When Networking Goes Wrong

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about the benefits of networking, wonderful tool that it is. At the centre of networking, we’re all seeking referrals. I have spent 17 years networking in a structured way and have built a business around it. It has helped us secure the right kind of clients in that business over this time and I have learned a lot about how networking works; the benefits to all involved and the inherent risks that accompany it.

When seeking referrals, we must be very specific about who our target is. We must not only convey who we do want to meet but also those we don’t. This is not elitist, it is simply ensuring that you are introduced to the people who will be the best fit for you and your business. What do you want these people to deliver to you? Is it the everyday bread and butter of your business, or are you looking for your premium customer or client who is in interested in the best that you have to offer? Also, will these clients be long term or short term ones? You must know the answers to these questions before you go into any meeting (or one to one) so that you can convey it clearly to your network. This saves everybody time. If you have an idea of who in your network has this kind of contacts, it allows you to be even more focussed in your networking efforts.

Receiving a referral from a trusted member of your network group is a significant endorsement of you and your business and should be relished as such. Remember, if you have been referred it took a lot of trust and confidence on the part of the referrer to make that judgement about you. It says I see the value in what you do, I like the way you work and I can trust this person to you.

Receiving a referral marks you out as an authority in your field.

However, things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes mistakes can be made and the situation takes a turn for the worse. When you’re working in this world of referrals, you are dealing with personal reputations, good names that have been built up over years. These are at risk when you make a referral and when it goes horribly wrong people change their mind about you; whether you had a hand in the problem or not. You are the one who recommended the referral and so, you can be held responsible for the mess. All the work that you put in to nurture that relationship can be undone in one short misstep by your network partner.

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The old adage applies, when you do something good for someone they will tell two or three people, but when you do something wrong, they’ll tell ten. If those ten people happen to be members of your network, it’ll be as though you’ve got the plague! No-one will come near you and you will have a huge hill to climb to recover your position.

When a network partner lets you down by not delivering the service that you believed they would, or when the person in receipt of service reneges on payment, the situation needs to be dealt with by you swiftly and forcefully. You have worked very hard to win your good reputation and should not allow it to be trashed by anyone. Dealing with the matter swiftly is your only option. Doing so shows the injured party that you acted in good faith and did not foresee the difficulties that have arisen. This can go some way towards repairing your relationship. Speaking to the person who has let you down gives them an opportunity to understand just how much value you put in your network contacts. Sometimes not everyone appreciates how important a situation is in our eyes. Having this conversation may also allow for reconciliation to occur, if not now, at some point in the future.

Sometimes the decision to make a referral or not can come down to that gut feeling you have about another person. Do you trust them, really trust them? If something inside tells you that it’s a bit risky, then by all means, do not pass on the referral. Just because there is an opportunity to make a referral does not always mean that you should. It is ok to step back now and again to evaluate the situation, remember when you make a referral there are three people involved, if it goes well then everybody wins – but if it goes wrong, two people, one of whom will be you could end up hurt and damaged by an error in judgement.

Business relationships are built on trust and confidence, two things we do not want to lose. Networking is about more than just securing yourself new business, it is about creating a community of trusted individuals who can support each other through the highs and lows of running a business. Make building good relationships your primary aim in networking and you won’t go too far wrong.

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Networking – How does it actually work?

Business Communication Duplicate model

Last week’s blog post gave an introduction to networking. Today, we’ll look at how it works in more detail.

When I first joined network groups it seemed as if I had become a member of a secret society. There was a whole new language to be learned ‘One to One’, ‘Sixty Seconds’, the ‘Power Groups’- what did all these phrases mean? It became evident over time that some members of the group understood this coded language, while others did not. Those that didn’t ‘get’ the language ended up leaving the groups, disappointed.

My experience of helping to run network groups led me to understand the importance of explaining to new members that it would take an adjustment period of a few weeks before they would understand the way that things worked and the language involved. That they should invest this time before deciding whether they wanted to join or not. This would give them the opportunity to understand the relationships that we were cultivating in the group and how we went about building those relationships and the structures that are in place to reinforce those relationships over time.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, there are two pillars upon which networking is built – Trust and Confidence. Everything that happens in and around a network group is focused on developing those two elements so that networks can deliver what the members want for themselves.

A regular occurrence at a network is meeting is the so-called ‘Sixty Seconds’. This is where a member has the opportunity to stand up and introduce themselves to the group. They explain who they are, what they actually do in their business, who they would like to meet and the kind of business referrals that they are hoping to receive. There are essentially three parts to a Sixty Seconds presentation – who you are, what you do and who you want to meet. You need to deliver this message clearly at the business networking event, but also listen carefully when others are giving their presentations as this tells you precisely who they are and why they’re here. This is the foundation upon which you can build a relationship with them. The message that you deliver in your Sixty Seconds needs to be repeated again and again. There are reasons for this that I will explore in later posts.

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A ‘one to one’ is another key part of the networking process. These meetings are arranged by two members of the network for a time outside of the normal network meeting. This gives you an opportunity to learn about them in a very specific way that allows you both to grow a symbiotic relationship. This time, invested in this two-party relationship gives you time to build trust, as you both show up with a desire to help the other person. Through these meetings, you can build a vivid picture of what their ideal referral looks like, sometimes this is a straight forward process, but other times it is a little more complex and requires time so that you can establish how precisely this new network colleague provides benefit to their clients, what it is that their clients value most about them. When you know this, it is so much easier to choose the right person to refer to them.

Power groups or synergy groups are businesses and individuals whose activities have a natural affinity with one another. For example, a mortgage intermediary will have a natural relationship with accountants, solicitors, and auctioneers. They can pass business to each other every day of the week because they operate within the same area without competing with each other. To do so, they have to build a trust relationship and have trust in each other both as people and as skilled workers. Think of those businesses which are within your own area but with whom you do not compete, these are the contacts who may be able to provide you with a steady flow of referrals.

Sometimes the value of networking does not manifest itself in terms of the business it generates for you, but in the value that you can deliver to the people who you do business with every day, by helping them to solve their problems. In doing so, you create value for your clients which has absolutely nothing to do with the product or service you sell. You become a valuable resource which the client cannot do without. You become indispensable.

Regardless of what industry you are in, the principles of networking remain the same. The focus should be on the people involved and on building solid relationships. At the end of the day, we all do business with people, preferably people we know, understand and trust. Networking is the best framework I know of to build this type of relationship.

Networking – How to create value in the New Year!

We are in the early days of a New year, 365 new days laid out at our feet. Business is looking good, the world economy is – well, where it is, and planning for the year ahead is on many people’s minds. Where will we get business from this year, and beyond?

One of the areas mentioned in a previous post was Networking.

For some, the power of networking has proved elusive. I would like to explore some of the reasons that it may not work for some people. It is an amazing tool which people use every day of the week without even realising it. I have heard people say ‘networking doesn’t work for me’. Those who say this are not giving themselves the credit they deserve for the non-structured networking they do every day.

For example, when they need to get work carried out in their home or on their car or business, usually they will turn to a friend or colleague and ask for a name of someone who they trust to carry out this work. Simply asking ‘who did you get to do that?’ is networking. It is using another persons’ contacts to make a connection with someone else who they trust for their mutual benefit. That is what networking is about.  This simple concept addresses the question of how to get people to work with you to provide benefit to you and your business and those that you work with.

A lot of people try out networking but often let their efforts drop off because they don’t find that it’s working for them. Perhaps they had unrealistic expectations in the beginning, or perhaps they did not know what to expect. Networking requires a solid effort on behalf of each person, so we must consider what we need to put into networking as well as what we might get out of it.

Networking has been a fantastic tool in our business, it has also created significant growth in the number of strong relationships we enjoy with other business owners that have lasted the test of time. These relationships are reciprocal ones which benefit everyone involved. They have led to a great many interesting and productive discussions with colleagues and they have also led to lasting friendships.

Networking, which is built on the foundation of personal relationships, takes personal commitment – and time. Trust and confidence must be built between the parties before any referrals for business can be arranged. Networking requires homework, you need to think about who you might refer to another person, and whether these two parties will work well together.

I have seen on many occasions that a new member who joins a network last about two or three meetings. During this time, they buzz around full of enthusiasm, they collect cards and have conversations with people but then, suddenly, they’re gone. Perhaps they don’t have the time to put into nurturing their network. None of us can expect other business owners to put their full trust and reputation in the hands of someone who they have only just met. As small business owners, we understand how long it takes to gain the trust of our clients and customers, and so, we do not hand that over easily. As networkers, we must be prepared to invest first, to build relationships which will pay dividends over the longer term.

I recall somebody once likening the experience of calling to prospective clients to an old village water pump. You know the ones, they have a big long handle and you have to pump and pump and pump. Just when you think you might keel over from exhaustion you catch the faint gurgle of water in the pipe. You are almost there! But, if you stop pumping now the water will go right back to the bottom and all will be lost! If you stay at it just a little bit longer the water will flow and then it will only need a slow steady effort to maintain the flow, while you enjoy all the water you need. Networking is the same.

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Take your time with networking. Commit to meeting the other person and get to know them. Find out who they are and what they do, and what their existing reputation is. Let them know who you are, too. Let them know how you do what you do and what is important to you. Provide them with the opportunity to explore how good your reputation is. Trust and confidence are integral to networking, so both parties need to establish for themselves whether they can trust and have confidence in their new contact.

Do not fall into the trap of selling to the network. Networking is about building relationships with others. your network partners may choose to do business with you if they have a need. However, their primary function is to introduce you to others with whom you can do business while your partnership remains reciprocal. In a situation where you both sell to each other, the task at hand, networking, gets neglected. Although you may get some immediate business out of it, you will not succeed in building your network as you had set out to do.

When a person joins a network, they are bringing a whole host of people, with whom they have existing close relationships with, to the network. This group of people is trusted and respected by the new networker, sometimes they are some of their best customers, they are the people who sustain their livelihood. The day that the new networker introduces one of these cherished contacts to a member of their new network, they are exposing themselves to a risk. They are the one who has made the introduction, the one who has said to each party, this person is trustworthy, I recommend them. This can be a dangerous place to be if you do not trust each party completely.

The person that you have referred this contact to may not respect your relationship with the other person. They may damage it, and in doing so, damage your reputation among your own extended network. As we well know, negative news can spread like wildfire. Therefore, networking takes time, we need to build that Trust and Confidence over time to protect not only ourselves and our reputation, but our network of trusted contacts who are worth their weight in gold.

The benefit of networking is that you will get the quality referrals to quality clients that you are looking for. They will add value to you and your business and will deliver repeat business while widening your network. The Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule means that we will get 80% of our business from 20% of our clients. We are all searching for those quality clients, the ones that fit into that 20%, and through networking, we can find them.

There are many established networks which you can explore, such as BNI, Venture, and the Chambers of Commerce in your local area. If you do not see that there is a business networking group established within your area talk to your Chamber of Commerce about building one. You could join the BNI initially, to see how they operate, and then build your own local network.

Does networking work? Yes, it does. But give yourself the chance to let it work for you. Invest time and effort into your network and watch it grow for the benefit of all.

Getting Out of Your Depth – Caution Advised!

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A long ago I learned to swim. I was 6 or 7 years old and my dad taught myself and my brothers to swim along the sandy beaches on Dublin’s north side. Once we had achieved a level of competency we were always told to swim parallel to the shore. But as part of our fun, inquisitively, we walked out to see just how far we could go while keeping our toes on the seabed without letting the water touch our chins. At this point, we were just about out of our depth. Then we swam along the beach as our dad had told us to.

The beach was never completely flat, as we assumed. Occasionally, when we stopped and tried to put our feet down, suddenly, the bottom wasn’t there. As novice swimmers, we had only two choices – use what we had learned to swim back towards shore, or panic. Panic was not an option, so we swam closer to the shore to where we could stand comfortably again.

Slowly, but surely, in our attempts to enjoy ourselves, we had done the one thing our parents had told us never to do – get out of our depth.

That lesson is an easy one to learn and sometimes when running a business, we swim too far and end up out of our depth without even knowing it.

It was alright as a child when swimming on the beach with our dad nearby to lift us up if we started to struggle. Instinctively, at that time, we would know what to do to ensure we got back to safe territory without delay. But, it’s not so simple when you’re running your own business. The temptation is always there to go a little bit further in pursuit of an opportunity.

Even though the surroundings might seem familiar, you are operating within your area of competency, but it’s easy to get out of your depth without realising it.

Perhaps your competency is being questioned, or your ability to deliver. As you are in charge everybody depends on your decision-making process, which creates huge levels of stress and fear.

The fear of failure can be paralysing. Indecision, loss of belief, fear of loss of respect…

That paralysis can also invade our personal lives. We don’t leave it in the office, it starts to follow us around when we go home on evenings and at weekends. We live in a world where admitting that we are out of our depth can often be very difficult to do. In business, we face the situation where a failure can be very public and humiliating which leads us to draw heavily upon our personal support structures.

Getting out of our depth in business, just as in the sea, poses very serious consequences. Consequences which we must face up to.

Swimming for the shore may seem, to the outside observer, like the obvious course of action. However, when we are caught up in a panic, we do not always choose this route. The route we do take can cause damage to our business, both in terms of revenue and the relationships we have built up over time. It can be career limiting.

Not being able to admit that such an issue is impacting on you can cause stress, high blood pressure, and other more serious health concerns. Really we ought to address the problem head-on; this is, of course, easier said than done.

The biggest impediment to solving a problem such as being out of your depth is the fear of losing face. Nobody wants to look bad, and so we struggle on, sure that we can patch things up somehow. This especially true when you have a team of people looking to you for guidance and leadership. It is not an easy place to be, especially when our own negative self-doubts try to sabotage our next move. Where do you turn to when you need support to get through these challenges?

This situation can be dangerous if you do not have a solid, reinforced support structure to lean on in times of doubt. But, we can’t expect to have a support structure in place if we haven’t taken the time to nurture one.

There are those who can support us within the work setting. For example, there may be someone with whom you can discuss your fears knowing that it won’t go any further. If you operate with a small team, identifying that one person who you can confide in and nurturing that relationship over time will pay off.

At home, discussing your concerns with your spouse or life partner can help to deepen your relationship. Although we tend to not want to worry our loved ones, keeping worries bottled up does not help. 9 times out of 10 they know that something is wrong anyway, so you might as well come clean!

Peer support is also hugely beneficial – whether that be your peers at work or outside it. Many of us know other business people who encounter similar problems to our own. Taking the leap to create a relationship where you can discuss concerns openly will benefit you both and create a solid friendship. But, peer relationships need not just be work ones. If there is something really bothering you, why not try to broach it with a friend from a completely different industry? They may not understand the intricacies of the situation, but they might provide a different insight you had never imagined.

We all get out of our depth from time to time. When we strive for growth, sometimes we overshoot the mark and end up in trouble.

It happens, we’re only human. But don’t let yourself drown for the sake of asking for a little help. Make building your support structure a priority. You can be there for them when they need it, and when it’s your turn, they’ll be there for you.

Planning for 2017 – ‘To Infinity & Beyond!’?

Buzz Lightyear in Flight

I remember a long time ago, thirty years ago now, when I had a ‘real job’. I was working for an insurance company and we were handed out our planning targets for the new year just before Christmas. The numbers had taken a significant jump and one of my co-workers asked the question why had they taken this hike. This was back in the 1980’s, the recession was biting hard and it seemed as though the company were putting us under substantial increased pressure to perform. The answer which the company gave in response to this query was no more eloquent than ‘because I say so’.

This situation did nothing for team morale among those who would have to implement the new programme. It certainly didn’t help our outlook on the financial year end, which was fast approaching. Instead of motivating us, the company told us to just get out there and make it happen. What a way to plan the future. I hope that most company’s attitudes have moved on somewhat since then.

Create a Vision

As part of our financial planning process, we talk to our clients about the type of vision that they have for their future.

  • Who owns that vision?
  • How long does that vision last for?
  • Have they thought about where that vision might take them?
  • What steps do we need to take to realise that vision?

These are some of the considerations that arise. Planning for the future involves a long road, and it requires that everyone involved needs to be on board with both the vision and the plan.

Change

Planning involves change. And nobody likes change. It’s the most uncomfortable thing that we meet in life. To arrive at the future we have envisaged for ourselves, we need to change professionally, personally and financially. Although many people start into a new year with ideas about changing certain things in the next 12 months, they should also keep an eye on the long-term goals stretching beyond 2017. Planning in this way, by creating a long-term vision can sometimes be the most difficult thing to do but creating short term markers can help.

Although planning needs to be long-term, there is also a need to provide ourselves with interim goals. These markers on the road to success let us know that we’re going in the right direction. And this is what we should aim to do at the end, or beginning of each year. 2016 brought many surprises which most of us did not foresee, and now 2017 is laying ahead of us, no doubt with its own tricks up its sleeve. Despite this, we can still put plans in place, decide what we want to change or improve upon over the next twelve months.

Most of the clients we deal with are professionals and executives, people who manage businesses, and who can recognise that there is never just one way of doing things. They also have the vision to be able to see a different future from the reality of today. Visualising your future is a key part of planning for your future. If you don’t have a picture, then you can’t make that a reality. You have to create this vision for yourself and then own it. This is a serious part of the planning process.

It Involves Everyone

When we decide to make a change, who should we involve in that decision-making process? There are obvious people who will be involved, such as colleagues at work, when it is a work-based decision. However, there are others who need to be considered too. The key people within your family should be involved before a significant change is embarked upon, particularly when it will directly impact upon them and their lives.

If having achieved all your plans, and in three years from now you can say ‘I have succeeded!’ What had to change to make that success possible? Listing out these things can help you in the planning stages. Also, take a moment, in that vision three years down the road to see where you are. What does the world look like then that is different to now? Is it what you really want for yourself? If yes, then you know you’re on the right track, if not, now is the time to tweak your vision and your plans.

Do You Need to Change?

Is what you’re doing at present going to deliver the future that you are hoping for? When you change things, there are risks involved, and there is a price to be paid. Is the risk that you are thinking of taking going to be worth it at the end of the day? This, again, may involve more people than just yourself. Do the other people in your life subscribe to the vision in the same way you do? If not, are you justified in asking them to pay for it?

Remember, we are on a long road. The question is ‘to where?’ We’re not Buzz Lightyear, we don’t want to set off to the furthest point from where we are now, regardless of direction. We want to get to a specific point, to the place where you can deliver the future that works for you, your family and those who work with you.

As we approach the end of the year, now is a good time to think about those changes you may want to make in the new year. Give your plan the adequate time and consideration it deserves so that it stands the best chance of success.

How to ensure you’re happy with your investments

Investments

Since I have gotten into this business, the most common thing I hear from clients is ‘I want to secure the best return on my money’. The benchmarks that people use have always been very simple, for example, ‘if I had put that amount into the post office, I would have gotten more than that!’ Our clients hand over their money and they have expectations around what will happen to that sum of money. When a client hands over their wealth like this they create a responsibility on the advisor’s shoulders to meet their competing future needs.

When, in the year 2000, the Central Bank entered the equation, they introduced Consumer Compliance Requirements which are paramount in regulating the market in a specific way. The Central Bank’s regulations are there to protect both clients and the advisors, ensuring that we provide a proper service for our clients, and do not get caught up in selling them a product which is not going to produce the returns that they need.

When a client asks me ‘where should I put my money?’ I look at the person who is sitting in front of me. I consider their lifestyle and the needs that they have today, the needs that will arise for them in the future, and the one’s that will arise when they are no longer with us. The lifestyle people live now must be supported by income, assets or the liquidation of assets. The income that they need tomorrow, (usually when people talk of ‘tomorrow’ they are referring to their retirement) will be supported by the assets that they have then. We also must be conscious that a person may die between now and that speculative date in the future. In such an instance, their loved ones will have to deal with the investments. And if they are overly complicated, or tied up and not available as a source of income to the family, this can cause difficulties in sorting out an estate.

When it comes to discussing risk with people in terms of their investment portfolios, we now have available to us, very comprehensive tools. In our own office, we use a tool which comes from Australia, which allows us to comprehensively discover our client’s real attitude towards risk, and therefore what level of risk they should incorporate into their portfolios. Our clients tell us that this gives them peace of mind. The more comfortable they are with their investments the lower element of risk is, as perceived by them. But risk profiling can be implemented as a selling tool. It meets the standards of the providers and the regulations of the Central Bank, but may not, in itself, deliver the returns that the client needs to support their lifestyle commitments in the short and longer term.

There have been some books which we found indispensable in helping our clients to understand the value that we bring and the value of their investments. Bill Bacharach’s book, Values Based Financial Planning, almost sells out every time it’s printed. This book helps people to understand their own values and what they want their money to do for them. Tim Hale’s book Smarter Investing is a detailed roam across the investment markets and his thoughts in relation to how the equity portfolio should be constructed. He looks at stocks and shares and how the level of risk should be managed within a client’s portfolio. An excellent, though perhaps more difficult book to get through, is George Kinder’s The Seven Stages of Money Maturity.  It can be quite a read, difficult to understand at times, but he does put the investments in the context of people’s lives and how people’s attitude towards risk changes as they move through their life’s journey. The latest book available is Paul Armson’s, Enough – How Much Money do You Need for the Rest of Your Life? He asks the blunt question, ‘how much do you really need?’ He then puts it into context in terms of lifestyle and cash-flow planning, an area we particularly specialise in.

There are so many competing demands in our client’s lives, that we, as advisors, have to meet. Investments are available in their thousands, ranging from investing in two flies going up a wall to putting your money in the post office. Getting the mix right for clients takes a considerable amount of time, thought, and respect for both the client and the investment they are about to make. We must also question that this is the right thing, from our own point of view, as this decision will impact on our client’s lives into the future, and if we make incorrect choices for them they will pay the price. Our job is to provide comfort, peace of mind and security for our clients. When we’re investing money and I’m asked the question ‘What’s the best investment I should be in?’, that question is like asking how long is a piece of string! It is not straight forward or simple and demands serious consideration by both parties before coming to any decisions.

‘Don’t Worry! It’ll Never Happen To Me’

Time to get serious about Serious Illness Cover

Yesterday I had arranged to meet a friend of mine on the south side of the city. To do this I had to travel down the M50 motorway and the first thing I heard when I switched on the radio was that there had been a crash at the famous Red Cow Roundabout and that the traffic was delayed in the northwards direction by over an hour.

Labours Investment In NHS Not Getting Through To The Front-Line.

The traffic was also bad on the N4 on the approach to the M50. It was particularly heavy and slow moving. On this stretch, you can travel at upwards of 80 kph, but we were reduced to approx. 60 kph. Here I spotted a white car weaving its way through the traffic. The driver, a young professional, was on the mobile. Horns honked in various directions as this driver attempted to get some sort of advantage in the heavy traffic. The car then dived from the outside lane to an exit off the motorway as it became clear just how congested the traffic was up ahead.

Although the traffic on the M50 was still backed up in one direction, by the time I reached it going south the traffic was clear, but slow moving. Again, I met more cars weaving through the traffic, giving some other motorists a fright, as they scurried off in the direction of their destination with as much haste as they could muster. These self-possessed ‘weavers’ seemed to be totally oblivious of the damage they can do to themselves and others as they drive on autopilot.

A TV programme watched regularly in our home is a Channel 4 production called 24 Hours in A & E. It follows twenty-four hours in the emergency room at St. George’s Hospital, of one of the busiest hospitals in London. On that show, we see people coming in and out of hospital all day, every day. Some fall off bikes, slip off roofs any many are involved in car crashes, this A & E sees it all.

What is so interesting about the programme is that it shows both the family’s reaction to trauma as well as the attitudes of the staff who encounter such events every day of their life. The impact of these little moments split seconds in the life of a person, are shown through how the patient reacts and, hopefully, recovers. And the shock and trauma that these incidents cause for all the people who know and love them. At the end of each programme, we find out how the patient recovered and how soon, or if, they were able to return to their normal, everyday life. While some, unfortunately, pass away as a result of their injuries most make a full recovery within days or weeks. However, the reality is that others have to remain in long-term care for sometimes months or years.

Yesterday, on returning to the office I received a phone call from a client who lives in a neighbouring town. This self-employed person recently decided to reduce their working time to 2 days a week based on their own circumstances. The purpose of the call was to check whether they ought to maintain their serious illness cover and personal protection plans. While we discussed cost versus benefit some questions arose. The main one was whether that person sees themselves getting sick in the next year or two. Nobody plans to get sick, or have an accident; it just happens. We all hope that we will remain in good health throughout our lives and though we do our best to safeguard ourselves against illness, there are no guarantees.

For self-employed people, our personal health and well-being is one of the most important things in our business. We cannot afford to get sick, to get hurt or injured in any way unless our business is setup in such a way that it can function 100% without its key person.

As a financial advisor, one of my roles is to help people preserve their income and lifestyle no matter what happens. What I saw yesterday, the dangerous driving and the crash at the Red Cow had the potential to change people’s lives forever.

When someone gets sick or injured, one of the first practical concerns to arise is where will the money come from to pay the bills. The groceries still need to be bought, the gas and electricity paid for and the mortgage tended to, but besides all these everyday items, there are also extra costs. Medical bills, pharmacy expenses, rehabilitation and in the more extreme cases, there may be architectural and building expenses involved where a home needs to be wheelchair accessible.

We see these events every day in the world around us, but we never think that it will happen to us. It is part of my job to help people to visualise the possibilities that life can bring, both positive and negative. I have to help my clients see that the worst can happen – only then can we take steps to ensure that we are not left high & dry when it does.

Lives got changed yesterday. There were two more serious collisions on the roads around Dublin later in the day. And no doubt it will happen again today. This is not something that people want to think about. We don’t ever want to imagine it being us. But if we set aside the fear for a moment, we can – and should – ask ourselves, ‘do I want to preserve my income and my lifestyle no matter what happens?’ If so, action is called for.