It’s a Risky Business...
Career and life plans typically follow seven stages. As a child we are dependent, as students we develop independence, our single years see us having fun and finding a partner, couples can build a nest and then their world changes with children, and then again when the nest is empty again, before finally we can hopefully enjoy retirement.
When working we can save or invest in property or our children, and as children or retirees we rely on parents or our own savings. Whilst everyone is vaguely aware of potential disruptions to these seven life stages, they are significantly higher for resource industry professionals.
What are the extra risks for Resource industry professionals?
Searching for minerals takes people to remote and often geographically or politically dangerous places, and working with heavy engineering equipment and hazardous substances all increase health risks.
Living away from home puts a strain on relationships leading to more divorces and second marriages. There are many economic and political factors that can dramatically affect the viability of a project. Global markets, government policies and technological developments can suddenly change job prospects, the availability or finance or the demand for resources.
These enhanced risks include:
1) Finding or not finding sufficient investment for a project
2) Changes in technology affecting the demand for a mineral or for a specific skill
3) Political changes affecting a project and employment, such as restrictions on foreign workers
4) Changes in the economic cycle affecting supply and demand
5) Finding or not finding a mineral
6) Physical problems such as industrial accidents, tropical diseases, limited local medical facilities or alcoholism
7) Relationship problems caused by working in distant and difficult places, which can reduce a spouse’s earning capacity due to extra childcare or relocation to areas with sparse job prospects
8) Second marriages and the extra costs they bring
9) Retraining to change to another career or to start a new business could be costly
(BOTH ALTERNATIVES FOLLOWED BY...)
These mean that individuals need to manage risk just as carefully as the companies for whom they work, and take steps to protect their family’s financial well-being.
What steps can be taken to protect our families?
With sensible planning the impact of unforeseen events can be mitigated. Whilst we should still base our ‘core’ planning on the seven stages of life, it is wise to make some provision for the unexpected.
Insurance can cover a range of situations, and include medical insurance for the whole family as well as life and critical illness insurance for the breadwinner and spouse. Cancer, heart disease or other major illnesses could hugely disrupt any career or life plan.
Age and health are key factors in detemining the cost and scope of cover so act sooner rather than later, and get professional help from a qualified advisor on the level and types of insurance needed.
Also balance your desire to enjoy a good salary and give to your family with the need to save and prepare for retirement or leaner times. Don’t spend money on a luxury today if you might need it for a for a future necessity. As noted above, in your industry tomorrow is often unpredictable. A balanced and planned approach to saving is needed.
Resource workers are a special breed of people, and their personal risk management, and the steps they need to take to protect their families, are equally special.
Eric Jordan, has spent over 25 years living and working in Asia. If you have any questions on this article or related topics you can contact him at eric.jordan@ppi-advisory. com or at his Bangkok office on +662 664 0968.