Brexit: When Regrets Come a Day Too Late

Yesterday, the world and global capital markets went into shock on the heels of Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.

Now, there’s a petition for a new referendum. As I pen this, two million people have called for a second vote.

Who knows where things will be by the time you read this.

But, a few things have been crystallized over the last 48 hours or so by this historical vote.

I am going to avoid the political landmine that this vote and result represent. However, most geo-political events that trigger worldwide economic shocks will also have a ripple effect on our personal finances. So, I do want to highlight some reminders and lessons for your consideration:

Financial professionals and experts are human

Okay, that’s not such a news-flash. But there’s a reason many financial traders, bankers and money managers didn’t see this coming. They made a wrong bet and were caught off-guard by the result – especially when you factor in the news that hit the “wires” around 10pm London time about “Remain” being in the lead. And just like you and I can fall prey to missing the clues that a train wreck is heading toward us, so can these professionals.

Financial markets abhor uncertainty and surprises

You and I crave certainty, too. We not only want to know we’re making a good decision, but that the outcome of it will match our desired end-result too.

Opportunities can hide in plain sight

Globally, the world markets lost $2 trillion dollars. Here in the U.S, the Dow Jones was down 600 points, or about 3.5%. More than likely the market value of your 401k and other investment portfolio/s are down. I couldn’t bear looking at my Betterment account, either. But 3.5% in the scheme of things isn’t that bad (give thanks to the stress test that are now required of banks and investment firms post the 2008 crisis). Of course, this presupposes you don’t need to “sell” any of your holdings to meet current needs. Truthfully, this is a perfect time to buy…hint, hint.

Global is the new local

Time will ultimately reveal the full impact Brexit will have on the U.S. economy and elsewhere and, more specifically, on your wallet. More immediately, your portfolio and savings accounts are affected. And depending upon where you work and in what industry, your job may be affected, too. As for long-term implications, time will tell…  But markets, companies and people always adjust to their new reality.

The questions you don’t ask, matter

In order to make an informed decision, you need to be informed. This is true whether you’re voting or considering any number of moves regarding your money. ‘Nuff said, eh?

All choices have consequences

Just because you didn’t anticipate a particular fall-out, it doesn’t remove the fact that there are ramifications for your choices. And while you can regret the outcome of your choice, unfortunately you can’t unwind “what came next” after your choice. There are times when I wish it weren’t so, but life simply doesn’t work that way.

All break-ups are messy

Even amicable break-ups and divorces get a little messy. Hard not to when when feelings, hopes, dreams and expectations are involved. It’ll likely take two years before the U.K. can complete it’s separation from the European Union – a lot of political and economic messiness can happen in that time as relationships are re-negotiated.

Planning for want you want matters

A poorly thought-out plan is better than not having a plan at all! Not only was most of the world shocked by the vote, but also by the lack of a clearly-articulated plan of what comes next.

Brexit will be a major news story for the days, weeks and months ahead. As some view the choice to “leave” as a political wake-up call for the U.S. (I agree.) I also believe it’s important to go behind-the-headlines and look for parallels of this event in our own lives:

You and I make choices – choices that are, at times, not fully informed.

You and I experience the consequences of said choice, and sometimes the ramifications have you, too, screaming, “Can I do this over…please?!”

Sometimes, our choices represent a turning-point, too.

You see, Brexit isn’t just a political and economic news story about something unfolding elsewhere.

It’s really a story about how we humans make choices, and whether the decisions we make are largely fueled by fear or a combination of facts, figures and bit of gut insight.

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