Financial Planning as Architecture


Financial planning as architecture

I don’t know why, but I love architectural drawings, I have done for as long as I can remember. Perhaps it has something to do with childhood and making things, imagining new worlds or ways of being. I didn’t become an architect because, whilst my maths was good, I was, as a schoolboy rather hopeless at Physics, which I was told was vital to a successful career as an architect. Those that know me, will perhaps recall that I sometimes refer to what I do as financial architecture, designing a plan is much like designing a building, but it is on its own useless unless acted upon (and built).

I’ve been mulling over how I develop the firm. How do we do things differently, so that they are radical, clear and distinct whilst being of the highest quality that we can create. This has been a particular frustration this week due to the replacement of something as simple as a printer. Ours was at the end of its 6 year life, it had been state of the art, but actually rather too big for what we required in 2014. The replacement is worse despite supposedly having the advantage of 6 years technological advancement, it cannot or will not print on our high quality paper and initially it spewed most of it onto the floor. We still are not at the end of this tedious trial of wits. But it did remind me of Steve Jobs asking how on earth his team had managed to design a word processor without any font choice… kind of the entire point.

Anyway, back to architecture and financial planning. Let’s continue the metaphor of your dream home (your life) and you want to build it… its a metaphor for your life, so go with me.. you aren’t going to buy an existing building, but create and build your own… because only you can build your

An architect will help convert your hopes and dreams into a design. These days due to CAD technology you can even walk through the building before its been built. The level of detail that you provide directly increases the degree of satisfaction that you will receive from your new home… details down to the where the sockets will go, the eye-line views and the comfort of the bath. The more you reveal of yourself and your plans to the architect, the better the result. In short, the work will be as good as “the brief’.

Staying with the metaphor, your own Grand Design of course requires builders to make it happen and these each have their own disciplines, electricians and so on. They are skilled at what they do, but they are not architects, though of course have invaluable hands-on experience. However, invariably they stick to what they know and don’t push the boundaries of innovation and design, unlike architects. The builders require pay and oversight. They are the labour, but of course need the raw materials – brick, stone, wood, steel, cement, copper, glass and so on..all of which vary in price dependant upon quality and economic supply and demand.

As anyone knows, building can go over budget, cost rather more than hoped or planned. The process can also take rather longer than expected for any number of reasons, most of which are outside of the control of the architect or the builder. So there is an old proverb, from Proverbs, which basically says be careful to properly cost a building project and not build something you cannot afford. This is often the message that people like Sarah Beeny and Kevin McCloud remind audiences.

Finally don’t forget that to build, you need planning approval and in general the local planning authority is there to ensure that the builders and architect are creating something that suits the local area and complies with the current best practices and laws. Whilst often seen as a hindrance, this has a place and in my metaphor would probably describe the role and importance of regulation, which all adds to the costs, but is a form of insurance for us all.

Remember that this is simply a metaphor, the dream house is your life, you get to decide how you live and what you do, the architect needs to know this, so that it suits your budget and your requirements….so that it works. Of course buildings can be inspirational… as lives can be, yours and mine…. sounds like a line from Mr McCloud himself!

Dominic Thomas