When this magazine got its start — a mere 30 years ago — our world was a very different place. Mood rings, lava lamps and pet rocks were all the rage. So was an immature, albeit breezy little activity called streaking. In addition, the DJIA was in a funk at around 700. Oil was about 13 bucks a barrel, and a gallon of gas was less than anything on McDonald’s dollar menu.
Today, suffice it to say, things just aren’t the same. Think about it from your clients’ point of view. Back in the good old days, your clients only had to worry about stocks and bonds. Now, they have to worry about stocks, bonds, collateralized mortgage obligations, puts, calls, collars, exchange-traded funds, subprime mortgages, indexed annuities, living benefit riders and a partridge in a pear tree.
Just for kicks, join me for a ride in the WABAC machine with Mr. Peabody and Sherman — but this time we’re going way ahead 30 years into the future. What exactly will your clients have to deal with in the year 2038? If you believe Al Gore, one thing will be wet feet because the melting polar ice caps will have water everywhere!
In addition to soggy socks, you can count on technology to make this an even smaller world than it is today. Never again will you be able to make the excuse that you were out of cell phone range. When you sign up a new client, he or she will be implanted with a computer chip that will allow him or her to telepathically ask you questions, 24/7, from anywhere in the world. Even in tunnels.
While this may sound great to the guy on the subway, scream-talking into his iPhone, for most of us, this will be a huge pain in the behind. Imagine the knee-jerk reactions for liquidations every time the DJIA dips a mere 10,000 points. Or how your head will be cluttered with thousands of voices every time the price of oil teeters above $25,000 a barrel. Yes, managing your clients’ instant expectations is going to require a great deal of skill, not to mention thick skin. It may very likely require a serious drinking habit as well.
Will clients complain in the future? Of course they will! They may say something like, “Why don’t you ever think back at me when I think you a question?” or “You should have known biodiesel was going to cause cancer!” or “What in the hell am I paying you for? I might as well do it myself at TDSchwab and Lynch!”