Certainty and confidence

25 June 2017

Human beings are attracted to certainty. We prefer a sure thing than a 99% likelihood. We respond to people who are certain – people who are often wrong and never in doubt.

The challenge is, we live in an uncertain world. We can’t predict the future. People have different views and respond differently to circumstances. Feedback loops are usually complex and beyond our understanding. 

Anyone who can tell you the future is revealing more about themselves than what the future holds.

The challenge is, when you seek professional advice, it’s tempting to demand certainty. I’ll be honest – I’m guilty of this as well. I’m guilty of this because I’m human.

It’s something that I’ve had to become comfortable with over my years as a professional adviser. Not only have I had to become comfortable with uncertainty, but I’ve had to become comfortable with communicating uncertainty to other people.

In an uncertain future, can we offer certainty? No.

But we can offer confidence. We can help clients be aware of uncertainty and how we can manage it. We can make them aware that although the future is uncertain, there are things that they can do to improve their likely outcomes.

We can’t offer certainty, but we can help people to be confident in the face of an uncertain future. That’s no small thing. 


certainty, confidence, future, overconfidence, prediction, uncertainty

About the author 

Sonnie Bailey

In his spare time, Sonnie likes telling people that he’s a former Olympic power walker, a lion tamer, or that he is an orthodontist. He is none of those things. In reality, Sonnie is a financial planner based in Christchurch. Through his business, Fairhaven Wealth (www.fairhavenwealth.co.nz), he provides independent, advice-only, fixed-fee financial planning services. Sonnie is a “recovering lawyer”: he has specialised in trusts and personal client work. He has also worked as a financial services lawyer for many years.

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