My business today has its origins in my first City job with a boutique investment management company. We worked hard, built a good business, got paid well and as stock markets continued their relentless rise through the 80’s, got some pretty good bonuses into the bargain.
However, I felt I was in a rut of my own making.
- I had little sense of real purpose
- I was afraid to leave a comfortable position
- I was financially immature; money came in and was generally went straight out at the bar and the concept of saving was alien to me.
- My integrity was under stress because my work and my true values, which I had suppressed, were not aligned.
My world changed on Friday 16th October 1987 when we were due to complete a management buy-out. The hurricane that struck London in the early hours prevented the deal being signed. The following Monday the markets crashed and London lost a quarter of its value. Our deal was off and our business was in limbo.
The following months were difficult. Business was harder and our incomes fell. I felt even more that I was in the wrong place and definitely not in control of my future.
So I took the easy and pain free route to getting out of my rut.
I stepped out of the work place, borrowed money and read for an MBA, inspired by the thought of a year in academia and by the siren voices who talked of the fabulous wealth accruing to MBAs.
I graduated into the 1990 recession and could not find work. As my financial situation deteriorated life got very tough indeed. My assets had gone, I was in debt and my income was non-existent. At this, my low point, I felt so ashamed and humiliated that I cut ties with many of my friends and family. I felt I was a failure and worthless. At the time I did not realise that this would be one of the most transformative and valuable periods of my life. I did realise, however, I was going to have to start from the ground up and get proper control of my life and money if I was going to master my future.
I re-entered financial services as a self employed insurance salesman working on commission – certainly not the dream of an MBA but a start. I met members of the fledgling financial planning movement. This was a milestone for me because it helped me deal with my own personal and financial problems as well as those of my clients who were in the same boat. I qualified as a Certified Financial Planner and later served on the Board of the Institute of Financial Planning for six years.
Still anxious to master my own future we moved as a family to North Yorkshire and I established my own financial planning company, offering a financial planning service and charging fees rather than commission, which had a huge impact on my finances and life.
I was out on a limb and it was both scary and fulfilling. I went even further out on a limb when I meet George Kinder, the US financial planner regarded as the father of life planning. He helped me realise that it was not just money that mattered, but life as well. I loved this because it pushed all my own buttons and was the counter to the financial services industry’s efforts to divorce life from money through its emphasis on products and returns. I trained with the Kinder Institute and become the UK’s first Registered Life Planner in 2006.
I remember one day waking up to realise that I had mastered both my money and my life. I knew it is possible, using a holistic planning approach to master both and that my own life story was the foundation of my business.
My clients were, like me, people in a rut or stuck and I built a unique business by combining financial planning skills with practices from the counselling and coaching professions to help them.
And again, I applied my professional development to my own life, dealing with the practical, emotional and financial aspects of my life and money and integrating my professional and personal values.
The last transition in my working life came recently. I realised that the real value I gave to clients was in the planning and coaching arena, not in the arranging of financial products which, by-the-by, was a regulatory and administrative nightmare, so I withdrew from regulated financial service to concentrate on financial and life coaching and education – and thats my story.