News flows continue to share with us the (sometimes overwhelming) multitude of risks and opportunities in a world facing some of its toughest challenges yet.
It was ever thus. I recall distinctly my childhood in the 60’s, frequently overshadowed by the risk of an East/West nuclear holocaust should the policy of détente ever fail, resting as it did on avoiding “MAD” (mutual assured destruction).
I was nine years old and staying at my grandparents’ cottage in central Finland, the Russian border just 150 miles away, when we heard on our transistor radio that the tanks of the then Warsaw Pact countries of the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary had invaded Czechoslovakia and ousted the reformist Czech leader Alexander Dubcek, right in the heart of Europe.
Twenty five years earlier, Russia had annexed 8% of Finland’s Karelia region, my grandmother’s home, displacing 420,000 people who have never returned; 90% of my grandfather’s 2,000 acre farm was ceded to refugees.
About a year after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, a Hungarian cousin Miki and his wife had obtained a rare tourist visa to visit London. They decided never to return to Hungary instead hiding in our rear bedroom in Kingston-upon-Thames (smoking incessantly, where I tried my first and last cigarette…!) for almost a year until, with the help of my older Hungarian cousin Arto, the US granted them asylum.
Arto had fled Hungary in 1958 after crossing a minefield. He was recaptured and escaped again, making it first to Switzerland, then London, Canada and finally to the USA. Recently, just before the pandemic, when he came by for an evening en route to Norway from his hometown in Greenwich Connecticut, we incredibly fortunately suggested we record hours of his story, as 3 weeks later he was gone at age 87 from deep vein thrombosis, returning from his cruise around the Arctic fjords. You never can tell.
Both collectively and individually, as these personal stories from my family relate, humanity on the whole has prevailed over our lifetimes. Finland survived and prospered with an educational system and quality of life index that are now the envy of the world.
Whilst only the world collectively can sort out our current issues, as it has done in the past, each one of us has a part to play. I’m reminded of a story about a beach full of drying out stranded starfish with a young woman throwing one back into the sea. On being asked what difference her efforts would make with thousands of the things stranded across the hot sand, she said “well it made a difference to that one”.
Each of us has our own journey to make. Whatever your unique circumstances, our mission at HFMC Wealth is to strive to serve you as individuals, families and companies, helping you to achieve your fundamental financial planning and life goals. As we meet with each of you this year (and over many years ahead), we hope to help you with the issues of substance that really matter to you, avoiding the consequences of the unexpected and helping you realise your goals whatever they may be.
Whilst this issue of The Wire does little to solve any of the world’s big problems, it does provide insight into a few smaller ones, and we hope you enjoy the journey with us this issue and beyond.