A PARABLE FOR PEOPLE OUR AGE–AND THESE TIMES
Ronald W. Rogé
REMEMBER THE MOVIE, “The French Connection”? It was on TV the other day and I noticed it came out in 1971. I did some quick math and realized that was over 40 years ago. I mentioned it to my wife, Rosanne, and she said I had to be wrong. Maybe over 20 years ago, not 41.
How often do you have this type of reaction? Where did that time go? What happened to those years? It seemed like it was just yesterday. I have a theory about this. We have all heard the saying, “Life happens.” My theory is that we are too absorbed with things that really don’t matter that much and we lose focus on the important things in life. We are overwhelmed by life, too busy living in the future, chasing our dreams and questioning our past (could have, would have, should have) and don’t focus on the present, so we are surprised when we hear that “The French Connection” first appeared 41 years old.
The parable of “The Banker and the Fisherman” (which I borrowed as title of my 2009 book) is a wonderful instructional tool which I like to use for my clients—and revisit myself when life becomes overwhelming. The author is unknown; it was told to me by a client more than 15 years ago. While my business centers on financial planning and wealth management, this parable helps me refocus on what’s really meaningful to me. It lets me know that the important things in life are already available, right now. I just need to take the time to notice them.
As you’re preparing your tax returns for last year and considering your financial goals for 2013, take a few minutes to reflect on the parable below. I hope it’s as helpful to you as it has been to me.
THE BANKER AND THE FISHERMAN
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. He replied, “Only a little while.”
The American asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American banker scoffed, “I m a Harvard MBA and can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, and eventually New York, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “How long will this all take?”
“Fifteen to twenty years.”
“But what then?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, You would make millions.”
“Millions. . . . Then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Ronald W. Rogé is founder, chairman & CEO of R.W. Rogé & Company, Inc. a nationally recognized fee-only investment management and financial planning firm. Over the years he has been named to many lists of top wealth management advisers and is frequently quoted in the news media, including, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, Business Week, Money magazine and Fortune. His book, The Banker and the Fisherman: Lessons in Life, Wealth and Happiness in the 21st Century (with Roseanne Rogé and Steven M. Rogé) is available on Amazon. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.