The Garrulous Jay – Nurturing Nature

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At George Shippam Financial Planning we are proud of our sponsorship of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. As part of our wider charitable activities, supporting the Trust was a decision taken for a couple of reasons.

First, I am a firm believer in the old saying “charity begins at home”. I was therefore keen to engage with a local charity. As someone who grew up in Heydon in North Norfolk – itself one of the first conservation areas in the county – I have always felt a close bond to the county’s countryside.

It therefore seemed appropriate to establish a relationship with an organisation that works to conserve so many of the special natural places across the county, from the coast to the Broads and the fens to Thetford forest.

Helping to care for many more modest sites that might otherwise be lost or neglected also appealed. For example, Booton Common and Buxton Heath (pictured) are both less than three miles from our Head Office in Haveringland.

Similarly, the NWT supports roadside nature reserves and a churchyard conservation scheme. And if you’re looking for a new word for your next game of Scrabble, check out the Trust’s work on “pingos”.

The second reason for sponsoring a conservation charity is the belief I have in the importance of remaining connected to nature in the broadest sense. I think this has two important benefits which are applicable to all of us.

First, nature has much to teach us as we go about our daily lives, and also as we make long-term financial plans.

Charities such as the NWT have to align themselves with the places they care for by taking a long-term approach. Returns on investing in conservation projects come with time, not overnight fixes.

Equally, adaptability is central to nature and also critical to successful businesses and investment strategies. An inability to evolve one’s business strategy or one’s investment portfolio as the world changes may have dire consequences, in the same way as it would in the natural world.

Nature also teaches us the importance of ‘redundancy’; something which we risk overlooking in business and financial planning at our peril. Having ‘spare capacity’, whether it be branches on a tree, two eyes rather than one, or an emergency fund kept in cash for a rainy day are all forms of valuable redundancy.

The words diversity and diversification are clearly closely related. We recognise that biodiversity is fundamental to the health of the natural world which is why so much work is being done to protect it. In the same way diversification is a central tenet of prudent investing.

Secondly, though, I think proximity to nature is central to our overall well-being. We can all improve our financial well-being with thoughtful long-term planning, but our wider physical and mental well-being can be enhanced immeasurably simply by spending time outside in beautiful places.

Working with the NWT to look after some of these places in Norfolk therefore binds us to our business philosophy.