Why I struggle with the “best”

I will come to the point, I loathe the suggestion that something is the best. Whatever is given the title “best” is entirely subjective. Best film, best song, best politician, best car.. or something bearing the words “World’s Best Mum / Dad”… really?…. presented by who? out of a choice of how many? Oh… so no, not really the world’s best, just mine.. (sorry Mum and Dad) it’s simply the thought that hey, you are a great Mum / Dad and it’s the thought behind it, wanting to recognise something good… nobody takes it too seriously, it is harmless. So no problem.

Similarly when the i-phone 7 was launched, “It’s the best i-phone that we have ever created”…. Er… surely one would hope that it was, given that its meant to be an improvement, otherwise please lets simply stick with the one we have (which I will probably do anyway). If you are in the technology industry and not making things better, you will have a very short shelf-life.

The best investment fund

Ok, so I’m being pedantic, sorry… but here comes the point when it relates to financial services. There is no “best fund” there is no “best investment” or “best pension” that is all utter twaddle. There is no “best adviser”, “best buy” no “best firm” no, not even a “best financial plan”. This is nothing more than reductionist nonsense. A good financial adviser (better still a financial planner) is not paid to pick “best”… yes you heard it here.

There is always one fund that is top of the performance list…. on one day over one timeframe, but that was top, not best and it will change, by changing one of many variables.  It’s important to me that clients are not told that something is the very best… because that is entirely misleading. What is fair to say is that something is suitable (really/very/highly/ blah blah..) and the “best for you” given X, Y or Z but that’s true today and may not be accurate next year. It is about context. We do our “best” in providing clear advice that isn’t sensationalist and doesn’t exaggerate, we want expectations to be realistic not false. The media and urban myth have already raised expectations well beyond what is realistic… we all want low risk and high returns, but that’s simply not going to happen. Financial advisers are not magicians (who it turns out, are also not magicians but illusionists).

Delusion, denial or simply daft ?

Similarly, this week I also heard the phrase “I over-exaggerated” it was used by the American 4x200m freestyle relay gold medallist Ryan Lochte, (who has now been banned from competitions for 10 months following his behaviour in Rio). In connection with his story, he said that he “over-exaggerated”. Mr Lochte you cannot over-exaggerate; you just do (exaggerate). In any event it wasn’t an exaggeration, it was a lie, something that he appears still unable to admit.

So when you are at a dinner party or a social event and someone is claiming how their portfolio is managed by the best, that they are generating the best returns, don’t get taken in. There is no such thing. No investor enjoys the best returns endlessly. We are all making the best of what we have within the limitations of being human and decidedly ordinary. When it comes to investing or financial services, your unique context and circumstances are the most important relevant details. What was best last week or in 2008, 1995 or even 1066 just isn’t your context today. As for politicians talking about the best education or the best healthcare, well… no, I’ll leave it there… well here.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk