It has been said that this is the age of creative destruction. Disruptive technologies are changing the way we live our lives in so many ways that we seem to be oblivious to it. This not only has implications for how we invest; it also has implications for how we live our lives.
Change can be good, but disruptive change can be frightening if you are the one being forced to change. For instance, the shares of Best Buy got whacked this week after the appliance and electronics retailer reported declines in store traffic, as well as earnings.
Best Buy is struggling with a business model that is becoming increasingly irrelevant. As you may recall, their present model is predicated on the proposition that a “big box” retailer has the purchasing power to crush smaller retailers who cannot compete on price or inventory. Today, they are finding that many of their “customers” are not really that. They are consumers who are “show-rooming” potential purchases and then buying online.
Other retailers are also facing the challenge of how to embrace the reality of online commerce, while still being locked into 20- to 25-year leases at malls all across the country. They are being forced to reinvent themselves on the fly. They have no choice: reinvent or die.
As advisors, we see some of our clients and prospective clients being buffeted by forces similar to those affecting the big box retailers. These people may be educated and highly trained, yet due to forces beyond their control, they find the market for their skills diminishing. Often they look to us to see what can be done with their investments to supplement their diminishing income.
Instead, we introduce them to the concept of investing in their human capital. You don’t just invest your money; you also make investments in yourself. During disruptive times, you may want to lash out at the unfairness of it all. A better approach may be to think about how you can reinvent yourself by building on your strengths and experience. The answers are out there, but you have to be willing to look for them.