New Year’s Eve is my wife Bridget’s birthday, and with it, we always look forward to meeting with dear friends, and, if we are at home, enjoying an incredible Cantonese dinner from our all-time favourite restaurant here in London, Kambie. This New Year’s was bittersweet however, as Dec 31, 2020, was the very last day we will ever have Kambie, because the owners have chosen to retire as was recently reported in the London Free Press. Kambie holds a special place in our home, as we first went with friends who were moving across the country right before both of our weddings in early 2000. The food was excellent and we have spent 21 years enjoying our visits and many meals. We even measured our first home’s mortgage in terms of how many dinner trips we were giving up to buy a house!
While 2020 was a brutal year for many family-run restaurants, the Chiu family (who own Kambie) had already decided to retire prior to the pandemic and had listed the restaurant and building for sale. While Isma and her family had hoped to find a buyer to continue the restaurant, the pandemic led to just the building being sold. After 31 years of running a restaurant, the family is looking forward to retirement. We’re sad to see our favourite restaurant go, but happy for the Chiu family to finally be able to enjoy a well-deserved retirement after 31 years as restaurant owners.
Always remember, things don’t usually go to plan!
If the last year has reminded us of anything, its that life rarely goes as planned and we have to be prepared to make changes on the fly. For some of us, our plans could be disrupted an inopportune event as we go to retire, as happened for the Chiu family. For others, it could mean a sudden health change part way through retirement. For others, it might even be something positive (yes, positive events DO happen and 2020 is now over, so it *is* possible!)
Proper financial and estate planning work requires us to “game out” different scenarios – and as financial planners, we usually focus on the negatives. While this doesn’t seem like a very optimistic approach, I always like to point out that if we plan for the worst, and the best happens, you will be left in a very healthy place.
As an example from the closing of Kambie, the Free Press reported that there were two assets for sale – the restaurant business and the building itself. Even though the pandemic had made the sale of the restaurant a near insurmountable task (and in fact, it did fail to sell), the building still retained its value. While the article doesn’t indicate the selling price, during this period of record real estate pricing here in London the family may have been able to get a good deal. Diversification proved to be a very wise choice indeed.
Ask yourself what could go wrong… to make sure things go right
Taking the time to think through what could go wrong is a very helpful exercise for every aspect of your financial and estate plans. One of the most remarkable stories in the aftermath of 9-11 was how important New York City’s disaster planning scenarios were to getting control of an uncontrollable situation.
Even though none of the city’s scenarios included a terrorist attack on buildings with planes, city officials were able to grab bits and pieces of other disaster scenarios that were gamed out, such as a building collapse or an overwhelmed EMS system due to a detonated bomb. While no one “planned” disaster scenario covered the situation on the ground, taken as a whole, the disaster planning exercises proved to be worth their weight in gold.
Hopefully, your life will be much less exciting than either our Kambie or New York City examples. That said, as we sit through our second lockdown, now is a great time to review your own situation. Take a look at “what if” scenarios with your professional advisors and make some contingency plans. While not necessarily a fun exercise, it is tremendously helpful to ensure your financial life—and your estate–could run smoothly and efficiently, no matter what surprises life brings.
As for Bridget and I, we are busy gaming out how to lose the weight we put on from that last order of amazing Cantonese. I’m ashamed to admit I did absolutely no planning for exercising off the weight I gained from eating at least one order of each of my favourite dishes at New Year’s. 2021 is going to involve a lot of work on my end…