What the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi can teach your clients about keeping a positive outlook even if the worst happens

When war dominates the headlines, it can feel natural to have a bleak outlook, but war can also bring about unbelievable stories about human beings’ ability to triumph over even the worst circumstances.

There is a Japanese proverb “ame futte chikatamaru” which translates as “when it rains, earth hardens” or essentially “adversity builds character”.

It is a saying that rings true, especially when looking at the wartime story of the Japanese engineer, Tsutomu Yamaguchi, and his experiences in 1945 Japan. 

Read on to discover Yamaguchi’s tale and what it can teach your clients about the benefits of having a positive outlook when evaluating their financial plans.

On 6 August 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was on a business trip in Hiroshima

On 6 August 1945, Yamaguchi was visiting Hiroshima as part of a three-month business trip. At 8.15am that morning, an American bomber dropped “the Little Boy” atomic bomb just three kilometres away. 

The blast blew Yamaguchi off his feet, ruptured his eardrums, temporarily blinded him, and covered his skin in radiation burns, but he was able to keep his cool and crawl to safety. 

After spending the night getting his wounds treated in a nearby air-raid shelter, Yamaguchi decided to head back to his hometown the next day — the city of Nagasaki.

Despite his wounds, Yamaguchi reported for work at Mitsubishi just three days after the atomic blast devastated Hiroshima. 

While trying to explain to his supervisor that the city had been destroyed by a single American bomb, the Americans dropped the “Fat Man” bomb on Nagasaki.

Miraculously, Yamaguchi survived once more and would go onto live a long and happy life that included having three children, becoming an author, featuring in a documentary, and living to the ripe old age of 93 with minimal health issues.

Yamaguchi’s inspirational story shows that no matter what obstacles your clients face in life, it is possible to overcome them. Short term spells of bad luck, don’t need to affect your clients’ long-term outlook. 

If your clients are concerned about their financial wellbeing at the moment, here are three ways Yamaguchi’s unbelievable experiences can motivate them to stay positive.

3 valuable lessons to learn from Tsutomu Yamaguchi that can improve your clients’ financial wellbeing

1. Don’t assume the safest option is the right one

After the initial shock of the Hiroshima bombing, Yamaguchi naturally felt the safest thing to do was to return home to Nagasaki. However, that decision would end up putting him in the path of the “Fat Man” bomb and another atomic blast just three days later.

Seeking out “safe harbour” is a very instinctual response when we’re faced with fear or danger. It guides us to a place with the least amount of associated risk. In your clients’ case, this might mean keeping their funds in savings during the current cost of living crisis.

While interest rates are rising, inflation is still outpacing it and is likely to remain high into 2023. So, any cash your clients have saved “safely” in the bank is effectively seeing its real value eroded over time. 

For example, if your clients saved £1,000 a year ago in a savings account which pays the best current easy access interest rates of 2.9% (according to Moneyfacts as of 14 December 2022), they’d now have £1,029.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the year to December 2022 saw UK inflation of 10.7%, which means goods and services that cost £1,000 a year ago now cost £10,107 today.

In leaving their funds safely secured away in a savings account, your clients have seen its real value diminish over time and the spending power of their wealth has been eroded.

2. Stay calm and don’t panic

Despite being blown off his feet and blinded by the Hiroshima blast, Yamaguchi was able to stay calm enough to seek out shelter, locate colleagues, and get treated for his wounds.

It can be easy for your clients to panic when reading current news headlines and fall into some common investing mistakes as they worry about their financial outlook. After all, the theory of “loss aversion” posits that human beings feel the pain of loss twice as hard as the joys of gains, so your clients are hard wired to seek out immediate solutions to any potential losses.

However, it is vital that your clients don’t panic!

For example, selling shares in a falling market means a client essentially locks in a loss, removing the potential for an upturn in value as and when the market recovers.

In remaining calm and ignoring short-term volatility, your clients can stay on track to see long-term gains and unlock their desired lifestyles. 

3. Patience is rewarding — remember investing is a long-term strategy

Yamaguchi is often known as the “unluckiest (or luckiest) man in history” for surviving two atomic blasts. In the early months and years that proceeded the bombings, Yamaguchi would be covered in bandages as his skin slowly healed. 

However, over the course of his life, he was largely in good health and lived to the old age of 93, raising three children with his beloved wife, and having a largely positive outlook.

As IG reports, over any ten-year period between 1984 and 2019, the FTSE 100, the UK’s leading stock index, saw average annual returns for investors of 8.43%.

So, even if the market sees a short-term dip, if your clients have a smartly crafted, diversified portfolio, their investments will likely see positive returns over time.

Take note of another Japanese proverb “nana korobi ya oki” or “fall seven times, get up eight”. Whatever stumbles your clients experience in life, if they keep calm and keep on going, they’ll likely see the value in the long term.

Get in touch

There are very few human beings across recorded history who have experienced as much bad luck, pain, and trauma over such as short space of time as Tsutomu Yamaguchi experienced. Yet despite all that, he kept a positive outlook, and lived a long and happy life. 

If your clients are worried about short term financial issues, its best they seek out professional advice to help them stay calm and on track to meet their long term goals, by contacting us at mail@delaunaywealth.com or calling us on 0345 505 3500.

Please note

This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.

The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be considered over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.