This article, by Michelle Higgerson, was originally published in The Northern Daily Leader on 3 June 2023.
I caved into the pressure of Channel 9 programmers and have found myself watching their program ‘The Summit’. Not just watching it, but thoroughly enjoying it too. For those not in the know, the basic premise of the show is a challenge where 14 people attempt to ascend a mountain within 14 days. If they reach the summit on time, they each share in the prize winnings of $1 million, but if they don’t, they go home empty handed. Along the way not only do they have to complete tasks that are physically and mentally challenging, along with braving the harshest of elements, they must also survive the personalities and scheming of their fellow trekkers. The show is a fascinating study in group dynamics, and the pursuit for fast wealth.
As I watch the trekkers all undertake their climb up the mountain, in the snow, wet from crossing waterways, and sleeping on the bare ground, I often find myself thinking that there are easier ways to make money. Yet funnily enough, the process is not too different to how many people choose to pursue their wealth creation journey, by engaging with a financial adviser or investment professional. This person is similar to the mythical Mountain Keeper character on the show, the person who oversees the progression, knows what it takes to succeed, and provides guidance on how to achieve the end-goal. The checkpoints that the contestants reach, whereby they review their progress, and discuss any changes that need to be made to their strategy, also where they remove the weaker contestants from the group, can be thought of as review meetings with your adviser. This is where a review of your progress towards your stated goal takes place, including potentially a decision to change the line-up of investments you hold (perhaps removing those investments thought to perform weaker moving forward, and hanging onto those that are stronger). Together, these two factors should help you make you way to the summit, or your financial goal. However, the main point of difference between entertainment television and a real-life financial advice relationship is the timeline; in no scenario will you be able to make $1 million in 14 days, or even a large share of it (unless of course you start with $1 million). If your adviser is telling you this is possible, you need to run for another hill. Creating wealth takes a long time, and if you aren’t prepared to play for this amount of time, you need to reassess your goals. That is, of course, unless you’d prefer to climb 2,500 metres upwards, risking your life all while carrying a heavy backpack of essentials. In my opinion, it is more entertaining watching other people do that.