As most of you know, and many of us witnessed, Michael Phelps made history last week when he became the most decorated Olympian in modern times. Phelps has medaled 22 times in the Olympic Games with 18 of those medals being Gold. If it wasn’t for admitted laziness in training, he would have won 19 Gold Medals.
On Tuesday, July 31, Michael Phelps was scheduled to compete in his “signature event”, the 200 meter butterfly. Phelps has been so dominant in the 200 fly over the past decade that none of the other competitors dreamed they would be contending for victory in Tuesday’s race. This was supposed to be the race where Phelps became the first man to win the same event at three consecutive games and tie with Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina as the most decorated Olympian of all time. Although he did medal in the event, Phelps had to settle for a Silver.
From the very beginning of the race, Phelps had a clear lead. In fact, the only swimmer that was even close to him was Chad le Clos of South Africa, who trailed Phelps by at least half a body length. The race came down to the last few meters when Phelps coasted into the wall. Le Clos took one last stroke and powered into the wall, beating Phelps by 5/100 of a second.
“I’m not going to make excuses,” Phelps said, volunteering that his poor finish was the result of lazy finishing habits in practice. “That came out at the moment I needed the most. I’m OK with that. That’s the choice I made.”
Our point is not to bash greatness and we are not Michael Phelps haters. We admit 22 Olympic Medals and 18 of them Gold is a huge deal. We also know with the $25,000 bonus American Olympians receive for each Gold Medal they take home, plus the millions in endorsements, Phelps is not hurting for money.
Our point is that Phelps became lazy or complacent in his training and as he stated, that directly affected his performance in competition. We’ve all heard the saying, “practice makes perfect”. However, as the late Vince Lombardi said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
We speak with individuals all the time who are “satisfied” or have become complacent with the performance of the mutual funds their financial advisor has invested their money in. Once again, we are not bashing greatness. Most of the time, over the long term, the S&P 500 will yield an average annual return of about 10% and many good mutual funds have similar performance. But, when it comes to investing for retirement, achieving that 19th Gold Medal could make it possible for you to take an extra trip to the Bahama’s each year, or allow you to give more money to your favorite charity or to your heirs.
In our firm, we do use some passive investments such as mutual funds or annuities for our clients. However, these investments are typically only a piece of a larger investment strategy. In addition to passive investments, we also have a major focus on actively managing our clients’ money as we refuse to be complacent with being an average wealth management firm. We are constantly looking for new investments and strategies that will achieve those higher returns, while lowering the risk level of the overall portfolio. If you have become complacent with an account that is just sitting in mutual funds or annuities, we’d love to sit down with you and show you how an actively managed portfolio can improve your investment experience and overall retirement planning.