Future Super

Ok, so I know I spent last month’s blog harping on about obscene hoarding of wealth and wealth inequality but honestly I could spend every month doing it for the next forever months and not repeat myself.


I got a phone call a couple weeks ago, after I posted that blog. It was not related to the blog. However it was related to my super. They asked my age and location and whether I had super and informed me that some company or the government or something were offering free super advice on how to get the most out of your existing portfolio. Neat. Was it a marketing tactic? Probably, but that’s not super relevant here. The person on the phone informed me they would get an advisor to call me back with some free advice.

And they kept their promise. An advisor called me back and asked me about which super fund I was with. I’m with Future Super (and you should be too, save the planet, boycott fossil fuels yadda yadda), which they informed me was “a funny one”. Because they have a conscience? I guess that is funny amongst super funds but anyway.

The next question was do I have over $50,000 in my super (maybe it was $30,000, I don’t remember). Here’s some information about me: I do not. Either of those amounts. Super is one area that I have grossly neglected. As a business owner learning on the fly, my money has been poured back into the business and into staying alive and super has been a distant, non-existent priority. I’ve recently started contributing small amounts each week.

The response was to tell me that to qualify for this free financial advice you have to have at least the aforementioned amount in your account, have a nice day, sorry you’re poor, goodbye.

Uplifting stuff.

It occurs to me however, and this is not just sour grapes, that the people in most need of super advice, or really any financial guidance, are very likely to be those with less than $30k in their super account. At least more than someone who needs to turn a lot of money into a lot more money.

You repeatedly hear that the best way to get a billion dollars is to have a million dollars. It’s the first million that’s the tricky part though. And I’d say even more so it’s the first “financially stable and secure” part of it that’s the trickiest.

To get from struggling to not struggling is so hard. There are so many barriers. It strikes me that the people that get ahead in life have many hands to help them get there. Then once they are there, even more hands appear to help get further ahead and it snowballs until you have the insane wealth concentration and inequality highlighted in the last blog.

I have a number of plants that live at the gym. One less now as a poor soul recently died at the gym. I watered it the same as I do every other plant and it got sad and died a slow death. I did the conventional water from the top via a watering can approach and now the plant is dead. I have a fern at the gym that was also dying, being watered in the same way. I was reliably informed that ferns tend to do much better when you water from the bottom and let them soak water from the roots. So far results have been supporting that and Ferndinand is doing much better.

I’m Ferndinand. I need the super advice. I’m the roots at the bottom and I need the water. The leaves at the top don’t even need it. In fact, like this analogy where I’m a poorie at the bottom of society as a damp, dark, root and the socialites and wealthy are the glitz and glam of the leaves, we are just as connected in reality. Societies run on their lower and middle classes (this is a problematic descriptor but we can get into that another time). If the roots of society die, the leaves may linger on for a time but eventually they will wither and die also.

So why are so many of these helping hands income gated? We need to provide adequate water for the roots to help them become strong and healthy. When the roots are strong and healthy, everything above is stronger and healthier too. The same cannot be said in reverse. In fact, as I found out, when the leaves get all the water and it pools at the top, the plant dies. The roots die first, but once they do, the die is cast and the leaves may seem fine for a time but they also are going to die eventually. It’s inevitable. Unavoidable.

Except it’s not. I present to you the death of one plant and the resurgence of Ferndinand as evidence that society needs to focus more on watering the roots and building strongly from the bottom up than taking the easy road and dumping more and more water on the leaves.

I think this logic has universal application. I believe I need the super advice the most. I need any financial advice the most. We don’t need to care about a portfolio that uses shrewd advice to go from $2.5 million to $3.2 million. That’s unimportant. A person who’s super goes from having $20k or less to being able to live comfortably and make regular contributions so they might one day retire (ha ha ha) is just an indescribably better use of time and resources. I could go on forever, and maybe will one day, about the benefits to society and the globe that lifting people out of poverty has at every measurable level but I’m going to assume that’s common knowledge and we understand that greed, self interest and the accelerating concentration of wealth and power is why it continues to happen rather than a simple knowledge gap.

It applies in my field (I’m actually talking about the gym, good grief) as well. We tend to target people with wealth and disposable income to get the very best services. Those that can’t afford a one on one personal training are often those who would benefit the most but are income gated from accessing the specialist help they need to get out of a sedentary health spiral. Why? When do we as a group of humans making up a society decide that when those of us who struggle the most are given the care they need, and in fact deserve, that we all win? I’m ready.

Nutrition is the same. We have as many fad diets as there are stars in the night sky yet all of them are targeted towards people who have income to spend on prohibitively expensive food items every week. Yes, we know what the most ideal and nutritious diet looks like. Not all of us have the time, money or basic life skills to facilitate this in our own lives, let alone introducing a family (often a broken and disjointed one) into the equation. Why is good nutrition income gated? We know more and more that the gut brain is crucial to literally everything we do in life and yet we consign people (and this is a choice we continue to make) to being unable to properly nourish themselves and have even less tools for “lifting themselves up by their bootstraps”.

It sure would be easier to work hard and get ahead if you had a full belly of the most nourishing and health promoting food, a body that was kept in harmony by consistent and correctly structured exercise and the support of those around you when you need it.

Putting the shoe (boot? With straps?) on the other foot, how hard it must be to feel deflated because (whether you know it or not) your diet is depressing your ability to function optimally, your (by choice or not) inactive lifestyle means your body is tired and in pain and instead of the support of those around you, the world offers you judgement and your kids need you to give them love and food and time. How could anyone in that situation have a fair chance at keeping up with the person from the paragraph above? Not to say there aren’t exceptions but the fact they are exceptions proves it is an issue.

And thus the cycle of watering the leaves and neglecting the roots continues. More roots continue to wither and die as the leaves burst forth with colour and glow. When the roots are dead, we are all dead.

The solution is obvious at a high level. The practicalities of implementing it are complex but also a solved equation. The will to do it? That’s the hard part. The only thing standing in the way of a better life for everyone, as always, is people. Rich ones.

For the rest of us, we can look to our own lives and the circles we are in and pay a little more attention to the roots and a little less attention to the leaves.

Vive la Ferndinand.