As a financial planner of eight years, I have had thousands of conversations with my clients about their money. Today, as one who specialises in working with two main segments; professionals and business owners, I meet people from a wide range of industries—from tech, to law, to finance (both traditional and de-fi), to family business owners at various stages of their empire-building. This rich myriad of individuals has provided me with a profound insight into the various ways people think and manage their money.

While giving professional advice on a range of topics from insurance to wealth and investment planning, I also get to observe the fascinating interplay firsthand on how different people have different proclivities in their habits and approach on money management.

I’ve absorbed the learnings into one large mental tapestry, and have of late turned some of these thoughts inward to reflect on ideas associated with what money means to me, what it means to be wealthy, and what the Holy Grail of one’s financial and life journey should be. After all, money, in its essence, is a powerful force that intertwines with our lives, shaping our choices, dreams, and ultimately, our future. But it's the way we perceive and interact with money that truly determines its impact on our lives.

Growing up, I thought a lot about money. My family wasn’t poor, so I never had some rag-to-riches inspirational story. But we were far from wealthy as well, and we had times where I could sense that times weren’t so good. My parents are traditional so we didn’t talk too much about these things back then, but the awareness that things weren’t rosy came to light at various moments.

There was the time that for my 21st birthday, my mum showed me a set of papers over lunch. It was for an investment plan she’d made on my behalf, as a gift for my future.

Seemed like such an adulting thing to do. I signed for the papers and she helped me put them away in a cabinet at home. I didn’t think too much about it and put it away in my head as well. About a year later, though, my mum came back to me and sheepishly told me she needed to liquidate. I didn’t ask much further and said I understood.

Then there was the time that I got a spot for an exchange programme to Norway, but my family’s financial circumstances led to me pulling out. I said I understood. When I found out later on that finances were thin because my mum was the sole breadwinner supporting the family, I really did understand.

Money is the underlying currency of everything. It wasn't just the material possessions it could buy; rather, it was the potential it held to provide security and open doors to opportunities.

As I embarked on my journey as a financial planner, I realised that my personality traits, circumstances and background played a significant role in shaping my relationship with money—an awareness I bring to understanding my clients better today as well.

In hindsight, those formative years also created a sense of wanting more. It wasn’t a desperate hunger, nor greed, but I would describe it as an innate curiosity to see how people lived, behaved when there was an abundance of money, or when there was a lack. It then gave rise to a calling for me to make a difference as a financial planner. The ideas around personal finance, financial planning and money intrigued me. And I found myself resolved to work hard to never be of lack of it. Still, I always knew that money is means to an end.

So what is the end? What is the Holy Grail of financial planning and self actualisation?

If I were to define it from a financial planner’s lens—be it wealthy or not, it's the delicate equilibrium between living a fulfilling present and securing a prosperous future. It's the art of juggling dreams, goals and practicality with finesse, like a seasoned tightrope walker crossing the chasm of financial uncertainty.

To achieve this balance, we must first understand that the holy grail is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's a bespoke quest, tailored to the unique circumstances, aspirations and challenges of each individual. It requires deep introspection, an honest assessment of priorities, and a willingness to make informed decisions. That is why I love what I do—embarking on journeys with my clients to guide and grow with them.

The Holy Grail demands a solid foundation built on financial literacy. It's about understanding the language of money, deciphering the intricacies of fisical responsibility, and demystifying the enigma of compound interest. Or at least, proceeding with action to take advantage of said enigma. Without action, the path to financial success remains just that—a path. Traveling the path to the Grail sometimes warrants a good companion—like a trusted financial planner!

The Holy Grail is also not just about numbers and spreadsheets. It's about aligning our financial choices with our values and passions. It's about pursuing a career or starting a business that brings fulfillment, investing in experiences that create cherished memories, and giving back to causes that resonate with our souls. It's the recognition that true wealth extends beyond material possessions and embraces the richness of a purposeful life.

The quest for the Holy Grail necessitates perseverance and self-control. It demands that we resist the pull of rapid gratification, exercise patience in the face of market turbulence, and maintain our long-term goals. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and the only ones who can endure the difficulties and stick to their financial strategy will find the magnificent prize at the conclusion of the journey.

Throughout the journey, one can expect to encounter various trials and tribulations, testing our character and resolve. Only those of unwavering faith and concerted action will be deemed worthy to behold the Holy Grail. There is much to be learned then, in the quest itself for a fulfilling present and the security of a prosperous future.

The financial landscape is ever-changing, with new technologies, economic shifts, and unforeseen circumstances. Getting to the Holy Grail requires us to remain agile, to adapt our strategies as needed, and to seize opportunities that arise along the way. Flexibility is the key that unlocks the door to continued financial growth and resilience.

So, my fellow treasure seekers, as we’re all on our paths to hunt for this Holy Grail, the road beckons us with promises of a life well-lived, of dreams realised and of a secure future. The true value lies in the quest not just in the destination but in the journey itself. It's in the knowledge gained, the lessons learned, and the growth that accompanies our pursuit of financial mastery.

May we have the courage to stay the course, arming ourselves with knowledge, discipline, adaptability and a steadfast determination to strike that perfect balance. But don’t forget to pause and appreciate the moments along the way!