Sarah Scott – Marketing Consultant, Royal London
Have you ever been to see horse racing live at a race course rather than on TV? Feeling the horses pound past you at the side of the track, seeing the sheer exertion of both the horse and jockey as they compete?
I’m not one of life’s gamblers. You might have read in my blog ‘Accidents will happen’ that I’m just not the kind of person who is happy to take a chance on something unless the risk is pretty low. So when my husband suggested we go to Kelso Races for a rare weekend away without the kids, where placing a bet is part of the experience, it seemed like the last place I’d want to be. Yet, I loved it!
When we arrived, I didn’t really understand anything, least of all why such a magnificent animal allows a human being to sit on its back, jumping over fences and racing for the finish line. (I still don’t really understand that bit). And then there’s the betting system. How does placing a bet at the bookies work? Odds-on, fixed odds, evens, pari-mutuel – it’s another language. And I have to admit that despite having now spent a full day at the races, I can’t really claim to know a lot. Just a bit more than I did.
Picking a winner
Being risk averse, I didn’t want to put my money on a horse with crazy odds. My head told me these horses didn’t stand a chance of winning, so I played it safe, betting on those with what I saw as narrow odds. But I quickly realised this theory didn’t hold true.
In the third race, there was a horse whose name I just loved, the jockey wore orange which, by my reckoning, was a sign I was onto a winner. But the odds were 28-1 so I decided to keep hold of my £2 for another race. A mistake that was to cost me because the horse romped home disproving my theory completely.
I think I placed £10 in bets and managed to bring home £3 in winnings over the whole day, which shows just how betting on something you feel is safe still doesn’t bring guaranteed results.
Taking a chance
I don’t think any of us really think about the chances we take on a daily basis. We leave our umbrella behind in a morning in the hope it doesn’t rain, we cross the road before the green man appears… But what about the big risks? The risk of us dying or becoming seriously ill?
You may have seen our risk summary report that shows clients the risks they face during their working lives. You put in your client’s age, smoker status and the age they hope to retire into the report and it puts produces a one-page summary showing the likelihood of these things happening to them.
For a non-risk taker like me, it makes for sobering reading. My report shows me as having a 25% chance of being unable to work for two months or more due to ill health before I retire. Heavens, I might have put money on a horse with a one-in-four chance of winning because, according to my rules, those odds are pretty good.
My point is that many of us are happy to take a gamble on things that don’t really matter too much in the grand scheme of things, yet we take huge risks with our own lives. By showing your clients the health risks they face before they retire, they might be more inclined to protect themselves against the financial impact of them.