Over the last couple of months, the hit BBC drama Line of Duty has become must-see appointment television.
The thrilling series finale generated record viewing figures for a drama, as the AC-12 team of Steve Arnott, Kate Fleming, and Ted Hastings finally uncovered the identity of the infamous “H”.
While six series of the show have gently tackled a range of social issues, the superb Jed Mercurio drama can also teach us some valuable lessons about financial planning. So, without spoilers, here’s what you can learn about managing your money from Line of Duty.
1. Don’t panic if you don’t understand everything at first
At the end of the first episode of this current series, the BBC continuity announcer interrupted the closing credits to let us know that a “CHIS” is a Covert Human Intelligence Source.
Following the Line of Duty plot means getting up to speed with a wide range of technical terms. Is Kate both an AFO and on the MIT? Does the DIR feed through to the CIS?
At first, it can seem complex and dizzying. But, over time, your understanding begins to improve to the point where millions of us reckon we could probably conduct an AC-12 investigation ourselves by now.
The same is true of financial planning. At first, investing can seem daunting – what’s the LTA (Lifetime Allowance) and how does it differ from the MPAA (Money Purchase Annual Allowance)? – but, over time, your understanding (and confidence) improves.
A 2020 Royal London survey found that working with a financial planner can help. The insurer found that customers who work with a financial planner feel they have a significantly better grasp of products and financial matters, compared with people who don’t have an adviser.
While we can’t help with a GSW caused by the ARU, we can help you understand your finances better.
2. Get a good team on your side
Part of the enduring appeal of Line of Duty has been the close relationship between the three AC-12 stalwarts. Indeed, one of the criticisms of the most recent series was that writer Jed Mercurio split up the gang by sending Kate out to Hillside Lane to join another team.
By working together and creating a high level of trust, the three officers became more than the sum of their parts (certainly in the eyes of the audience).
Creating a good “team” of professionals who work collaboratively – your financial planner, solicitor, and accountant – can deliver real value.
And it’s not just your financial planner that’s part of your team. While your planner might be your Ted Hastings, there’s a team of paraplanners and administrative experts – the Chloe Bishops, if you like – also helping to deliver a great outcome.
3. Remain calm in a crisis
Just as the sleepy village of Midsomer has become the murder capital of the UK in the last two decades, the unnamed Midlands city where Line of Duty is set must be one of the country’s crime hotspots.
There’s never a dull moment, from the murder of investigative journalists to armed raids on bookmakers. Indeed, an armed police convoy has now become the most dangerous journey a character can undertake.
Despite the mayhem, the unflappable AC-12 team always remain calm. It’s a great lesson for investors too. When all around are panicking – as many did in March 2020 as global stock markets fell sharply – those individuals who remained calm and stayed invested have generally seen the value of their holdings recover.
4. Make sure your paperwork is in order
In a fictional echo of the forensic linguistics investigation used to identify Ted Kaczynski as the “Unabomber”, the identity of H (or the “fourth man”) in this year’s Line of Duty partly hinged on handwriting analysis.
The misspelling of the word “definate” led the AC-12 team to their eventual arrest, partly thanks again to the tireless work of Chloe ploughing through 20-year-old police records.
Without the right paperwork, AC-12 may never have reached a satisfactory conclusion. The same is true of your finances.
While we’re not necessarily suggesting you keep every bank statement going back two decades, it is important to ensure your paperwork is always in order and updated. And having a great filing system can make things easy for your loved ones if something happens to you.
Is your will written and up to date? What about your Lasting Power of Attorney? Do your family know where you keep them? What about all the details of your pensions, investments, and life insurance?
If you don’t keep your paperwork in order, it’s quite possible a vital piece of information could be missed – jeopardising a successful outcome.
5. Focus on your long-term goals
The first episode of Line of Duty went out on BBC2 in June 2012. Essentially, it’s taken the AC-12 team almost a decade to finally uncover the OCG kingpin coordinating organised crime through a network of, as Hastings would call them, “bent coppers”.
Hastings’ laser focus on uncovering the main perpetrator has been a defining characteristic of all six series. While there may have been short-term wins along the way, a commitment to a long-term goal and sticking to his plans has ultimately paid handsome dividends.
Your financial plan is the same. You might have short-term goals along the way (helping your child through university might be your “catch Ros Huntley”), but, ultimately, it’s your commitment to your long-term goals that will bring you success.
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The value of your investment (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested.