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Thinking About Consistency


As I write this, I am in a hotel room for a short stay as I travel southward for a family wedding.  Perhaps later in the summer I will make time for a full-blown vacation, but for now this is a nice getaway.

My topic this time is one I have been ruminating about for a bit as it has two dimensions: one is how I approach my business – the reports, research and this blog – the other is about the industry I cover, as it is in an interesting period, in my view.

Consistency, ah, consistency! A lasting memory of one of my favorite college professors was that he periodically used to use the phrase “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”  That’s how I recall him saying it, anyway.

The thing is that upon research I found that the full quote, from Henry David Thoreau’s essay, “Self-Reliance” is this: “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds” (the italics are mine).

I think Thoreau’s point is that one should not be so consistent as to preclude the potential for creativity and spontaneity.

So as for myself, in all honesty I think I was more regular with my Soleares Research workflow in the early years of the business, and I would like to recapture that (this ties into an earlier blog I did on self-scouting…an activity I am trying to follow through on, as best I can). I planned to blog once a month and this year have so far kept to that. I also want to make sure I put out pieces of Featured Research that are timely and fairly regular.

So I’m looking to improve on those fronts. I will provide an update in a future post.

Now as for players in the annuity market, I am sure that, as they seek to shift the dialogue more towards income taking, they would love to hit on a form of consistency – a new normal if you will – that would bring in steady and substantial “decumulation” flows year after year.

Could that eventually happen? Possibly, but it will take time as competition for dollars will be intense and many ideas will be tried. Interest in classic annuitization is growing but it is still small in the scheme of things. I think as this all plays out, companies should be ever consistent in their business methods and messaging to consumers. That will only help the process.


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