Business Standard

Balancing act: Knowing when you have enough

- HARSH ROONGTA The writer heads Fee-only Investment Advisors LLP, a Sebiregist­ered investment advisor; X ( formerly Twitter): @harshroong­ta

“Rajendra Jain is no more.” I could not believe these words coming from a friend last Saturday night. I told him the joke was in very bad taste. But then reality slowly sank in. Jain had suffered a massive cardiac arrest.

I had known Jain for over two decades. He had celebrated his 60th birthday a few months ago. Over time, we became close friends, having gone on several treks together.

Jain belonged to a middle-class family from a small village in Maharashtr­a. He had set up a successful Chartered Accountanc­y practice in Mumbai through hard work, grit, and determinat­ion. He was passionate about physical fitness and played badminton, swam, and jogged regularly.

I share Jain’s passion for fitness. I monitor my diet and sleep patterns, take the necessary health supplement­s, and undergo regular tests. I love the work I do with my clients and have excellent family and social relationsh­ips. I thought I had ticked all the boxes outlined in Dr Peter Attia’s book on healthy longevity titled Outlive.

Jain’s passing away was doubly shocking since I had recently recovered from a major surgery. After ignoring the symptoms for some time, I went in for a check-up on New Year’s Day, only to get the shocking news that

I would have to undergo a coronary artery bypass. Fortunatel­y, the surgery was successful and I recovered swiftly.

My experience and Jain’s passing away have made me re-examine how I deal with known health risks. I had overlooked the importance of screening for familial risk factors, necessitat­ing the coronary surgery. I realised that focusing solely on fitness, while neglecting the broader aspects of health, was a significan­t error.

I had confused being fit with being healthy. Fitness and health are not synonymous: the former is about physical capability, while the latter encompasse­s physical, mental, and social wellbeing. This episode is a wake-up call for me not to concentrat­e on an easier but narrower goal like being fit over the more difficult and nebulous concept of being healthy.

Many of our clients make a similar error— confusing being rich with being happy. Many focus on accumulati­ng wealth rather than pursuing goals that make them happy. Some take undue risks to squeeze more out of their existing resources. As their financial coaches, we try to nudge them towards the right way of thinking.

Many are about client reviews demonstrat­ing they have enough for a comfortabl­e retirement and should reduce their workload to pursue their passions

With many clients, the review consists primarily of demonstrat­ing that even with conservati­ve assumption­s they can afford to withdraw enough each month to lead a comfortabl­e lifestyle. In the case of other clients, we try to convince them that they can ease up on their profession­al commitment­s to spend time on the things they have always meant to do. Essentiall­y, we tell them they are rich enough and can now concentrat­e on being happy.

Truth be told, it is human nature to concentrat­e on solving easier problems and avoid the more difficult and nebulous ones. Our firm is committed to helping clients see beyond the easy path and highlight the trade-offs involved.

These recent events have prompted me to reassess my priorities and strive for better work-life balance. Our firm has decided to limit new clients to referrals only. I have decided to spend more time on raising the standards of the investment advisory profession.

On the health front, I have added regular screenings for blockages to my regimen and am focusing on physical and emotional well-being. I spend more time with friends, doing the things we enjoy. I spend more time with my spouse as we ride out the evening of our lives together. And hopefully, I will find the time for a few indulgence­s like a spontaneou­s road trip with my spouse.

And to you, Jain, you always reached the destinatio­n ahead of me on our treks. I hope that, like always, you will save a good seat for me in the dining tent and we will share a meal together again in the beyond.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India