Objective: What’s The Point Without One?

I had the opportunity to study Strategic Management (SM) during my MBA course. The lecturer I had for the course was always a friendly person but I have seen him going nuts over some trivial matter. One of them is working on something without an objective. Mind you, this was a few years ago. Back then, I felt it was a small matter but now I understand why he got mad.

War Game

To complete the SM course, students must participate in an overnight offside activity known as War Game. The organizer of the game was ex-Malaysian navy personnel. He explained the game was first introduced and implemented by militaries around the world for strategic planning purposes. Corporations later adopted it as a strategy tool.

Anyway, each team had to present their strategies at the end of the game. As part of the invigilators, my lecturer was annoyed at our presentations and if I remember correctly, it was during the third presentation when he lashed out “where is your objective?”. Everyone was stunned. None of us saw it coming.

I felt he overreacted for such a small matter. It took me some time (years to be precise) to realize why he was angry, or rather disappointed. He had lectured us on the importance of having an objective on numerous occasions but sadly I guess for most of us, including myself, we did not take it seriously. To think about it now, the subject was Strategic Management. I doubt anyone can build a strategy without a clear objective.

Investment Objective

In my last post Why Do We Fail as an Investor, I mentioned having an investment strategy. To build an investment strategy, we first need an investment objective. Without one, we can easily deviate from our original goal. To relate, I have the experience to share.

Early this year, my mother walked into a bank with an intention to invest in a fixed deposit (FD). While she was there, the financial planners introduced her to a new investment opportunity that could yield a better return than FD. As expected, my mother got overwhelmed and called me to discuss it. I rushed to the bank to get more information and realized it was an insurance plus investment scheme. There was an element of extra risk and cost involved in it.

I asked my mother what her objective investing in FD was. She replied she will use the FD returns for her next year’s holiday plans. Then I asked her if the extra return proposed by the planners will make a difference to her existing holiday plan, to which she replied NO. I informed the financial planners that based on my mother’s investment objective, the current FD return is more than enough. I also explained she is old and doesn’t require extra risk at this age.


I understand there is an incentive for bankers or financial planners to upsell their products. I can respect that but it would be nice if they took the time to understand the customer’s needs before overwhelming them with new investment opportunities.


The higher return presented to my mother caught her off guard. All she needed was a reminder of her investment objective. Every now and then we should remind ourselves of our investment objectives. Without an objective, we may easily be tempted or sidetracked by many promises of higher returns without taking into consideration the extra risk and cost involved in it.

I’m very sure the next time I stumble upon a new investment opportunity, the image of my lecturer yelling “what is your objective?” will flash upon me. A useful reminder to hold on to. I’ll end this post with the following question. What’s the point of investing without an objective? Pretty much pointless, I guess.