountable to Future You. Which is just another way of saying we keep you accountable to you and your dreams.

By the way, that also means we are accountable to someone too: Future You. When you think about it, Present You is our liaison officer and Future You is our actual client. Our intention is to make Future You very pleased indeed. And when you think about it, that’s a goal we share with Present You.

Having someone to keep you accountable to your financial plan means you don’t have to run the financial marathon on your own. You don’t have to complete it with only your own fortitude for company. We’ll be there every step of the way to encourage you to stay the course and help you find solutions when life, the financial markets and your investments throw you a curveball.

The first accountability challenge

All of this assumes that you even have a financial plan.

Most superyacht crew don’t. Creating a solid and effective financial plan takes time and effort. Many people don’t get beyond that first challenge. Their commitment evaporates almost immediately. You can practically hear Future Them wailing in anguish. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

If you want to make a financial plan, get yourself a financial accountability buddy. Find a reputable financial planner. It doesn’t have to be us, just as long as you work with an experienced financial expert who can guide you through the process and make sure you actually complete the planning phase.

Because if you don’t have a financial plan, you can’t achieve your financial dreams. And Future You is only going to hold one person accountable for failing to do so: YOU.

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