What the Self Employed and Small Business Owners Need To Know About…
Small business. Money, Investing and Your Head game and How to get these things right so you can be more and do more – on your terms.
Marketing, Sales, Personal Finances and Sex on a First Date – why it never really makes sense to even ask.
This is the first real guide for those that would like to be free, free to run your business and free to really plan your own finances. It’s a guide book that covers the three areas you’ll need to master if you are intending to be completely free. I’ll be honest, it’s the book I needed when I was twenty. Importantly it’s all of the information I want my kids to know.
When I say master, I really mean it – get these three things half right and your life will change for the better. Most of our world is so poorly managed and understood that even if you only get to be half right, you will still be head and shoulders above the rest.
There are several facts in nature that we humans should understand; one of these relates to tadpoles, baby frogs.
They have a number of interesting features that is part of their DNA – it’s in their genes.
You’d expect that a tadpole would be able to detect the quality of the water it lives in and to notice if any of it’s tadpole family are being eaten by predators. Indeed they do have these abilities. Tadpoles give out a number of hormone signals on the point of death in order to warn others to that effect. They get better than that even.
Dependent on water quality and local temperature they can alter their rates of growth, and grow legs on demand – all dependent on external matters.
We should be amazed that any creature has developed like this, but of course we wouldn’t have frogs if it didn’t happen.
We humans have the ability to think, to consider, it should give us an edge over many natural things. However, when you look around you’ll notice that a lot of humans do stupid things and make silly mistakes. What I want to encourage you to do is consider the incredible luck you’ve already had, to think about what you already know, how beautiful our human mind and body is – and then like the tadpole start to adapt, to learn and to do things based on reality and fact.
That’s the takeaway from this book. You can do it, you are much better than a frog and frogs are fucking brilliant – which makes you, friggin’ awesome. You are a complex and a very lucky collection of atoms – that will go on to do great things – if only you’d accept that change is coming whether you like it or not.
AND you don’t have to accept your present situation as the end. It’s never the end until you die or give up.
I have this belief and have made it my mission to give everyone that I meet the opportunity to learn some of this stuff. I believe that we all have an obligation to right the wrongs – to solve the problems of consumerism and poor Government. The problem is we are so busy working for the man – we don’t have the time.
Bigger problem – this planet of ours is being slowly fucked by large corporations and by people not being responsible. If you only take on board half the contents of this book, you’ll be ahead of the game. You’ll know how to get your money working hard, how to structure your micro business to run itself – you’ll then have time freedom to teach others how this works and then collectively, you and I can change the fucking world with our new found freedom – to make it a better place and to secure a future.
Please accept this rough guide for the self employed and small business as a little book with big intentions – a guide for living a great life on your terms – with an eye on the future.
Don’t listen to those that will tell you, work hard, buy a house, pay into a pension, retire, die.
You and I are alive at a time where anything is possible – it’s now really easy to get our message out, to ship products and services all over the world, from your fucking phone – that’s never happened before. Stop listening to those that think it still 1974, it’s not.
Warning : the following content contains more swear words. Parental guidance and all that.
You just need to become more NINJA.
Oxford Dictionaries describes the meaning of Ninja as “A person who excels in a particular skill or activity, fucked up the arse is a painful and unattractive exercise in control, normally carried out on a passive partner.”
Of course this complicated world of social media and 24/7 online access to all the information in the world; reviews, howto guides and access to experts seem to indicate that the world, her husband and his dog know more than you about everything but that’s clearly not the case is it.
Fact is information does not confer the ability to do or to understand. But it should give you an edge in what you do – you just need to be be more Ninja. More expert in your ability to:-
Get your point across
Provide a brilliant service
Make the most of your personal and business finances
Understand how money really works, how to leverage it.
Do one or more of these and things will start to change for you, and change quickly. You’re lucky, these are the reasons I wrote this book and finally pulled together a fuckton of information. None of this is particularly complicated and at least it’s now in one place.
I’ve purposely split this book into three distinct parts. Small business, owning your labour is important. Sorting your your finances, getting out of debt and then the inner game – as I call it – your head game.
Getting your small business working as it should will mean financial freedom coming to you sooner rather than later. Further, if you can get your money working for you simultaneously you’ll end up financially independent in half the time. Both of these things need a change in your internal dialogue – your head game.
It’s funny. Business has changed a lot in recent years, well the tactics have, but the principles and people are timeless. People haven’t changed much in fifty thousand years, which should make business quite simple.
Do or make something people want at a price that suits them, make an offer and exchange value. That’s business.
Owning your own small business is more important than ever – it means freedom, paying less tax and it means working on your terms. There is the also the point of you being able to live your life before you die and well before you retire. Under current rules, you can’t draw on your pension until at least seventy percent dead – you’ll need to have lived for close to three quarters of your life before you can get it – under present rules.
Personal finances are also a lot less complicated than we are told by the industry. They must be pretty straightforward, because there are lots of people who are wealthy – but not hyper intelligent.
Much of the information we have now is due to the sheer power of the internet. Information once only available to a few is now available to all of us – there should be no excuses.
There are just a handful of basic principles, fundamentals that turn ordinary people into financially independent and stand alone individuals. Fact is, if all you needed to do in order to become wealthy was sit in front of a local high street financial adviser for thirty minutes every year – we’d all be lining up in the high street to meet one.
Reality is, that’s just bobbins!
Further, many advisers and most high street financial firms have been fined by the various regulators and the advice industry has collapsed by 90% or so in the last thirty years – consumers have worked out that they don’t add much value.
I have included and updated some of the content from my own websites (17 years worth) and included the new stuff. Most if this is information many would prefer you didn’t have. It’s the unfettered truth about business, money and your head game.
No rights reserved. Any part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever without express written permission from the author. Please refer all pertinent questions to me.
Richard Smith 2018
Welcome to my church.
The Church of the Irreverent.
Order of Service.
Welcome to my church.
No One Is Coming To Save You
Finding A Rhinoceros
Leads The Beating Heart Of Your Business.
Small Biz Lead Generation – Raising Your Profile.
Google Adwords – Remarketing – Not Asking For Sex Now
Knowing Your Business Numbers
Time Freedom – time is the only thing you cannot get more of.
Tick- Tock – Tick – Tock
Small Business, Artificial Intelligence
Small Business Lead Generation – Old Stuff Still Works.
Resistance Is Futile
Growing Your Business By 20% in a Few Months
My Obsession With Honda Moped Engines And Your Business.
Only Three Ways
Sales and Selling Has Changed
Business Lesson From Nursery Rhymes –
There’s a Hole In My Bucket…
Direct Market v Branding v PR
Email Marketing – It’s All About The Relationships
Do This In Your Business and Get Results.
Who’d Want a Job
Where are we now – Salespeople are a problem
Sacrificing Your First Born
On Social Media
I don’t often read the papers.
THE MONEY STUFF
Things The Financial Industry Won’t Tell You And What To Do About It.
Financial Advisers, Banks and Wealth Managers
Creating Wealth For You.
Averages Are Important – Go Have An Average Day
The Benefit Of Being A Gazillionaire or Maybe Just Financially Independent
Things Are Changing Fast
The Wealthy Do This
So How Do We Make Money Work Hard?
DEAL WITH DEBT
Repay/Overpay – Do This It’ll Change Ya Life.
True Cost Of Credit – Alison Average.
The Problem With Pensions
Investment Products and Charges
Investing In ‘Tracker’ Funds and Why Tracker Type Funds?
Facts About Time
You Renting- Get Your Own Back – Pay Less Tax
Alison Average – Just an Ordinary British Girl
Since April 2015.
Unable To Handle Money By Design
Free On Friday
Death Benefit Taxation from .gov.uk
Government Brochure – Pension Changes
Thank you for purchasing. In return I’d like to offer you something of even further value.
A session with me. Thirty minutes of practical optimism (realism) where I can provide you with specific professional advice about starting, running and managing your business and your personal or business financial planning.
Even if your glass is half empty — I can refill it. If you are in a mess with stuff or just want to get unstuck. Get in touch, I can kick your sorry arse back to where it should be or gently move you in the right direction, happy to do either.
I guarantee you it’ll be worth several hundreds of pounds immediately, and if you take my guidance and helpful advice on board and use it – I know that it will end up being worth many tens of thousands of pounds to you over your lifetime.
Good news is, you can then pass the wisdom on to your kids and grandkids. Meaning it’s value will be many hundreds of times it’s cost – which is the price of this book.
I like the sound of my own voice, having spent over twenty five years running a successful financial advisory practice working mainly in the area of divorce and financial mediation. I’ve done a lot of talking and have a lot to say. I’m often wrong about things.
I can’t ever seem to find the winning horse, or identify which one of the kids has taken the last tenner from my wallet – I tend to be pretty poor at emotions; you know the kind of stuff.
But, for business stuff and financial matters I’m rarely wrong.
Importantly I understand that as a business owner I can’t please all of the people all of the time – so I don’t try. This is a lesson that many of the startups I work with – ignore right up until the point we work together.
If you even try to please most of the people you’ll fail dismally. The more niche your approach, the more highly targeted your message – the more money you’ll make. It’s that simple.
I have mentored and trained financial advisers and worked on sales and business development for advisers, app developers, I.T businesses, and a woo woo hypnotherapist amongst others. I use the same principles for each, sure the tactics change but never the principles.
Originally from North London, Winchmore Hill. Where I lived until my early twenties. My grandad was an old school rag and bone man, and my father was a baker. I understand this whole hustle and process thing. It’s built into my genes.
Look, baking bread is process – you need the ingredients in the right order for the right amount of time and correct heat etc. If you get it wrong you don’t get bread. Business is the same.
That’s probably all you need to know about me for the time being. I do have higher level financial services qualifications therefore I am qualified to talk about the things I post and write about.
I also have an overwhelming feeling of joy to finally put all of these words in one place. These chapters are the sweary wisdom found in my work and with the benefit of considerable hindsight.
If you are looking for unicorn dust and a nice soft approach to business, life and and money. You really do have the wrong book.
There is a reason fat men are fat, it’s not hormones or some awkward illness it’s because they eat to much and don’t exercise enough. More truths follow.
Two illnesses made me realise that most financial planning was a “crock of shit.” Importantly as the internet now provides us with access to all of the information required, all you now need is some knowledge in order to make the most of that information – this book is the start of that.
Most small businesses do not survive in case of serious illness, disability or a serious cashflow fact! Basically, if your income stops when you stop working then your investment planning, business and everything else falls apart.
Sadly most financial professionals ignore that point.
Sure they’ll sell you a possible solution, reality is the structure of your personal finances and your business should be such that it continues to work for you even if you’re not able. This is why you have to plan and work your business and your finances based around a number of principles – focus on perennial products and services that stay in demand for a long time.
You also need to make longer term decisions about your investments. Everyone is looking for the fast buck, the instant result. It doesn’t exist.
Knowing these things is great way to structure a business and to build a life. I suggest you ignore what the ‘financial services’ professionals recommend you do, most of them are still working on 1976 tactics and the world is very different now.
If you can build an automated income around products, systems, investments and tools – you then make your money work hard – you won’t need that much advice I assure you. FFS, we now have the internet – something that our grandparents could never have dreamed of.
The very rich don’t lean on or listen to conventional advisers – making money work for you is a clear process and not about advice. Becoming financially independent is about knowing the processes and making them work for you.
Adviser solutions include the dreaded pensions, half dead and death insurance(s) and and income protection type plans. Many of which offer little in the way of solving the problem. That of outliving your money or making your money work so hard for you – you don’t have to.
Your money needs to be leveraged if it’s to do what you need it to do.
Most adviser solutions provide an amount of cash for when the event happens, which is not the same as planning for the event that you know is going to happen. You are dying and things will break, you just don’t know when.
Eight years on from my own illnesses I now run a small(er) consultancy, telling the truth about making your business work hard for you, investing, money, internet marketing, sales, offline marketing and life.
But it’s more than that. I believe we have an obligation to become wealthy, or at least financially independent. So we can take on the injustice and crap that capitalism has left us with. Capitalism as we have it now is all consuming and operates without any responsibility. Sure, there is some lip service – but most corporates don’t give a fuck about you, the environment or anything else. The sole reason any business exists is to make a profit – it serves no other purpose. Once you accept that, you can really consider what is going on.
My work has been featured by Brighton University, Financial Adviser magazine and Barnet University amongst others. I’m only telling you this because all of the above surprised me, guess they think I’m good at what I do even if my own mind won’t accept it fully. My irreverent and sweary approach annoys some, but all of what I say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Dog.
Let me tell you how to avoid the almighty small business and personal finance fuck ups and I show you how to move slowly toward some kind of financial freedom.
Janice Joplin sang “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I don’t quite agree, but it is an interesting line. Having nothing to lose is an interesting position to be in. Of course it means you have everything to gain. Staying on the same pithy lines. JK Rowling said:
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Mull over those for a few minutes. They may change your life. Money is a problem. Not having it, is a problem. Having a large amount of it takes time and effort to manage – it’s a problem.
Not having it is a constant time struggle to get it.
That is why systems and processes are important.
You wouldn’t dream of travelling to Spain without a simple plan, or arranging a Stag Night.
A plan is one of the most important things you can have, little happens without one. You’d be surprised at the number of people who drift through life without even a simple plan.
Like a lot of people, I once believed that the professionals I met in a working environment and whom I asked to do work for me were honest and able; accountants, web designers, Adwords guys, solicitors, financial specialist, mentors, people selling bright new ideas…
…All of these specialists I naively accepted into my working life only to find many were plainly crooks, scallywags and charlatans and most were not up to scratch.
So I’ve been on a mission to tell the truth about some of these subjects and more, sure I’ve spent hours of time understanding them but you know what – very little of it is complicated. Once you start to dig beneath the veneer, many of these seemingly ‘hard’ things are much easier than we think.
It’s why accountants and financial advisers work in contracting industries. It’s why the income of solicitors is decreasing and why many professions are struggling to survive. The information that was once made privy to just a few educated professionals is now available via a search on a smartphone.
I couldn’t make a tree or create a living rabbit and no I can’t take a cat apart and put it back together again. None of what we do as investors, businesses owners or parents is as complicated as making a rabbit or putting a cat’s internals together in the right order. We can grow a tree, just can’t make one.
This is great news for us all, if it’s not overly complicated it means we can learn how to do it and get the results we need.
One lesson I’ll give you now which should ‘strike a note’ is this.
It’s not the cleverest, most erudite, or the hardest working that become rich, successful and adored by millions.
Sure talent is talent, and those at the top of the pile have a certain inborn thing going on. But most wealthy and happy people just soak up what’s around them, learn what’s required, learn from their mistakes and just get on with it.
Provided you fuck up a bit, find out what doesn’t work, piss off a few people along the way – eventually you’ll arrive at that fabled place, your very own Eden. Where you command what, where, why and enjoy the riches.
Some important things about finding Eden are worth sharing now.
It takes longer than you think
You may not arrive – so enjoy the journey
De-clutter your life of negs and naysayers now
Time is the only thing you cannot buy more of
Pink Floyd wrote.
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
Hold on to that for a minute.
Time spent with your gorgeous partner in your favourite restaurant, eating your favourite food and thinking about the sex you’re going have afterwards. Goes as quickly as the time spent trying to make a payroll deadline when the overdraft is close to being maxed out.
Time spent with your hands in a fire seems to drag on forever. As Einstein said (ok maybe not with these words) “time is relative to where you are and what you are doing.”
Time spent avoiding getting ‘bitten on the bum’, doing income tax returns, finding new clients, making sure you are profitable, knowing your numbers, looking after good staff members, testing your marketing, working out how to increase prices. Investing for income.
Is all time well spent.
Time spent watching trash TV, nosing around the internet, getting emotionally involved with things that you didn’t care about last year. It’s all a waste of valuable, can’t get no more of it – time.
You can always get more money, you can never get more time.
Urgent or important.
Not all events, people or businesses processes are equal.
It’s not possible to earn a ‘mill’ a year doin’ £8.50 an hour work – not enough hours. Choose wisely where to spend your time. Avoid letting things become urgent, in particular where the problem is not yours.
Four words that I like to start my presentations with – you are gonna die (thanks to Gary V for that). What you do between now and then is important. Tick tock.
You might think you need to know how to fly a plane in order to run an airline, you don’t (ask Branson). But having knowledge of how a plane works and the mechanics of an airline and an airline business is important if you are to be a success. Sure, you’ll need some well rounded and knowledgeable people to help you along the way but you don’t need to be an expert in what you do.
When you are ready to start learning a different approach fire off an email to:- firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ll be welcomed into my inner sanctum or as my wife calls it “my lair” – sounds creepy, but it’s not.
In a nutshell.
Don’t listen to everyone you meet, some of them are plain stupid. Look for what’s obvious, often this is not what everyone else is doing.
Ignore what you been told about business, investing or becoming financially independent; it’s not complicated or particularly hard.
Looking at what everyone else is doing and then doing the opposite is a good start.
Look at the wealthy people you know, what do they do? Do the same as them.
Do nothing get nothing, don’t ask don’t get. You want something to change, to react – go poke it. See what happens.
You and I both are entitled to nothing, not now not ever. The market only rewards us for the value we add – don’t add value and you don’t get anything.
If you are not asking for sales, asking for the order, asking for a favour you’ll never get an answer. Which means your answer is always no.
Action, action, action.
Writing Things Down
If it’s not written down it either won’t happen, didn’t happen or shouldn’t have happened. The most successful of my clients (and the world in general) write a lot of things down. Use a Journal.
Brainfarts – those little thoughts that appear can be exciting, but are often forgotten in the same time it takes for a fart smell to leave the room.
Sometimes they are insightful and other times of no use. But write them down, it creates space in your head for other thoughts, if your life is full of stuff then nothing new can come into it. If your head is full of stuff your brain can’t think up new stuff.
Your mind is the same as the rest of your life – write your thoughts down. Give yourself some space. You’ll be having a few as you read, write them down. They may be handy for later.
Observe a lot, observe your own mind, observe people or the marketplace. The things you see – some of these are important.
I’m not sure where this short story first came from. I was told it or read it a long while ago. If you know who first told it please get in touch and I’ll credit it.
There was an old man caught in a flood, he ends up drowning, gets to heaven and he asks St Peter why God had let him die?
St Peter looks a little confused and the man states again “I was praying for God to save me and he didn’t – why didn’t he come, why didn’t he answer my prayer and save me from certain death?”
St Peter looked at the man and said “let me check the records and I’ll get back to you.” He disappears for five minutes and comes back with a small piece of paper in hand.
Having checked the logs I’m sorry to say your recollection of the events leading up to your death are confused, at 8am this morning we sent a Police Car, at 11.41am an Ambulance , at 3pm we sent Father Patrick and at 5pm a Helicopter, all you’d tell them was that you were waiting for God to come and save you – we were all trying very hard, but you didn’t see the signs.”
Often that voice in our head is a sign, a warning, a message; perhaps even a little nag that something needs changing. Do you hear it, can you see the signs in front of you? They are nearly always there just often misinterpreted or worse still not seen.
Make sure you write them down, just in case they are a sign. The second time you hear it or see it – maybe just maybe it’ll make more sense.
Note: I’m not talking about the negative voice in your head, the one that tells you that “you’re stupid and this’ll never work.” Not that one – I call that the Idiot, it’s not real or you. Get a journal, use it.
One little exercise I ask members of my mentoring group (the Ninjas) to do is to create a ‘sit rep’ like they do in the Army.
Note down, what’s happening, what’s on your mind, what problems you have. Put them in your journal, leave them for twenty four hours. Tell your mind that’s what you are going to do, and then go do something else. Like really do something else; gym, swim, fast walk. Leave the site of your admision.
This easy mind trick works by shutting up the voice in your head – you’ve told it what you plan to do and written it down. The ’Idiot’ shuts up. Look at the ‘sit rep’ in the morning. What problems have been solved without input, some just disappear.
What new ideas have you come up with to solve the problem(s)? Amazing eh!
No One Is Coming To Save You
No matter what you think about politics, local or national. No matter what you think about things changing in your favour real soon, no matter how much you hope or pray. No one is coming down the high street on a White Charger to scoop you up, to save your arse.
Hoping that one day a simple tool, a one click button or a groundbreaking process; or a forward thinking politician will arrive with a change that improves your business, your finances and your emotional life beyond recognition – in a good way – is a false hope.
Sure a hope that things will change, things will get better is something that is built into our DNA. Hope springs eternal. Good luck with it.
Nothing changes on it’s own, little gets better without outside help or without some force being put on it – poked.
You need to take your own hope, scoop it up and put it in your own little bag, place it in your pocket. Keep it there as a reminder that hope is a good thing but it changes nothing.
Go take some action to move things forward. Hope delivers when you combine it with action. Use hope as a rabbit’s foot or a lucky coin, keep it with you. Just don’t rely on it as viable method of solving anything.
Meanwhile, no one cares about you, so you might as well go on and be the one thing you want to be, to make the change you deserve. Just remember no one is waiting to hand it to you. There is no invite to the feast at the top which has been going on for years. Your seat at the table is waiting for you. But you have to earn your place.
Like the Romans fighting the Celts, those little Celtish fuckers had a habit of turning up when least expected, and knifing the highly trained Romans in the arse, in the woods, in the dark whilst it was raining.
The Celts also made pretty good roads.
Surprise yourself and be more Celt. But don’t wait for a White Knight on her charger – – she ain’t coming, not now not ever.
Finding A Rhinoceros
And yeah, it has a lot to do with modern small business and therefore life.
The summer in the UK will soon be coming to an end, and of course in the southern hemisphere spring is starting, a few years back I‘d spend at least a week game hunting in South Africa. For those who have not been there; the Big Game is well worth going to see at least once in a lifetime.
My story here is about preparation and of course hunting, it is a skill that is easy to learn provided of course you get the basics right. I wanted to see a White Rhino some years ago and ended up settling for the Black Rhino and the Southern White.
So here are the steps you need to take to find one of these elusive and rare creatures.
Edit 2018 – there are no White Rhino left. Estimated to be only three white and two thousand odd black, with around 16,000 Southern White Rhino. If you are looking for Northern White Rhino all you need is a Zoo as all the survivors are in captivity, the last male has died recently, and at least they managed to freeze some of it’s sperm. Let’s be grateful for small things eh.
Get yourself to Africa, after identifying it is indeed a Southern White Rhino/Black Rhino you want to spot.
So I trust it will be the Southern White Rhino for you, as it was for me.
Establishing the target now makes life a little simpler, all we now need to do is establish a couple of further points to make our lives a little easier. Some pointers for you (things we need to know).
Habitat – where it lives, where it hangs out, what time it feeds and breeds. White Rhino are grazers therefore living in the African Grasslands (Savannah) if you are not there, the chances are a bit slim.
Feeding and Drinking what it eats, and where it drinks – there is a good chance it will hang out in these places at least once per day..
Play Areas – where it meets its mate (the opposite sex) as it will often turn up there a specific times, there is a breeding season for most of us.
Once you have identified all of these things you can start your hunt, preparation is one key, you will need; basic camping and survival supplies such as sunscreen, bug spray, mosquito netting, a flashlight and first aid supplies, you get my drift.
Not forgetting of course some hired help, some maps and of course a decent vehicle (not forgetting fuel).
You will also need to make sure you have enough cash to cover travel expenses and associated costs, and make sure you have all of the right Passports and Visa’s etc etc.
Once you have all of this place you are in a position to hunt Rhino and I wish you good luck. You can of course wonder about the relevance of this story and wonder how it fits with the modern business world.
It’s simple, replace Rhino in the above text and replace it with “Ideal Client” and you have the start of your Marketing Plan, in order to build your business you need to identify what it is you want for your business and to make sure you target only your ideal client.
I have spoken to many business owners who tell me that everyone is their target market? To that my response is always – really?
Does that included, time wasters, poor people, pains in the arse, needy, miserable moaners, misers. Do you really want to work with this kind of customer. Of course your target client is not everyone.
Fact: The more focused your business the more success you will have. Look around you the supporting evidence for that is everywhere. If IKEA starting selling fine French wines would you consider them the go to firm, how about getting Legal Advice from the Plasterer in the pub?
If you knew your Oncologist was also a part time Radiologist or heart specialist would you still trust them as much? There is a reason specialists earn more than generalists.
The solution for today in this frenetic multi media world where you are bombarded with bad news and advertising is to have some focus, hang out where your target is and present to them in way that fits their lifestyles, needs and objectives. Importantly by using the various modern methods you can “get them to know you and like you” using automation.
Once you have them in your sights, you might have several chances to ‘get them’, and sometimes you might have turn up at the water hole at regular intervals in order to get your photograph.
What I can confirm to you is this, targeted preparation is key and of course a prerequisite in this modern business world.
Leads The Beating Heart Of Your Business.
Of all things I speak with business owners about, this is always the fly in the ointment, the elephant in the room. It’s the one thing that everyone thinks should be a priority and rarely is.
You know that without new leads coming into your business it’s dead in the water.
Of course existing customers can be sold to again and again, and most firms are woefully bad at that. But it’s the new business that is going to really grow your ickle biz into a massive future business. If you ain’t growing new customers you ain’t ever going to have a future. Not as a big business or a small one.
New leads are the lifeblood of any business and :-
Existing customers are the rock solid foundations.
How do you go about solving the ‘must get new leads’ conundrum? Back in the dark ages you’d run some local advertising, newspaper or magazines and if you were a medium sized firm maybe some radio ads.
Of course you could have thrown in a mix of PR and some direct mail – sounds so quaint now doesn’t it; can you imagine writing letters to potential customers.
And then the Big G arrived on the scene and shortly after the oxytocin boosting social media platforms with the images of puppies and kittens. Running ads on either of these was guaranteed to bring home the bacon.
That’s until customers developed the staying power of fish. Investment return on spend with social was brilliant when it first appeared but is now going the same way as Google pay per click – with around 20% of advertisers making it pay and 80% of them losing money on the deal. Importantly, when considering your own social media usage, when was the last time you actually purchased something via a social platform – remember that when you start to promote your products and services.
One downside was the cost of developing a working website, and none of the designers you met could even begin to help you solve the £500 per month cost of clicks and the lack of conversions.
As things have become more and more competitive the cost of the same clicks has doubled and the social ads are not far behind, to top it all the Big G changes its mind every ten minutes with another update – are you on page 1 or 7 in search results?
Depends what day it is I guess.
Email, which is still the killer application (you can’t even have an electricity account without one) – few small business use this to their advantage.
SMS – “couldn’t possibly use that, what an intrusion!” Well it’s not if you are under a certain age.
It’s all a bloody conundrum. All you want to do is run the business, get on with what it is you do. Problem is those days are over, being an Accountant, Estate Agent, Widget maker or whatever is no longer enough. It’s all so… competitive.
So we’ll blame immigration, Trump, Europe, Google, the Inland Revenue.
In fact it seems there are million and one excuses from all quarters, no one wants to admit that actually they don’t have a system for attracting new customers, no systems for follow up or automated solutions to do that for you.
Instead most small businesses seem to have systems and online content that’s not fit for purpose and staff that don’t quite get it on the customer service angle, and then offer no real differentiation or dare to cross sell products and other bolt on products or services.
I have bought and sold three houses (serial mover me) all from separate independent Estate Agents not one of them has a) thanked me for the business b) followed up c) tried to cross sell something. Got all the usual bull shit about ‘speaking with their mortgage advisers’ yeah sorry mate, no legal requirement to do that.
In all fairness, their professional manners aside I would have been happy to buy from or via every one of them again. Only not one of them asked.
Of course when I’ve asked the the question – why no follow up I been given every excuse…
…from data protection rules to staff issues, frankly it’s just B.S.
I even drove from Sussex to Kent to avoid using one local car dealer, and even they haven’t followed up – despite me telling sales guy why I drove a 100 mile round trip.
You never ever deserve to get repeat business and you never ever deserve to get an enquiry. Your new customers need to be wooed and attracted, like finding that first soul mate and then, your existing customers need to be nurtured, sweet talked and managed.
Get good at that. Actually you only need to better than your mate in the pub in order to get the hottie in the local bar. Your competition is always weaker than you think.
I can assure you of this. Every business could be better off by many tens of thousands of pounds, probably more. Just by having in place a re-marketing plan, even a simple diary would help. They could also benefit from some system changes, automation and the creation of lead generating processes.
Provided you get at least half of these right you’ll soon start to increase turnover/profit and have more time on the golf course.
Small Biz Lead Generation – Raising Your Profile.
Big up myself. The lady I use to do some website work and coding has been in touch this week to let me know that chunks of my content has been used for research and sessions as part of a Brighton Uni – business course.
Can tell you this, that pleased me. I have in the past lectured at Barnet Uni on digital business and business planning as part of their Business Degree course. Can you imagine, sweary ol’ me, in front of a bunch of students. They loved the irreverence of it.
Business Lesson in that. Create valuable content, put your content out there, promote it. You’ll either be put on a pedestal by someone else or not, none of us know. But by doing nothing, standing for nothing, not having an opinion means you won’t ever be asked to lecture to a group on your specialist subject.
Just look how that happens now, the next time you turn on Radio 4, Newsnight or open the Telegraph. You’ll read, watch or hear content from ‘experts’. Who are these people?
They are the ones that have dared put their opinion out into the ether and are Googleable. Most know little, and some nothing, honestly. Their specialist knowledge can often written on the back of a postcard but they dared to publish and opinion and made sure that opinion was known.
Go publish your opinion, your knowledge. Put yourself on the Golden Pedestal of Knowledge on your specialist subject – dare ya.
As further evidence of how that works I have had a good number of articles in some very erudite and paid for publications. Each publication approached me, based on stuff I’d written or put out on social media. Some of it was designed to antagonise but much was created specifically to raise my profile, to tell the truth and my position on it.
Google Adwords – Remarketing.
Or not asking for sex now – waiting until the second or third date.
Not so long ago the only options you had for marketing your business were the Yellow Pages, local and national press, radio and TV and direct mail which bit out of vogue now, which means you should be doing a lot more of it..
Since the dawn of the internet plenty of firms have tried to create platforms that worked and before Google there were a number offering what was called ‘banner ads’ that were held at the top or side of the internet browser screen.
They were simple to install and use, and customers weren’t blind to them. My first e-commerce operation in 2001 (Two Big Shoes – oversize mens shoes from Italy) was supported with Banner Ads and we did very nicely from it.
Once the 400lb Gorilla of them all – Google rolled out their platform things changed dramatically, the targeting and testing of ads became easier and easier.
Of course millions were made and lost, people got banned and the rules or ‘quality guidelines’ changed all of the time.
The bad guys made their money and left. Leaving behind something that made the Google boy’s very rich – and good luck to them. Not only was the search engine one of the best we’ve ever seen, the ad machine behind it was brilliantly made and delivered.
Fact is, being able to put your ad in front of someone who is searching for what it is you sell or do is something we’ve never had before.
Up until then it was all about brand ads, think Coca-Cola or Tesco, and then running ads in local magazines – Tree’s Cut/Gardens mowed – free quotes, what I call hope marketing; because you only have the hope that the right person will see your message.
But with the Big G it was different it was now possible to target those people directly. Amazeballs.
Man on the street looking for a Plumber meant you could drop a link into his search results with your ad. Now with mobile it’s even easier to target the customer.
This had never been possible before.
Now we have ads on mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop, watch, inside apps, with Facebook and Instagram, all supported by Snapchat and Twitter. A seemingly endless choice.
Thing is this, all of the platforms are different and require a different approach. That said the old rules of marketing still apply. Your choice of platform will depend on where your market hangs out.
No point whatsoever advertising high end investment advice on Snapchat as your market just ain’t there.
Go read the chapter on finding a White Rhino for more on this.
Meanwhile there are a couple of additional points, basics if you like. For any of you thinking about Adwords or Facebook pay per click.
Firstly, people go to Facebook to be social and not to buy. Move from your usual pitch to a party conversation on Facebook and you’ll find you’ll get better results. With Google Adwords – test and test again. It costs you nothing to test.
We’ve all been there, minding our own business at a summer BBQ and a guy turns up and introduces himself as Colin, after a few seconds finding out your name and without even knowing anything about you, he…
… Launches into his pitch about changing your life with his brand new concept that is changing the way people buy cosmetics, washing powder, underwear, wedding dresses – whatever.
He then insists on swapping contact details so can run you through the full presentation later in the week.
He might not look like it, but he comes across like an ageing porn star looking to do one last film for old times sake – don’t be like Colin with your social media posts. Sure, make an offer but don’t be Colin.
If you’re not testing your ads, not testing your landing pages, not testing your keywords/phrases, not using the Remarketing tools and then not adding value in advance, you are missing out.
And that’s just the start.
It’s possible to get twice the click through rate at half the price by doing some simple things – that’s two clicks for £13 if you trying to get ‘Insurance Comparison Quote’ traffic. Which is obviously better than £13 per click.
Importantly, all you need to do is configure your ads properly. So few advertisers actually understand how to this even fewer do it.
Based on industry stats around 80% of Google advertisers don’t return a profit, that is an effective Google Tax on the bulk of you reading this.
Remember you can now optimise for clicks and calls along with a shedload of other options.
Meanwhile, remarketing is important. You know why you see those ads on Facebook shortly after you’ve done a Google search – that’s remarketing. You might not agree with it, you may think it’s unethical and plain wrong. Well is not as bad as some things I can think of so get over yourself just this once.
Remarketing avoids the sex on first date question, it’s a chat over coffee and then dinner. Yeah, it builds better relationships and makes you more likely to get your end result.
Knowing Your Business Numbers
Every business owner I have ever worked with has missed out on money and usually it’s because of a few simple things that have not been done – let me explain.
Let’s say you make and sell a widget.
It sells for £1 and costs £.50p to make, market, sell and ship. Profit is £.50p. Simple enough, the return on investment is 100%.
Decrease the costs of sale to £.40p (20%) by
Reducing your marketing costs
Increasing your sales conversion rates
Putting in place follow up processes to sell more at less cost
Chasing repeat orders/upsells
Asking for referral business or introductions
Reducing your Adword spend
Using social media
Using email marketing
Using joint ventures
If possible reduce other costs, website, stationary, banking, staff, heat and light – all of these are finite but useful options.
Good news is, by reducing costs by 20% you actually increase margins to 125% without doing much else.
Of course testing some price increases and finding new markets and uses for your widgets means you could increase profits exponentially.
The idea is that you don’t do this all at once, you do it over a period of weeks or months and test all the time. This is what I call — going deep instead of wide.
It really is about knowing your numbers, knowing exactly what happens when you start a marketing campaign, send an email or do some social media posting – it’s all trackable, and if it’s trackable you can make money from it (oh, if it’s not trackable stop doing it).
Yup that includes stupid stuff like placing in ads in Catholic Today when you sell contraceptive devices, ok bit extreme that one – but get my drift. Go read Finding the White Rhino again.
Meanwhile if you want evidence of how this number thing works in the real world, go look at insurance company profits.
These are business that really know their numbers – they provide you with a quote that accurately represents their risk and future profit. By knowing their numbers they can afford to pay the following PER CLICK on Adwords (July 2017 pricing).
Home and contents insurance £13 per click
Car insurance £5.59 per click *
Professional indemnity insurance £38.39
*for ‘comparison insurance’ it’s over £12 per single click.
Let me ask you how can any business afford to pay this kind of figure per click?
The answer is this. The businesses that know their numbers can.
Now I know you’ll give me all of the reasons you don’t, can’t and won’t know your numbers, three more reasons to come and join me over at the Ninjas.
Interesting point, the top three most expensive ‘clicks’ on Google are Loans and Insurance, followed by Mortgage and Morgage – you didn’t know that there is whole market for misspelt words on Google did you?
Numbers are important, knowing yours more so. Get this part of your business right and things will soon start to change.
Time Freedom – Time is the only thing you cannot get more of.
Use it wisely you never know when it’s going to run out.
Take five minutes and look around, everything you see has been created by someone, they made money from it. They exchanged their creation time for money.
Money buys freedom, fact. Money can’t buy time we know that. But it can buy you the freedom to do what you want with your time which is very helpful.
The same thinking, doing the same things that have led you to now, to here will never deliver financial independence or they would have done so by now.
If your savings balance is not going up daily or at least monthly something’s not right. Even if you don’t want to focus more on the money, use your bank balance to keep score – to work out where you are in the game.
Where are you now. How much have you got, what are you worth?
Go on add it up. This is a powerful exercise.
Get to a total of everything you own. And then add up all the income you’ve ever had in your life.
All of the wages, gifts – everything that’s ever passed through your fingers. Do it roughly there is no need to be penny accurate.
I know you can’t remember you salary in 1981 or 1996 but do your best. Once you have two figures:-
What you are worth today.
How much money you’ve had.
Add them together.
Surprising isn’t it. All that money that’s just gone into the ether with some remaining in assets. Instead of your money working for you, you’ve been trading your life to accrue it and then spent most of it on stuff.
Selling your time for money is not a good thing (think job). Many of you reading this will either be just over broke (J.O.B) or slightly over and have assets that are non income producing – not working for you.
I know what this feels like. I spent a chunk of my life like that in two separate instalments. One caused by divorce and the other by ill health. It’s messy and unpleasant and you can get out of it.
Remember this, once you have exchanged your pound (the one you’ve spent time earning) for something else, a skinny latte, Iphone or whatever widget you’ve purchased. That pound (time) will never come back to you again, it’s gone. It’s been exchanged.
You’ve traded your life for money and then given it up to someone else in exchange for what? It won’t be more life, you can’t get any more.
Sure having money means you may be able to extend your life by a bit, maybe months or possibly a few years but that’s it.
Stop Wasting Time on TV
Sure catching up on world affairs is important, but watching soaps, Eastenders etc. Is not really a good use of your life.
Let me ask you about the world affairs thing, even if you know what’s going on (and it’s always historic) can you change any of it, has your life, day, week or month been transformed by your new knowledge of what Trump or Macron said next?
Russell Brand came up with a great line about the news a few weeks back. He said “it’s not The News, it’s some news.” Rarely it is complete. It’s just one organisations opinion of something that’s already happened. Bear that in mind the next time you are tempted to watch it.
Importantly, most of the newspaper articles you’ll read are written by one person with an editor signing it off. It’s not some kind of expert article, containing the true facts, the real evidence. It’s just the opinion of around two human beings.
The Brexit thing is also amazing, instead of considering what is going to happen next, spend your time on what the opportunities are going to be?
Ask yourself the question – what value is there for me in watching another hour of TV? It’s the Matrix. All the time you are stuck in front of it you are transported into someone else’s world.
You’ll be watching people who are doing their dream jobs, living their dream lives. It really is the opium of the masses. Do I watch Towie and some of Love Island – sure.
Why, because they are mildly amusing but also full of little snippets that I can wind into an article or a PR item, maybe even to see what advertisers are saying.
But not spending hours on the sofa.
Tick- Tock – Tick – Tock
The clock is ticking. I’ve met so many people who are waiting. Waiting for the markets to settle down, waiting until the right job to come along, waiting for Labour or the Lib-Dems to be elected…
There is no point in becoming one of life’s waiters.
All of the knowledge in the world tells us that time is important – once wasted it never comes back. It’s exactly the same as spending money – once spent on stuff if never comes back. Getting more money is pretty easy once you know how, but you will never get more time – for the second time.
Waiting is something us humans (or Brits) seem to be good at. There is no time to wait, you’ll be dead before anything good happens to you.
We (all of us) waste the only resource that is not replaceable – those minutes and hours we get every day.
For those of us lucky enough to arrive at age 75 we would have lived for about 657,000 hours, and slept for about 217,000 of them leaving 440,000.
Of which some 192,000 are used up for an education (assumed to age 22).
We’d be left with with 248,000 with 27,000 or so spent on holiday (chilling for 3 weeks every year) leaving 190,000 hours left, to work (58,000 odd) and enjoy.
Seems a lot eh? Only, as we both know. These minutes and hours pass by really quickly.
Facts About Time
Every minute of every day resets every minute, what you did in the last minute does not need to resemble the next minute. You can apply that to the hour, day, week, month and year.
What happened yesterday does not force the same to happen today, you have a choice. Make different decisions. Don’t waste time.
Using money wisely allows you to leverage time. Having investment income means you can chill in the bath, watch your favourite team play, spend time with your loved ones, watch TV even. Knowing that money is continuing to come in, as if by magic.
Having income that you are not working for allows you to spend money on a house cleaner, a car valet all manner of time saving things.
You will then have time to enjoy your life, not wait for a time when you are invited by your pension provider to enjoy it. Being half dead before you become financially independent is not the right answer..
“Buy experiences not stuff” – Richard Smith.
Spending time in Costa talking about the weather and spending a tenner on coffee and cake is not an experience. Might seem like it, but it’s not.
Time saving tip – don’t bother trying to reinvent anything, it takes much too much time, you have enough to learn for the time being. Always look around to see if the problem you are trying to solve has been solved before by someone else. Never, ever try and reinvent the wheel, electricity, how to. Go Google it first. See if you can find something that fits.
Meanwhile put in place some of the things you’ll learn in this text, and once these things have started to work for you and pay an income, then you can start to look at the other options and maybe start to create your own way. At the moment, use your time wisely. Copy, rip off and re-deploy but don’t invent – – not yet.
Eighteen ways to save time or to at least use it wisely
Spend the first hour of everyday working on your business, focus
Turn off your phone, email, social at least daily for at least and hour
Write a ‘will do’ list every evening
Use the 90 day goal setting approach
Do your homework
Question each task – dump the meaningless
Don’t answer your phone
Make callbacks between one and two every day
Respond to email one or twice everyday – never in between
Never move paper twice
Focus on one thing at a time
Get an assistant
Document your processes and then outsource
Focus on the high value work. Marketing
planning, building relationships
Start a journal and use it
Use a diary/crm so your mind doesn’t need a reminder
Any one of these things is transformative – combined they’ll change your life.
Small Business, Artificial Intelligence
There’s lots of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the moment and for most small businesses and in sales and marketing it’s not going to have much of an effect, well at least not for the time being.
But for retail I think It’s going to be an issue in the same way robotics has changed manufacturing.
Interesting that Amazon, Apple and Google have all recently launched AI tools that are promising the earth, and with large chunks of the BBC’s online content being ‘machine led and written’ it’s interesting times.
That said, a well crafted email from a friend or trusted individual will do wonders to open doors or lift the spirits and sometimes provide some timely guidance.
One game changer in town is Persado, which claims to be taking engagement to a new level, via social and email content that ‘ticks the boxes’ (just hate that phrase). A lot of multinationals are using Persado as a content/engagement farm and it claiming great results. For me, I’m not buying into the hype just yet.
Persado is the first, it won’t be the last.
When you start to look at the key points on this subject you’ll note that:
The English language only has 26 letters, from which there are many millions of books that have been created, some of these have been around since before the printing press – often called Pre Gutenberg books and these continue to sell in the many hundreds of thousands each year.
It takes a certain kind of human to write information that lasts for more than twenty generations, to engage thoughtfully and to provide answers.
Machines ain’t that good yet. Sure they may be better than the average content writer but never as good as a simple, well crafted message to a friend, or from your GP or Oncologist. Often machines don’t understand context or empathy.
For us humans, it’s the contents of the message and the meaning that’s important. Writing should have an emotional connection if it is to make sense, to be enjoyed and remembered.
Machines are not going to achieve that just yet.
Small Business Lead Generation – Old Stuff Still Works.
In the depth of an old paper file I found an article I wrote some years back (2008) it’s still relevant today. So I thought I’d share.
Us self employed entrepreneurial types are always looking for the next thing, another angle, something else to look at, another problem to solve.
So we turn to books, the internet, certain podcasts and to people we share our lives with. Often looking for that one little snippet, the last bit of the jigsaw that makes it all complete. Once we’ve found that everything will work out just so. Won’t it?
But the market moves on. Google change their algorithm slightly, the cost of adwords creeps up, someone ‘up north or darn sarf’ starts to undercut your pricing and very soon the agitation that caused you to start your business in the first place, that need for freedom, the need to do it your way, the need to offer something different starts to become a noose around your neck…
…Slowly tightening but without anyone really pulling on it. At the moment it’s just a feeling that things are not what they were, for some reason it doesn’t feel right. A nag, a sleepless night, a call from the bank, your online system falling over. Your reaction is to immediately feel like it’s the end of the world, this is something big.
So you keep reading, researching, being nosey, looking around like a Meerkat on steroids, hoping for the next new thing. You buy some books, purchase some training, maybe even some consultancy, a year on things have just got worse.
This is what happens to hundreds and thousands of small business owners every year, you spend time learning, understanding and then nothing. I call it ‘bright shiny new thing’ syndrome and it ends up as ‘shelf help’ in that it sits on the shelf and stares at you.
There is little that is new, much of what you read and see is recycled, repeated, washed and rinsed, repackaged. Basically, the same shit that was being sold by mail order in 1970 has been rehashed and sold again to a new audience.
On the internet, online and in books much of the stuff you’ll get access to is regurgitated, stories that are told time and time again, and you have to stop. I’m guilty, some of this book is rehashed content I wrote ten years ago.
Listen up – do nothing with any new stuff until you have actioned that last thing you learned, the last snippet you picked up.
If you’ve not taken action on it – you’ve just been diagnosed with ‘bright shiny new thing’ disease, and your business or your life is not going to change until you start to take action by putting into practice the thing you have just spent time and money on.
I’ve seen it hundreds of times and it’s real. A very real illness.
So please don’t be that guy (or gal).
Whatever you picked up the last time you learned something, if you haven’t yet put it into practice stop where you are. Do not do another thing until you’ve started using the thing you already know about.
There is a problem, and it’s this.
You ain’t doing what you should be doing with stuff you already know, knowing more stuff ain’t gonna help.
Go fucking do.
There is a reason a lot of pre Gutenberg books continue to sell (remember these are books that were printed before mass low cost printing was available) and the reason they continue to sell is because the information contained in them is timeless and still relevant today.
These books are based around principles, fundamental things that make everything work. Stop wasting your time on new things. Look at what’s working for you now, yeah really look and then go do a lot more of it.
Meanwhile, test some different approaches whilst continuing to work the old – you’ll be amazed at how much of a shift you get. You’ll find plenty of things that work but not until you start to take some action.
Action action action. I’m starting to sound like a broken record now.
Do something, send an email, get a list of prospects and phone them, reach out to your suppliers, these are people you pay, ask them if you can do some cross marketing, offer to do the same for them first.
You’ve got loads of options, just go do something.
Here is short list of books that will teach you something on most of the pages. Yeah sure there’s some that will piss people off, religious, non religious, geeks and freaks, a few hard to read, some a bit easier.
Just remember this, there is a reason these books survive, unlike Greenshield Stamps, Woolworths and a ton of other casualties of the last fifty years. It’s all about timeless wisdom.
Here they are and not in any particular order.
The Confessions of St. Augustine
The New Testament
The Old Testament
The Apocrypha of the Bible
The Book of Proverbs
The Republic by Plato
On the Brevity of Life by Seneca
Apology by Plato
The Histories of Herodotus
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Tao Te Ching
Histories of Cornelius Tacitus
Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas
Analects of Confucius
Lives of Plutarch
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
The works of Aristotle
The works of Hippocrates
The Enneads of Plotinus
Elements by Euclid
The Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius
Geography by Ptolemy
The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
The Odes of Horace
The Kama Sutra
Canon of Medicine by Avicenna
The Canterbury Tales Chaucer
The Bhagavad Gita/The Upanishads
The Aeneid of Virgil
The Arabian Nights
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Go read some of these, I know you’ll be surprised.
I also maintain a list of other books that you should read, come and join my NINJA list for these.
Resistance Is Futile
This title is probably taken from a Doctor Who (circa 1967) or maybe even later, it certainly appeared as line in Star Trek very recently, so why the reference?
Here is the rub with resistance. Change is the only constant and our human minds hate it, the lizard brain (amygdala) a tiny but ancient part of our human brain hates it.
Change is bad as far as it’s concerned – reason being is this.
Your lizard brain has no references for new things it just doesn’t make sense to it; new environments – think a dark forest and your car breaking down; or a party full of strangers. It kicks off your flight or fight response even if the environment is harmless. It’s what it does and it’s learned over the millennia to do just that.
It’s one of the reasons you and I exist, we’ve evolved to this point and it’s the Lizard Brain that’s kept us safe. But where does this resistance come in, what causes it.
I’ve not done a lot of research on the subject but have read enough to explain a couple of things. We know that in order to move forward in our personal or business lives we need to overcome resistance, until we get our head around this there can be no change.
So here are a couple of mind tools to use in order to overcome resistance.
Focus on the benefits the change will bring you or your customer.
Work out the pressure points, exactly what is it that’s causing the resistance and make sure these things are real?
Are you lacking skills, do you need to learn these skills or can you buy them in?
Can you do some testing to try out the change? Bounce all of the above off your peer group see what they say. Doing things based on evidence – peer review makes for better decisions.
Once you’ve done these things test the resistance levels again. If they’ve not reduced, then perhaps you need to consider carefully if you really want the change you are asking for.
Perhaps it’s the (your) reason why you do what you do. Having a mission, a bloody great objective that drives you on is important. Just being half interested in something, just kind of maybe it would be nice to do, doesn’t really cut it.
When you are having a bad day, some arse on social media has been rude to you, when you’ve not converted a lead for weeks – your why will drive you on. It’s how we find cures for disease, learn how to walk and drive, learn how to read. If it’s important enough we’ll find the time, the temperament. If it’s not, we’ll open another bottle of red and play.
Short term goals.
Often the gooroos talk about setting big goals, SMART one’s, audacious ones, change the ffin’ world ones.
It’s all too much for your mind to understand fully. Sure we all want the riches, the big house, the cars and cash in the bank. That’s a given, so why make a long term goal out if it?
In order to keep your mind focused don’t ever set goals longer than three months – this keeps your head in the game. If you can’t change things in three months, you’re either lazy or stupid or need some help. Harsh? Well three months is a long enough for anyone to get change.
You might not get all you want – but you will be well on the way. Working in three month cycles means you effectively have ‘new year’s resolutions’ every three months. Difference is, these will stick.
Grow Your Business By 20% In a Few Months
Have you thought that it might be possible? I can tell you that it is. And that there is a secret sauce.
This is the thing you need to have.
A Loyalty Scheme – something that all of your customers can buy into, to accept a relationship with you in return for your very best offers and online/offline content. With GDPR now with us it makes even more sense – see you get specific actions if you offer a loyalty scheme which helps to confirm and cement your client relationship.
Preferably you need a scheme that automates your messaging and social posting, and at the same time controls your testimonials, and is findable by the internet search engines – to make you Googleable.
Customers love them – but they must be easy to use and controlled by you.
You’ll need messaging built in – no more having to cut and paste hundreds of emails or sms messages; or worse still using your mobile.
Email and SMS messaging can (and should) be preset for holidays and high days.
You’ll need to build in Daily Deals and offers – you can base these on a limited number/ or increasing in price – the same as Groupon or Wowcher without the cost and loss of control or the high costs of the same.
Throw in a direct mail facility – so you can create postcards/letters and flyers on your computer and get them printed and posted without leaving the office – at a far lower cost than conventional print and post. Importantly you can schedule these to support your email, sms and social marketing.
These are a very powerful marketing and sales system for your business.
If you build in a complete CRM system (Customer Relationship Management), a high quality diary and contact manager and your business sales will start to change dramatically.
By getting control over customer reviews you build in powerful tools = a war chest which can be used over and over again. Simple website redirects allow you to do this and keep you in control – a tell us first box.
This kind of system means you can increase sales in a way that can be controlled by you, and get your very best customers coming back and build in a review and testimonial process.
No matter what kind of digital marketing you have tried before this beats them all because it finally integrates big chunks of pre sales admin and allows you to cross sell, upsell and maintain those all important customer relationships.
It Is Proven That Loyalty Schemes Are A Sure Fire Way To Guarantee Repeat Business. Until now it has not been cost effective for small firms to do this. 2018 technology means every business owner that wants one, can have one.
Loyalty Schemes – Keep Customers Fact!
There is a lot more science behind these schemes than most small business owners actually know – the factual research follows, evidence is evidence.
Price is not the main reason for customer churn, it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service – Accenture global customer satisfaction report.
How do you manage pricing and customer service?
A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related – Bain & Company research.
How do you monitor in real time your customer service?
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% – Marketing Metrics research.
Based on these stats only the plain stupid will ignore existing customers.
For every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent – Lee Resource research.
Without having a conversation with you will never know.
A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10% – Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy & Mark Murphy.
How do you retain customers?
The reason the largest UK firms use some form of Loyalty Scheme is – because they work.
A timely offer sent via the post, email or text message just when you think you have been forgotten gets you running back to the shop to buy some more of whatever it is that’s being offered.
Like Pavlov’s Dog who salivated when a bell was rung – customers come running back.
It’s interesting, that when we think of a loyalty scheme our immediate thoughts go to a person on a checkout, in a big supermarket offering us as Nectar card or similar – there are no benefits mentioned, no reason to accept one. When what they really should be saying is ‘would you like to accept an invitation to join our customer treat group – where we provide you with all of the best weekly offers and deals along with a range of specialist services’ – only for for members?
Sure, I don’t want a fucking Nectar card, but I’d have one of these.
Of all the strategies I have put in place for clients over the last ten years – it’s communication and offers that keeps them coming back for more, creating regular and loyal customers.
Importantly they allow you to educate and inform your customers – at the same time increase sales.
Loyalty schemes make your customers feel wanted.
Loyalty schemes make your customers feel like they have a special deal.
Loyalty schemes make your customers want more.
With recent changes in technology and costs falling rapidly for web based platforms you can now compete with the ‘big players’ in your marketplace.
Once your customers are part of your scheme you have them for life, provide you keep them updated with regular offers and deals they will keep coming back.
Helps You Build A Community Of Loyal Customers – a fan base, a tribe.
Your skill is doing what you do and doing it well.
By making sure your offers are perfectly structured and timed you can switch offers on and off at will.
My Obsession With Honda Moped Engines And Your Business.
As a child I was obsessed with finding out how stuff worked. I was the kid taking apart Honda moped engines in the kitchen on a
Saturday as soon as mum popped out shopping I’d find something to take apart. This ended up in later life with a compulsion to deconstruct stuff – to find out what was going and how or why it worked.
It stood me well, being able to rewire houses and put clutches in cars in my youth. My mum however was always a bit pissed off on her return – as there was nearly always a pool of oil on the kitchen floor when she returned to the house from a few hours at Tesco.
This obsession caused me some problems in later life when I discovered computers, I actually really enjoyed taking them apart over the weekend. Not just apart but into bits.
Once, when working for a large UK insurance company I dismantled the ‘company laptop’ and was forced to take it back to the office on Monday morning with a blank face – “I dunno why it won’t turn on it just won’t” – I never did take one of theirs apart again.
That was during the 1990’s and a Toshiba Laptop was an expensive bit of kit.
What Has This Got To Do With You?
You are currently spending money on promoting your business, this money often hard earned has been taken and used by a third party. Which on the face of it seems a fair exchange.
You handed over some cash and expected something in return, and what you got was something very different.
Let me ask you – has your phone rang since you spent the money, and if so has it rung in proportion to the spend on advertising – has the number of leads gone up since the ad appeared?
What about your online advertising? If you are using a directory listing or pay per click or even some kind of social media marketing. Is it working; is your phone ringing more since you started doing this?
Is the return more than the cost?
Why I Love Taking Things Apart
When I left the large UK insurer (now merged with Aviva) I moved to managing my own teams (still with the habit of taking things apart) I spent hours testing options like the phone and direct mail with different members of sales staff, and testing all sorts of things in order to generate leads.
Of course some of these would not work now as we have different approaches but without testing you just don’t know. You need to know what happens to each moving part of your sales and marketing system.
The need to test stuff and to work things out has led me to here and now. With such a range of options to develop sales many businesses are sucked in by parasitic sales people who are just pushing the same stuff they always have.
If you Google ‘marketing for small business’ there are millions of options – most want to sell you a system or a process. But not a true answer, and certainly no hand holding. Which is where I come in.
I know you are not testing your advertising and I know the medium you have chosen to get your sales message delivered is not working as well as it could. You may well ask how I know! Quite simply I’ve worked with so many small firms and each one gives me the same excuse – it won’t work for my business, Oh you don’t understand xx or y. If you are not testing, not using ‘test methodology’ then I know you are missing out – business is business is business and yours is no different to mine or Bob over the road.
At the moment most small businesses do not use any form of tracking, tracking your customer through a ‘lead generation process’ is probably the most important thing you can do – don’t do it and it’ll cost you sales and therefore money.
How do I know this? I am the guy who has deconstructed most things at some point and now it’s how I partially earn my living. Not engines or laptops but sales processes and marketing systems.
As I write this in 2018 the choices you have in relation to getting your sales message out to the market is just amazing, probably overwhelming! And that’s a problem because the more complex the options the less decisions you will make.
Have you ever been into Starbucks or Costa and tried to order a coffee? The Barista normally looks at you like you have dog shit on your shirt, and then points to a list of over twenty coffee’s behind him.
You are in exactly the same position when deciding to create the marketing medium for your business – there are just too many options, so you stick with the first offer to take your money, and it sucks.
Like local Newspapers. Most local newspapers end up in the bottom of a Guinea Pig cage/Cat litter tray (choose your own pet) paid for by you.
Even if you were to make a choice for your marketing, which one do you choose?
You could call a specialist, social media, pay per click, SEO, PR, web designer, graphic artist.
The list goes on and on. Few of these people have ever created a sales and marketing campaign and often have never sold anything, let alone deconstructed a Honda moped engine, a laptop or a sales process.
Go ask them to explain the difference between a two stroke and a four stroke engine, the difference between diesel and petrol engines. The benefits of SEO over Adwords – most can’t or won’t.
Which is why I always start my work with new clients focusing on what they have and teaching you how to max out on these before you spend another penny. Going deep instead of wide, fact is – if you are making sales, making money then…
Like finding a good fishing spot. You should keep dipping your rod, filling your bucket until the bucket is full or fish stop biting. FFS do more of what’s working.
Deep instead of wide. Meanwhile, start to test other mediums, other approaches looking for that all elusive panacea. Because until you have found out what actually works in your market, until you have tested and grown a number of systems you will never know what is going to work.
Business marketing – What People Think The Model Looks Like.
Spend Money – Model A Spend Money Model B (sales are top right)
Because until you have found out what actually works in your market, until you have tested and grown a number of systems you will never know what is going to work. However with simple systems it’s possible to get close to Model A.
Alter, adapt and change what’s going on. Without breaking what is currently working – that way sales can only go one way … up!
Nearly all businesses do one or two types of lead generation and rarely cross sell other products or services, or even cross market – those that do (think Amazon as the best at it) end up being massive businesses. Having three or four lead generation methods, having in place a follow up system (automated) and then look at repurposing products and services along with cross selling means you will also have something to talk to a customer about.
What about partnerships and joint ventures? This has made millions for Airlines and still produces millions for the magazine industry.
A clear process for cross marketing – is one way of ballooning profits..
Importantly for you there is a formula to do just this.
Small business sales and marketing is formulaic, in that it’s possible to have in place a series of things that you do (parts of a formula) that come together as a whole which gives you a process to work with.
The full formula is like baking a cake, you need a recipe.
But if you don’t follow a cake recipe correctly, it won’t rise or won’t taste right or something will go wrong with it – it’s a chemical thing; whereas a Sunday roast is more complicated in terms of ingredients but a lot more forgiving. Little too much salt, a little over cooking and it’s not a disaster. Not so with a cake.
It’s all cooking just different.
Same with business.
Business formulae can be outsourced or handed over to staff or a third party or a freelancer in order for them to work parts of your system which frees you up to build your business. Like having or even being your own chef.
A system/formula = leverage. Whoop whoop.
Most of the work you do can be done by someone else. If you follow a formula and the processes contained within it, you can trust just about anyone to do it. Importantly, which is where it gets really sexy is that much of it can be …
No human hands at all.
So what is one of the secrets?
FMP + A = Follow up Marketing Plan +
It’s ballsy and ignored by many as ‘ being far too intensive for my business’ or worse still ‘that wouldn’t work for us’ which is plainly rubbish. Your business deals with people and they want to feel connected and in touch. Not ignored.
That hottie you met in the bar last week, and you enjoyed a moment or two with – they’re there again tonight, and they aren’t going to be very forgiving when you blank them completely. It’s human nature to be rattled by something like that. Customers are no different. Don’t blank them, date them.
Whether you’re buying in leads via Facebook at .50p a pop or doing email marketing via a joint venture partner.
FMP + A is a game changer.
It is now possible to track your customers movements and actions and provide them with information and education when they want it – without you touching it.
Importantly the systems you need to put this in place are so easy to implement (once you know how). It’s a sustainable and great way to grow a business, is easy to replicate and is guaranteed.
Don’t forget – change is coming whether you like it or not and you have a simple decision – grasp that change now or be left behind.
GDPR is the thing that is getting in the way as I write – trust me on this. GDPR is just best practice and no more.
Only Three Ways
Diploma in Management Studies 1980 – Henley.
During that time there was a real state of flux around business with a good number of ‘management guru’s’ telling us how to start, run and manage things very differently.
Most of what was taught then is ignored now, save three things and they now seem to have been forgotten.
Here they are:
There are only three ways to grow a business.
1. Get more customers
2. Increase the value of sales to those customers
3. Get customers buying more often.
The easiest way by far to grow a business is the use of 2 and 3 and 1 needs to be tested to be effective. For number 2 and 3 think Amazon and McDonald’s two of the most successful business on the planet. Just by “Going Large” increases profits by about a third! Amazon always provide an ‘other customers also…’
Can you imagine a simple question, increasing profits by thirty percent?
It does. Don’t ever get bogged down with anything else in your business, use these simple rules to grow sales exponentially. There are only three.
Sales and Selling Has Changed
Not so long ago there was no symmetry in the sales process. The seller had all of the information and all the buyer bought to the table was the means to pay.
Sellers ruled the world and there was nothing the purchaser could do about it.
Then this brand new world arrived, the information age, the age of the internet. The age of limitless information. This new world of selling is more pull than push, more equal than ever.
Let me outline the immediate areas for you to take action on or at least show you how to amend your current sales and marketing activities.
It’s important you don’t stop what you are doing. Maintaining sales is something that must be done, but you need to start building in your new approaches and testing all the time to make sure your new strategies outperform the old. Dropping those that don’t.
There is something about business marketing that some firms seem to think more complex than it really is, and the reality is that the opposite is true. It is now easier than ever to get your message out to your chosen marketplace, using your chosen medium.
Oh and don’t listen the bra-less, smock wearing, soya latte drinking, organic linen underwear mob over any of the ‘marketing institutes’ they’ll teach you little..
But if no one knows what you do, if you don’t promote your great services and products (sales and marketing) there will never be a line of buyers waiting.
Don’t ask don’t get, you may have heard that before.
Importantly don’t sell – tell. Pull not push, attract don’t pressurise. These are the new ways to market and sell.
No longer do you have to use ad agencies in order to place advertisements in the press, or magazines. Nor do you need permission from any third party in order to place ads online or off. This also means that any decisions made are yours, wrong and right.
Business marketing and then client relationship building should be the sole focus of all business owners, most of the time. Further, this is just another skill you need to know and understand, it is the most important role in your business. It’s much too important to outsource or to allow a third party to control.
Marketing and sales are the only business process that makes the business grow, everything else is a drain on resources – focused on doing the thing you do.
Yes you can delegate sales and you should, but you must keep control and understand the processes and options first. There is no point in delegating only to find that it stops working.
The final part of this new world is the use of metrics – really understanding what is going on inside your business. If you don’t know then you don’t know.
Not so long ago the car salesman knew all of the information about the vehicle. Nothing it seemed was understood by the buyer. If the buyer wanted information about the car, they had a few reviews in magazines and information from friends and family but that was about it.
An Austin 1300GT – why did I ever buy it?
When I managed to save enough to purchase my first car, I had £900 of fresh and crisp ten pound notes. Thumbing through the local paper looking at ads.
Found what I wanted. It had some service history and a new MOT. Perfect, a white Austin 1300 GT.
Did I need to know more?
It looked good in the paper so I called the dealer and he offered me a deal, come down drive it – make an offer. How could I resist?
Finally got off the bus outside of the dealer’s corner plot in Palmers Green (that’s North London) and it was parked on the front, all gleaming.
It had the black interior and a vinyl roof. The ultimate in cool!
At the time there was nothing I could check, just a viewing and a quick drive and the deal was done. How proud was I.
Within weeks little niggles started to appear and it turned out to a be a rotten wreck. I ended up taking up matters with the MOT station and submitting a formal complaint.
Cars don’t rot in weeks and the MOT test was surely flawed. It should never have passed an MOT let alone be sold as good.
You may remember the song from Godspell.
…if you are smart you will learn your lesson well.
And I sure did that I can assure you.
The car itself was pretty poor, but was very poor by design. And it sure wasn’t helped by some of the ‘work’ that had been done to it by the dealer. I assume.
The car was unroadworthy and should never have passed an MOT test. The dealer knew exactly what he was selling – the knowledge was asymmetric I understood little and he knew it all.
But the bill of sale binding my purchase was watertight. Those words that are forever etched on my mind – Sold as Seen and Approved
Later in the 80s we had further consumer laws introduced to solve some of the problems with cars. These laws were introduced to protect consumers across the world. These laws prevented the sale of known problem vehicles and other goods.
For Years It Had Been All Too Easy.
It was easy for the car salesman to dupe the buyer into making a decision – they had all of the information about the product being sold and if it was a used car, usually some connection with the previous owner.
The latin term caveat emptor ( buyer beware)was then known by everyone, except me.
Buying anything twenty five years ago was a leap of faith, buying anything on price twenty five years ago meant getting on the phone, jumping in the car or browsing through catalogues for hours. Nothing was easy.
Moving forward to today, there are loads of magazines and dedicated TV channels for just about every subject. If you want a review from your peers in the world of consumer products there are websites and related media everywhere.
Everybody’s an expert and all of the information is out there is free and sometimes a little unhinged. More often than not a little ‘dunning-kruger.’ In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability have illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is.
Of course not all you read on the internet or in Newspapers is true and accurate you just need to look at reviews on hotel or holiday resorts to find out everyone’s opinion.
The public can say what they want and where they like online. Websites and forums, the likes of Qype have millions of reviews listed, some of these are not accurate or true but who cares. The public lap up the details and make decisions based on what they find.
I have no idea how much a Which ‘Five Star Rating’ is worth in sales, nor how many more Top Gear ‘reasonably priced’ cars have been sold – but it will have an impact we know that.
But there is more to it than that. Going back to the car analogy.
Every consumer can now check lots of information online and off, for a small payment they can now get access to background checks – insurance write off information, manufacturer recalls, independent reviews and much more.
MOT’s can be checked online and cars that are not roadworthy just don’t get past the MOT tester.
You may remember going to an restaurant whilst on holiday, looked nice from the outside and with the band playing it was perfect.
Food seemed reasonably priced, in you went. Experience was not good, service was poor and the food just about acceptable.
Pricewise all of the food was more than that stated on menu. All in all a complete rip off. Twenty years ago you’d just write it off as a bad experience, as a one off.
And plenty of overseas restaurant owners made good money ripping off tourists. No more, we now have Google and Tripadvisor.
The shyster restaurant owner will never make it to the second season.
Information is symmetrical.
No longer is the salesman the only source of information.
For car manufacturers (indeed every seller of products) the problem is even greater, customer service or lack of is soon reported.
Shared on social platforms and forums, indexed by Google and returned in search results. Warts and all are there for all to be seen.
What was Asymmetric is now Symmetrical. Skewed ever so slightly in favour of those holding the cash.
Now we have a situation turned on its head, the information is out there. Everything a customer needs to know is published for their reading or listening pleasure to anyone that wants to know.
What started to become symmetrical in the late 80’s with the likes of Which Magazine and What Car has now become very asymmetric only in the customer’s favour. Why?
Because the customer now has access to the information – at the end of the smartphone or tablet, even from some car dashboards. Everything they need to know is available and they also have the money.
Every transaction is a movement of value – who has the cash is in charge of the deal.
Some of this has been seized on by a number of firms, getting a coffee while browsing in a shop, music in banks. All of this is designed to relax the customer – make it easy for them to consume, to lull them in. It’s all about creating an experience.
Of course some firms have become more creative than that and are putting together finance deals that surprise and encourage customers to buy cars and other expensive items.
Given that small family hatchback is now the same price per month as the combined cost of gas and electricity. I am not surprised that car sales have remained fairly buoyant.
It’s worked so well that in 2017 the Bank of England is warning of a car finance bubble. By my reckoning new cars sales are increasing not because of sales or marketing skills. It is entirely because of creative finance deals.
And if you are not selling cars you’ll be faced with similar issues that will be larger or smaller depending on your product or service.
At one time there was a clear path, the salesman had the information and the knowledge, all the customer had was the money. Now the customer has access to the knowledge and has the money.
Selling has changed forever.
Price comparison sites tell the potential consumer of your service how much they should expect to pay. Identical mass produced products can be compared in an instant.
Ebay and Amazon are pushing their largest retailers to offer ‘includes shipping’ prices to make it easier for them [Ebay and Amazon] to gain market share. This means that your customer can make an immediate decision to buy knowing that the total costs of the product competes. If you are selling mass produced products for a mass market you are in a lot of trouble.
Customer complaints and poor service – it’s very quick for bad news to be shared, and with reviews and ‘seller ratings’ you can very quickly work out what deal to go for. You know that within seconds information about your business can be given to fifty or more people using any one of the many networks, dependent on their own privacy settings this could be appearing in thousands of feeds.
Business Lesson From Nursery Rhymes –
There’s a Hole In My Bucket…
…Dear Liza a hole.
Do you remember the nursery rhyme, that ended up going round in circles, no matter how Henry tried to repair his bucket, deadlock was the only outcome.
The bucket still leaks no matter what he tries.
Business owners seem to spend so much of their time trying to fill their buckets, only with far more expensive things than water. Leads!
Leads are a the lifeblood of any business; so the marketing gurus will tell you. The mantra “you must focus on getting new clients into your business or you will die” is the one that’s normally spouted.
Of course it’s a popular mantra – keep a good flow of leads coming into the business – top up the bucket!
But it’s flawed. It does create freedom from worry – the phone just keeps on ringing if you are lucky.
The problem with this one strategy is – it’s just not efficient; you end up leaving many thousands in profit on the floor, and it’s no way to grow a business long term.
The maths of it are simple. Existing clients are more profitable, fact! You can keep chasing the new clients with all of the expense incurred, or build and alternative reality.
Fish in your own bucket once it’s full but you must make sure the holes are plugged first.
The benefits are obvious – the people in the bucket already know, like and trust you; are aware of what you do and how you do it, they are prepositioned to buy.
Maybe not now but with a little planning and communication with them it is far easier to sell more stuff to them than it is to new customers.
There are other benefits of having relationships with existing customers – more referrals, higher spend and far more profitable sales are a few. The main thing is the reduced cost, in that it’s going to be a lot less expensive to sell to someone that already knows you.
Based on some recent work I have been doing, sales from existing clients are being picked up at virtually no cost, and the average sale is higher.
Average sale is up from £42 to £49 and marketing costs are reducing to less than 3% of turnover from 5%. Do the maths in your own business.
Here are a couple of snippets that will help you grow business from your existing customers.
Regular emails – not the ‘look at us ain’t we great’ or the idiotic emails that many send. You know the type ‘Acme Limited Newsletter’ (I cringe when I hear the word newsletter even mentioned in an email) you need to send problem solving emails, preferably with a story and then ask them to buy something.
Paper Newsletters – sent at least monthly (get in touch for some tricks on this), again with no ‘salesy stuff’ just, information and an offer. No one likes to read a smarmy sales pitch from a supplier.
Telephone – put a dedicated team in place to call customers on a regular basis, not to sell anything just to chat. Yes I know that might sound a bit intensive – but if you don’t care for your customers who will?
You won’t ever know when your customers decide to start using your competitor unless you do at least some of the above.
There are plenty of benefits to using just the above three things, and I can hear you all groaning that ‘this won’t work in my business’ or ‘how can I resource this’ along with loads of other negatives. The FACT is this it works – this is working smart and not hard.
Put some processes to work so you can stop chasing the new business so hard and bring some quality into play. Look we all need new leads and you need to create a process for that, but the real long term gain is what you already have in your bucket – farming not hunting.
Cash Flow will be improved along with a corresponding increase in profits, all by putting in place a few systems.
Direct Market v Branding v PR
I read a post on Facebook a while ago, it’s not mine. Belongs to a group – don’t know the name now, bit remiss of me. If you know who they are let me know and I’ll give a full credit for the explanation.
Knowing what you do for a living, what problems you solve as business is really helpful in all kinds of situations – importantly the type of marketing you do is important, it makes the difference between a pretty crappy business and a really good one. So think about this snippet, you’ll find it helpful.
There are many different ways to market your business or yourself and this short piece is an interesting explanation of the various types. You should, in the main only be doing ‘direct marketing’.
When you go to parties, people always ask what you do for a living. When you tell them “direct marketing” they will nod and you will know they are clueless.
People don’t really know the difference between the various flavors of marketing & advertising. And book definitions don’t always help. So below is a more pragmatic way of explaining your line of work and its different specialties.
You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You walk up to her and say, “I’m great in bed.” That’s Direct Marketing.
You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You ask your friend to walk up to her and say, “See that guy over there? He’s great in bed.”
You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You get her phone number from someone. The next day yu call and say, “I’m great in bed.”
You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. You comb your hair, straighten your tie, then ask if she’d like a drink. You chat and joke with her throughout the evening, offer her a ride home, walk her to her door, then say, “By the way, I’m great in bed.” That’s Public Relations.
You’re at a party and see a beautiful woman. She walks up to you and says, “I know you. You’re the one who is great in bed.” That’s Brand Recognition.
You need to be good at all of these and adapt to your situation.
Email Marketing – It’s All About The Relationships
Some of you already know that I love email. Even with GDPR which is just another smokescreen. Of course it will have an impact on your small business – it will – you’ll have to do things properly. Like look after your client data – but it won’t change much I promise.
Meanwhile – sex on first date. How many times has it happened to you, was it good, did it last? My response to the question is probably not.
In order to build up a relationship that lasts we need nurturing, tummy rubs, foot massages. Sunday evenings on the sofa. Email marketing is the killer app for relationships.
Just think about how you use it. Personal messages from the other half, arrangements for a family summer bash, updates from the dentist.
All the things that are personal to us and that used to be posted in envelopes now comes down the ether into our email.
Post, physical mail is a thing of the past which is why you should be doing a lot more of it, but now it’s all about the technology and email still works, and with the so called smartphone (let me tell you they ain’t that smart). But they are always on, an always connected to email. Which is why you should be using more of it.
Not sending update after update but using it to build a relationship with your customers and potential customers, using it as an influencing tool to provide your expertise when it’s needed.
Importantly it’s cheap and dead easy to use.
Email is and always has been the killer application for the modern age, it transcends Social Media – you can’t have a conversation in 240 characters (but you should write email headlines in 130 – that’s for another time). You can’t pay your gas bill without an email address.
Ignore email at your peril!
Remember I mentioned earlier about this whole issue of sex on first date, well email is the baby oil on the whole arrangement sliding from a coffee to bed in easy steps. Trust me.
Provided you add value and don’t get all salesy on them, email works and works well.
Do This In Your Business and Get Results
My little one ended up with a flat tyre on Saturday evening. It was Dad to the rescue.
My local tyre place offered me a budget price when I popped in with a wheel this morning. I never buy cheap tyres, and ended up with a premium range purchase at £55 rather than £40, but I had to ask. It wasn’t offered.
Don’t make the same mistake every business owner makes and assume I want the cheapest option. Fact is, if everyone was purchasing cheap – there would be no premium ranges on sale. Assume your customer only wants the cheapest and you’ll leave many ££’s of profit on the table.
They are coming in to buy so why not give them a chance to decide what they want, rather than you telling them. You are not your customer, you don’t decide how much they spend – they do!
The same tyre place didn’t offer me a discount on a future purchase if I join the email list, or an add on Twitter or Facegram, or collect my home address and mobile number.
It could have been as simple as “we offer a special service to our existing customers – pre arranged fitting times that save you waiting, and discounts on some products and services, no obligation. Just join us on Facegramtwit or leave your email address here”
There is a ton of new business to be done without spending more money on advertising – but you do need to work at it.
That’s why my offer (at the end) is so valuable.
Who’d Want a Job
I’ve just picked up my copy of Marketing Week which has headlined that ‘Santander employ over 300 members of staff on one hour contracts, yeah, that’s right one hour.
It’s funny, that us business owners always think that employees have the best of it, when in fact the opposite can be true. What happens I wonder when Santander reduce this one hour to nil (zero hours), my guess is not much.
This issue is not going away, having a job is now as risky as running a business, only you are in charge of your business.
But what happens to your business when?
Google change the rules and your website goes from page one to page seven.
Facebook stops you targeting people that have liked your pages.
When a small change in legislation means you can’t phone your ‘past customer list’ (GDPR from 2018).
All of these things have happened in recent years and months, and will continue to happen. When people stop reading newspapers, advertising in them is no longer a viable solution to getting new clients – go and check out the Guardian website.
They are reduced to begging for payment halfway down an article – hoping you’ll drop them a pittance or something.
If are doing the same as my local tyre shop you don’t have much choice but to join the losers relying on the Big G.
Clickbait – “Doctors thought this baby was dying until this happened” adverts all over the place – online there are more and more of these appearing. Yet, the cost for each click is going up.
How is a business like yours going to cut through or even afford these costs of this? Clickbait, in my opinion just aggravates customers so they are less likely to click on links on web pages; I’m absolutely sure about this.
Meanwhile, when you are ready to get some uber friendly help on this – and move towards your business being self sufficient you can join my ‘self employed Ninja group of die hards’.
You can be doing more and more to make sure your business helps more and more – but you can’t do this in the old ways. Remember, the more people you help the more sales you’ll make and the more money you’ll bank – not fucking complicated is it.
Where Are We Now? Salespeople are a problem
Over the last few years I have met a good number of business owners who are moving away from having salespeople, experienced and suited, polished shoes, nice ties. You know exactly what I mean.
They are being replaced – by great customer service people, happy to chat and pour a coffee. Taking the pressure off, attracting customers not pulling them in.
They use social selling and build relationships around the itch cycles for your business (three years for cars, five for houses, six for caravans) – all your salespeople should be doing is building relationships and using the information to hand, looking inside the CRM, sending real letters with real stamps. Engaging with real people.
From a car manufacturer’s perspective all of the brand building is done by them, the information is published – at the dealer you just need competent communicators that have all of the skills of an Oncologist – to make you feel at ease at the moment of most pain, and to stay in touch.
Of all the new cars I have purchased in the last ten years (4 all new) only one ‘sales person’ has bothered to stay in touch – and they have won two of the deals. Why? Because they care about me. I don’t care much for the cars – they are ok.
But cars are not my thing. I replace them often because I hate the repair thing, and only want to drive them. Not sit in workshop waiting.
Both of my last replacements started with an email – Hiya Richard, long time no speak, how are the kids? Fancy a coffee if you are passing or something non salesy.
Can do you brilliant deal on a part-ex if you are interested?
I replied – popped in for a coffee, done a deal. All in all the process lasted two weeks.
All of my personal information was pre populated on the finance forms, read, approved and I awaited the call when it was ready for collection.
Dealer gets one more on the board and gets a valuable part exchange.
The wheels of business turn nicely – when you use the systems that are available. When you focus on relationships and not selling.
Easy not hard.
I didn’t need to research, all of the content I needed was available. I liked the guy at the garage, he followed up in non salesy way and gave me what I wanted. Simple.
If I did want to know more I am sure an email back would have provided some selected independent reviews, and supporting information. Just enough information to make a buying decision.
No amount of social media, online or offline marketing, direct mail or other would have made me call the garage, but a timely email – how are you? Started it all .
My question to you is what are you doing to engage with your customers on their itch cycle, you are sitting on records and information that are a goldmine – that just needs digging for.
The sales in your business are direct reflection to the level of engagement with your customers, is your coffee hot, do you have staff that can converse and not sell, do you have staff that can follow up?
That is the key to sales when information is everywhere – and the money is on one side. Your business depends on making sure you control the information, and control the relationship. This will help ensure you are not competing with every other me too business in the marketplace.
Try it, phone or email a client today.
Ask them how they are, ask them if they fancy a coffee. You will do business this week I promise. Whatever you do don’t try and sell them a thing, just engage.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get my head around a number of business decisions, perhaps offloading some clients that are no longer serving me as well as they were and along with some other changes.
Working through the decision making process I’m reminded that a little part of my mind is overly optimistic.
Two clients have taken up much more of my time in the last six months than all of the rest, sure they have their own difficulties and I’ve been able to help them. That’s good.
Problem is they are not serving me well, not allowing me to develop a couple of things I want to do.
So here’s the problem.
The smoker who thinks it won’t kill him, it’ll kill the other guy.
The teenager who is drinking heavily thinks – it’ll be alright – it makes me more confident which is a good thing, right?
You and your business with the mindset of it – it’ll be alright, no need to make the changes now. You’ll see, it’ll pan out, you watch.
These are known as optimistic biases and they are not good for us. Despite the evidence against the view we sometimes think we’ll get away with it, things will turn around, clients will change.
In a world of practical optimism (realism) you know the answer to the questions and the sooner you accept that and push forward your own agenda the quicker you’ll get the change you need.
What things do you have biases about?
Go change them.
Sacrificing Your First Born
It all seems a bit different, a bit harder now.
Everyone seems distracted, heads stuck into phones, ear buds in. All stuck in their own little world. How do you as a business owner break through all of that?
Now, the information that was once privy to a few people– the sellers. Is now available to everyone via the internet. Competitor analysis is now at the end of a smartphone, if you make or sell widget A and your closest competition makes widget B some forty miles away, then your customer will know. It will probably appear in the same search page.
The customer then makes a decision based on factors such as price, perceived quality, delivery times, collection times, is it simple to buy, is there a one click button, is delivery guaranteed.
Can I collect during the evening, is there a choice of colours, how can they trust you, the list goes on.
The small problem for you as a business owner is this, you are not making the decision to sell; your potential customer is making a decision to buy (or not) from you, they are really in control. I’ve explained earlier about the issue of information symmetry, describing how information control is now firmly in the consumer’s domain and not yours.
But is that really true?
By taking a slightly different approach with your sales and marketing, being more honest about what makes you different, what makes your product different, by using the relationship you have built to create rapport and empathy with your potential customer; you will automatically make your business and your product different – make it stand out.
Therefore making the decision to buy process much simpler. The problem is most business owners don’t and it’s a road (even a fairly long one) to the poorhouse.
The evidence is all around you, the thousands of small businesses that don’t make it past their first three years of trading. Nearly all of these are either trying to sell something that consumers don’t want or don’t stand out as being worthy.
The first plumber that offers guaranteed appointments, with staff in suits or offers a no mess guarantee and brings their own tea and coffee will be the one that makes the most money locally.
The first Accountant that does evening visits, with a no cost guarantee – i.e that offers to save at least as much tax as their annual charge, will also be the one that does more business than the competitors.
And each of of those plumbers and accountants will provide hundreds of reasons of why they can’t do any of that and that explains why they’ll be history sooner than they think.
The hairdresser that offers a pre-club blow dry with a limo to the pub on Saturday evenings will be the busiest. I can hear you laughing at these, but I am not trying to be funny. These really are things that people want.
Fact is you need to make yourself different, do something different.
If you want to build a unique club of raving fans you need to stand out, stand for something. Or not.
The choice is yours, but the information dump is going to increase as Google and Facebook along with others continue to push for more data, and make this available to everyone. All of that information is going to shift what people know and who they interact with.
Once you have worked out what your differences are, what you do that makes you stand out, you then need to build some technology into the sales process and then start to tell your story. It’s so darn easy now.
Your story is important, it makes you unique, stand out. You didn’t start selling tyres or tiling bathrooms just because you just needed the money, you developed and learned an aptitude for it, you love doing the awkward job that no one else likes – whatever it is tell your story.
None of these are the right answer for you, sometimes the answers maybe more than one of these.
I speak to business owners every day (I do actually live by what I say) who want a quick fix, to sell some vouchers, to do some social media, to run some Google ads – all of which are doomed to failure in the short to medium term.
Really, you may as well sit in your back garden and burn five pound notes, at least the fire will keep you warm for a bit! There are no quick fixes, not in this life nor any other.
Quick fixes are doomed to failure because that’s what everyone else is doing, all looking for a quick solution when what’s required is a long term game plan.
I dare you to look after your customers like you are going to be serving them for the next hundred years, go on I dare you. That’ll make you stand out. It’ll also make you do things very differently.
On Social Media
How many retweets, likes or shares have you banked this week? How many vouchers have you sold with no profit?
These things are only tools to help you with your message, they are tactics. Tiny tools to help you on your way – they are not business panaceas that solve all problems.
Cashflow, deal flow and a return on the cash spent is the only thing you should be focused on. Fuck likes – you can’t bank em!
Importantly, by using many of these social media tools you don’t even own the content or the platform or the relationship with the potential customer.
Your Facebook page can be pulled by them at any time. Your Google Ad’s can be banned, or your site delisted at any time. Then what?
Boom, your business is gone.
Your business can make more sales, you can increase your profits and put more cash in your pocket along with burying your competitors all at the same time. But you can’t do that copying everyone else.
There are easy ways of doing business, more fun ways of doing more business.
You can keep your first born for the time being, you won’t have to drown kittens or pay the King’s Ransom. Just thinking about the obvious is a start and then ignoring what everyone else is doing.
I don’t often read the papers…
When I do there’s always a black cloud that starts to appear. This morning I’d been drawn into the news from the Telegraph that ‘retail sales’ are down and Easter looks like it’s going to be bad for much of the high street.
Visa are reporting in the same article that spending is down by quite a lot. Blah, blah. It goes on and on. Bad news sells newspapers I guess.
Meanwhile some of the larger retailers are focusing on the experience, which is why you’ll keep seeing coffee bars appearing, like inside Next or a Starbucks inside the local cinema, and there is a reason for this.
Either people have enough stuff or they just want to spend hard earned on other things. For me I don’t see how sitting in a Next drinking coffee is an experience.
This seems to be supported by Visa who say that cinema and hotel spending is up. Ok, perhaps not enough for a complete trend, but interesting to note.
Meanwhile Amazon are looking to take on an army of ‘home workers’ – minimum wage type stuff to work in their customer services departments.
Not in the valuable office/warehouse space but at home, where the employee picks up the heating costs over the winter, avoids travel and clothing costs, may even save a little on child care – but does get them freedom from the office politics – I’d hope so.
I really don’t miss those ‘coffee machine moments’ with the negative idiot from admin, so working from home suits me, just saying.
What does all this add up to?
It’s the only thing that’s a constant. Go read some of the Buddhist writings on the subject. It’s not the strongest or largest that survive, it’s the most adaptable and usually small.
Just look at what happens when the railway or buses start to play up, go ask some of the business in Brighton about the impact of the Southern Rail disputes on retailers in the Laines, or the Irish shopkeepers about the bus strikes over there which are causing mayhem.
Everyone of these businesses is dependent on someone else, something else filling an important role – like getting new business in.
The key for you, in your business, especially if it’s retail is this. What are you reliant on, who is going to guarantee you the footfall so you can make sales?
If it’s not you then Southern Rail, the bus drivers, the local council – they all decide, not you.
And that’s no way to run a business.
You’ll also note that large retailers are struggling to move forward in these times. Most of the staff are still living in the dark ages, most of the board members don’t listen to Radio 1 are not down with the hipsters – they are sitting in their ivory towers hoping it’s all going to return to normal – it’s not.
That’s why I teach small business how to get this online stuff sorted out, how to build a massive database of information and connections, how to be self reliant and know what to do next. Systems, principles, automation.
Once you have some of this stuff you become a tiny but invincible business that can go do epic stuff, feed your kids, have time out of the office. You can move fast, test things today. The reason so many retailers are under pressure and closing – is because they have become an irrelevance in today’s consumer world.
Adapt, learn, test and move. Or die. That is your choice.
Coming next, the money stuff.
THE MONEY STUFF
Things The Financial Industry Won’t Tell You And What To Do About It.
Money Mindset and the Pure Magic Of Compounding.
The Little Book Of Money – The Not So Obvious Things
The Stupid Arsed Way of Becoming Financially Independent
Wayback in 2010 I started to think about what it was that was needed, what advice would I offer my children as a blueprint for their financial lives, what was going to change for them and what they needed to do.
As a parent, what were the few principles and skills they needed to get, to understand.
It’s obvious to me now that major shifts are coming and everyone needs to insulate themselves from any financial storm. Since 2010 we’ve seen some massive changes and these are likely to continue.
Honestly, there is nothing to be afraid of. You just need to be prepared.
The following advice, wrapped up in a few rants — is the information I want my kids to have, to know.
In recent years incomes have fallen and we have a new kind of person, one who is unlikely to ever get on the property ladder, one who is likely to end up with more job insecurity that ever and one who is unlikely to ever feel truly settled.
The same person will be watching ultimate capitalism build flats or homes in multiple occupancy for them. To provide them with rooms to live in, not to call home but just to exist.
These same people will also end up with jobs that pay just over minimum wage despite having record levels of debt to the cover the costs of an education that many people got for free. There is a clear shift going on.
Look, it’s very easy to be all downbeat and negative about all of this.
Sure, there is a shift going on, things are changing but where we have some negatives there are also many positives.
Information that was once difficult to come by is now all around us.
Connecting with people on the other side of the world is now done virtually free of charge via a number of social platforms. If you are under thirty now your parents are probably clueless about modern social tools – realistically still liking cat pictures on Flakebook.
We are understanding more and more about how our minds operate and what effect that has on our life outcomes, for those of you in your twenties – by the time you get to forty or fifty there is a chance there’ll be a cure for cancer, you’ll know more about the human mind than ever before and we should be on the road to a cleaner planet and a far superior political system.
I don’t buy into all of the negatives, sure change is coming – it always has. Not all of the change is going to be accepted as good, but it’s change nonetheless. Nothing stays the same music, fashions, weather patterns all change.
I want both of my children to embrace the change and I want them to do it using the leverage that is now available.
Events like Brexit, Trump are forcing the issues. Bringing more and more bumpy transitions. The media (whoever they are) want you to think that these changes are massive – they are not. They are just transitions. Allowing women to vote, discovery of penicillin, controls on sewage, the internet are all far bigger things and have all happened in very recent history and these are just transitions.
So, this is is it. The things I think my children (Gen Z – Millennials) need to know and understand fully, and I am pleased to be sharing them with you.
I s’pose I should come clean with you. This is not going to be another book telling you to pull yourself up from your socks and get some focus and your life will be perfect. It’s not.
Neither is it a book full of solutions [although there are quite a lot]. It does contain one hell of a lot of truth about how the financial services industry, advisers, product providers and various Government funded organisations systematically work together to keep many people poor.
If I was going to get all conspiracy theory on you, I’d say there is a reason a financial education is not provided at school – I’m not but hold that thought.
You will also find out the truth about what really works, how money really makes money and what do if you currently have limited finances.
It is a condensed series of ideas that if implemented will change your financial future, but I’ll be honest. It’s a bit, well “Donald Trump” in it’s approach.
Blunt, a little bit aggressive but oh so true.
I started to research the shift that was going on in 2010 when I retired from my financial services business, what started then has continued it’s march forward.
We are now at a stage where the financial services industry continues to screw the public over, it’s still mis-selling on a grand scale and regulation is incredibly weak.
I’ve known for a while that change is needed and when you combine modern research tools (the internet) that with some of the old school teachings and philosophy – things that very wealthy people have always done. It all adds up to a new way of doing things, tried and tested principles welded to modern tools.
As I write this in 2018 we have seen further mis-selling going on with some staff from the former British Steel. A handful of independent advisers have managed to provide a metric fuckton of bad advice which the regulator is now going to sort out.
This goes to show, that what was happening in the 80’s and onwards, is still going on. Despite regulation, compliance and tax breaks the financial services industry manages to steal ( very effectively) from consumers.
Which is why you need to have an understanding of financial matters and know how to spot a scam, how to spot good advice. How to do this yourself. If you know how to spot a trick then you’ll never ever fall for one, never. The old lines – if it looks too good to be true it probably is and buyer beware is as true now as they ever were.
But, it goes deeper than the plain mis-selling. Financial advice as we know it doesn’t work for the masses or indeed for the individual anymore.
See, financial planning hasn’t changed much in thirty or forty years; neither in terms of the type of advice offered or the products.
And there has been some major changes in how we live our lives, in how we do things. Fundamentally, financially services firms are doing exactly the same things they were doing in 1907 now not fit for purpose.
A Couple of Steps
By simplifying your thoughts about your financial future, planning can be broken down very easily.
Leveraging the funds you have/ funds you will have by investing smartly and focusing on charges and income. These being the only things about the investment markets you can control.
Spreading your investments.
Making sure and dependents and debts are insured in case you die early.
Reducing the amount of tax you pay or will be likely to pay.
Ensuring things are structured correctly, ownership, trusts, Wills
Of course within these simple bullet points there is a little more complexity, however by investing flexibly (outside of pensions) reducing debt, including mortgages. Making sure you consider the tax implications both before, during and after and then making sure that your dependents and creditors are dealt with at your eventual or early death. You’ll be clearly ahead of the money game.
Remember you just need enough, enough for you pre zimmer and enough for you to spend before you get to old.
Enough for mini retirements (holidays of a month or more), enough to make sure you can leave a job without having another one to start, holding enough short term cash to provide all the flexibility you need. That’d be my plan for you.
It’s easier than you think.
Why You NEED To Get A Grip On This Today?
I talk a lot about how things are changing and how things will continue to change. With that in mind here are some reminders about why you need to take control of your finances and sooner rather than later.
Record House Prices
House prices have never been more unaffordable for many and this is not going to change anytime soon. The Government stats report (June 2016 ) that house prices in London, on average are now over £560,000 – for each semi-detached property which is eye wateringly unaffordable.
Forced Savings – Auto Enrolment Pensions (AEP)
It’s now mandatory for all employees to make contributions to and AEP, with no consideration of personal circumstances.
Mortgages, credit card debts should be settled before any investments are made but no mention is made of that before you are forced to invest.
Remember once you make payment into a pension scheme there is no way of getting it out until you are closer to death – sure your employer is forced to make payments to the scheme – but so are you.
Pensions are not an investment that should be considered as part of a medium term plan for life. Sure, you need to build up a lump of money to use but pensions should be considered as one part of the mix, not the panacea – the final solution. And you know full well, if you are being forced by legislation to do something – at best it will only be helpful to half of the population. Now, forcing people to pay off credit card debt would really help – but that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.
Surely, given that the largest slice of personal expenditure is on housing costs, surely the Government should be forcing you to make payments toward owning your own home – it’s not.
It’s all about Planning Regulations – no it’s about the boomers.
We live on an island, land is always going to be at a premium. No matter what colour of Government – Blue or Red, there have not been enough houses built. Firstly, they seem to think it’s the house builders who are not building enough – they won’t. As a business all they are interested in is profit.
Secondly – we have a whole load of ‘baby boomers’ who don’t want land developed, who want things to stay the same. They want their arses wiped in the nursing home – but they don’t want to blight their view by having the nurses living in ‘new build’ at the bottom of the garden.
These people (the boomers) also turn out to vote, so political parties listen to them.
Despite record levels of taxation and record levels of borrowing by Government, the level and type of services and benefits provided is shrinking. It’s not a recent thing – it’s a long term thing.
You can’t rely on or consider seriously any Government coming to save you and you certainly can’t rely on the the State Pension Promise.
Increasing Levels of Taxation
A bit later you’ll read my chapter on Alison Average and you’ll start to see just how much tax is paid overall. Sure, we’ve seen personal allowances go up in recent years but the total tax take, the tax on spending has increased. Council Tax has also increased.
Until there is wholesale change in taxation like, increases in unearned income taxes, like capital gains and inheritance tax these increases on spending will continue.
The conundrum here is where is all of the increased taxation going? It’s certainly not being used to fund the NHS or repair roads. Answers to that on an email please.
Increasing Life Expectancy
Since the last war, we’ve seen our expected time on the planet increasing. This has stalled in recent years. Obesity, caused in part by food manufacturers and lifestyle changes is likely to put a brake on things. But getting to eighty at least is probably going to be how far most of us get.
Problem is, we are starting to take supportive drugs a lot sooner in our lives and for many over seventy, they are on a whole range of treatments and often without the quality of life they expected.
Getting off your arse on daily basis, just get out of breath. Cook meals at home – so you know what’s in it will provide you with a long and happy life. Sure, stay off the street drugs, slow down on the French/Spanish anaesthetic and you’ll be a lot healthier than many.
Governments Are Behind The Times
Whether it’s crypto currency or data protection. House building, social care or wholesale reform of the taxation system. Governments are bad at planning – they were good at it. But are now bad. The evidence is all around you.
Don’t wait for changes in legislation to make your finances or your life better. It will be a long wait. Make the most of all rules as they are now and be prepared for changes when they come – because they will.
Before you ask me about the whole cryptocurrency thing, don’t think for one moment that there is much cash in the normal banking system – there isn’t – don’t think for one moment that when Local Bank lends money to Builders ABC it does so in cash – it doesn’t – it’s all digital.
We Are All A Long Time Dead
You and I blunder through life thinking that we have plenty of time. And then ten years fall away and another ten on top of that. Shortly we’ll look back and whole lifetime has past. Where did it go, what really happened?
A little reminder, sure have some focus on the long term. But this is really a journey, your life will slip into the ether and you’ll be dead.
You don’t know when it’s coming – it’s the only guaranteed, nailed on absolute certainty in your existence. You are going to die.
Live you life like you understand that.
The few pointers I provided can all be viewed negatively, I didn’t really want to give you an opinion on them. They are facts, and there are plenty of others to be factored in. I raise them with you because once you know something, it’s impossible to unknow it.
Now you know it – you can start to make a slightly different plan. That is what I want for you. To understand what is going on, what the shifts are and to give you the chance to change how you approach your money and the rest of your life.
It makes no difference where you are now, you must be alive or you wouldn’t be reading this. By making a few different decisions your future will be substantially different.
Just so you know I am on this journey with you.
These are a few of the major shifts that are continuing to create change.
The internet is changing everything.
Financial planning is now only available to the wealthy.
Pensions are not fit for purpose or modern lives.
Understanding money/leverage/time are more important than ever.
Building your own business (even part time one) is now super easy and I would suggest mandatory.
We now have major worldwide corporations controlling the news, the economy – many big businesses now control how much in taxes they pay, corporations are making their own rules.
There is a perception that in order to get a good job you need a degree, which entails massive debt before a career can start. Seth Godin talks about being “fenced in, like a trapped fox.”
Never before has it been required for you to be £60k in debt before you can get a decent job, to get on the treadmill, and then have interest on that debt charged at double the cost of a car loan (2018 Student Loan rates).
Industrialisation, that allowed my parents to survive on single income is over, like the farming era before it. We are now in knowledge based economy, and I think that’s good. We can now all move very quickly to get products and services out to a market place.
It’s also quite likely to be the first decade where our parents were better off than us, and they are still being allowed to take from the system, with great pensions and record low energy prices and they had the chance to purchase homes at three or four times salary instead of ten times, they [our parents] seem to have had it all.
Most people in their twenties will now never get on the property ladder in the UK. Things are changing. Big chunks of the property market are controlled by the few with money for Buy to Let.
It’s all about Art.
It is art that will change things for you and me, money is an art, it allows leverage. Things have to change. Governments are not in charge, the Central banks are and they don’t know what to do in order to make things better. This millennium has changed everything.
You and I need to think differently in order to survive it.
Some of the things you’ll read in this book will force you to ask a question and it’s this.
If this is so simple why is everyone not doing it?
And that really is the wrong question.
The right question you need to ask is why are you not doing it?
I am a street kid, a North London lad, born into a family that lived on benefits and struggled with lot’s of problems, mainly around money.
There was never enough.
Divorced parents, four kids. Hand me downs. Hiding from the Rent Man and the Tally Lady. Her name was Mrs Bonus, if we needed shoes, they came from her, delivered on Friday, and paid over the coming months. I was not the only one, there were plenty of us that lived through real austerity and tough times, financially and emotionally.
Some of my first memories involved hauling a pressure cooker full of stew from a friends house (Perry, he’s a London Copper now) onto a shopping trolley and dragging it to mine, so we could eat. The 60’s in Winchmore Hill (N21) was not full of the nice to have things. Often it was about basics, like food and keeping warm.
There were plenty of arguments about money “it doesn’t grow on trees” type conversations, you have heard them all; the same thing you will hear now in many family conversations up and down the country.
Growing up as teenager, attending a pretty ordinary comprehensive school, work was not easy to find. Is it easier now? Then as is now, skills determined how far you were going to go. You needed to be able to do things in order to survive, knowing things was for others. Doing stuff was important for all street kids. If you could do, you’d survive.
I had my first Window Cleaning round at thirteen. We don’t even let eighteen year olds up ladders now without full training and a range of ‘elf and safety’ appliances.
Early adult life has changed much; the days when you could buy a flat and live a life on a single wage; you know run a car and have a few pints on a Friday seem to have long gone.
That was my life, it seems oh so simple now.
Money is freedom. Not money for money’s sake, just enough to keep the man off your back and to enjoy your life – that’s freedom.
In later life ended up as a financial adviser, I was a man from the Pru from 1988. Helping others make the most of what they had. Sure it was about selling insurances, door to door. Something that the industry belly laughs about today. How quaint.
But, the man from the Pru helped hundreds of thousands of people make the most of what little they had. For those of you living in and around Kentish Town (NW5) may well have met me. I was one helping those that didn’t or couldn’t make the most of what they had.
I have also walked the streets of Kings Cross London at three in the morning, helping drugged kids get their lives back and at the same time manned a helpline, talking to parents that have found “white powder under the bed” and wanted to know what to do.
Today we have some bigger problems to solve. Speak to anyone for more than twenty minutes and you’ll hear tales of woe, and it normally gets quickly back to money, lack of it, debt and the associated problems that come with it.
Why is that?
There are several reasons, too many people lack a basic money understanding and we have not yet evolved as a species to be able to handle money – pensions weren’t really around until the 1930’s and, this is a big one, we are naturally (and fatally) optimistic about money – we think it will get better, we think things will just get better.
And they don’t, well not on their own.
This ‘blue sky thinking’ that things will get better has a fundamental flaw in it. Newton’s law of motion.
“The First Law – an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.” Newton.
Quite simply this means if nothing is done, nothing changes.
Investing in the stock market, building a business are all seen as ‘to complicated’ or people claim that ‘I just don’t understand’, these are things that for reasons of education, knowledge or just plain laziness many people seem unable to grasp, and that’s a real shame, so I have set out to simplify and educate.
After thirty odd years in financial services my life took a turn. I had three years of illness (mine and that of my wife) and it came close to wiping me out.
Fact is, my plan was just about the worst I could have, in fact broadly similar to most of you, because the plan is the same one that the industry supports and trains it’s professionals in – I have been trained by them and ended up with what ‘they’ thought was best.
Basically it’s a shit plan.
For most of us, stop work, the money stops, debt still needs servicing, pensions not fit for purpose (and now seemingly of even less use) and hungry mouths to feed if you have children.
I can guarantee the plan you have in place will not work for you, at worst and at best needs some tweaking. A plan you can tweak is a good plan. Finding out quickly what doesn’t work and then changing it a good thing.
Luckily for me I had some cash in the bank, money from the withdrawl from the business and equity in the house, but with no income and some debts along with a chunk of cash in pensions it wasn’t a train crash – well not then.
But this train was rolling along a track, at speed with no chance of stopping for the train that was in front. Direct from Four Weddings and a Funeral “ fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck.”
Skill wise I had been specialising in high end divorce mediation, had worked with some really wealthy people – and as you’d expect qualified to provide guidance and advice on pensions and investments, and had been supervising some really bright advisers. Yeah me, the kid who used to bring ‘stew home on a shopping trolley.’
I understood what good financial advice looked like and everyone I worked with agreed.
If the proverbial “shit hitting the fan” hadn’t come yet, it was coming soon. The Breast Cancer came and went, and then I ended up with a minor ear infection. Ended up as Labyrinthitis. What should have been a few weeks out of action turned into over a year, by the time the physiotherapy had finished (I couldn’t really stand properly) it was over two years of not working – can you hear the shit train rumbling in the distance, it was coming. I could hear it!
I had the fucking travel information sign hanging over my head letting me know just how long I had before the ‘shit train’ stopped at my station.
I was still writing for the Financial Trade Press, you can probably still find some of my writing on the various websites or archived in magazines – don’t bother reading them, they were of their time and not really relevant for today.
Having time not working forces you (and me) to look at life differently. I had started to look at what was working, how new products and the internet would change things and have spent the last few years looking at these changes, blogging about it and generally taking the piss out the industry I used to be part of.
MoneyTrainers was born in order to teach you about these changes.
Importantly it’s a wake up, because we are all facing several challenges.
House prices and debt seem to be just upwards in a never ending race to the top. Student debt now leaves most graduates over £50k in debt by the time they leave Uni. And then there is the lack of high quality guidance in the market place, things are changing fast and the powers that be are still at least twenty years behind, and still focused on managing not growing a pot of money.
The various regulators and online guidance offers that are available are also not fit for purpose.
If you pop over to https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/ and search ‘pension charges’, you’ll be shocked to know that is it doesn’t tell you any of this:-
With most pension contracts over half of your investment will be soaked up in charges over a thirty year period.
You can move your pension to another low cost provider, here is a list of them.
Pop over to https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/ You can’t search the site, but there is not a single menu item that mentions – pension charges which is the one thing that will have the the biggest impact on your retirement.
I wondered and thought, and then decided that the financial services industry was working in collusion with these Government organisations to ensure you – the consumer couldn’t find out the truth.
Couldn’t find the answers.
Now I might be completely wrong on that point, but – the hard evidence seems to support collusion over the truth.
Funny, but if you wanted investment advice or how to start a business advice you wouldn’t normally consider going to a Government department – these are full of people with nice pension schemes, and pretty good secure incomes, and are funded out of income tax.
Not the kind of person one would expect to know about financial independence, and making the most of the cash you have. Fact is they don’t, they have a vested interest in the status quo, in staying the same and are just about useless.
If you have ever been to a slimming club in order to lose weight or AA to stop drinking. My Moneytrainers project (this book) is the money equivalent of them.
I use a technique of Masterminding (both online and off) so that everyone, no matter their level of skills and knowledge gets access to all of the information and support they need. Enabling them to build and dramatically improve their finances (lives). Trust me, money is the one thing that will dramatically change your life, learning how it works, how to manage it, make it and leverage it will allow you plenty of time freedom eventually – which is a good thing.
Accept this as a wake up call, to wake you up from your sleep. To let you know that it is possible to create a life for you – well a life of financial freedom if you want it .
I don’t care much about how you live the rest of your life (internet porn, drugs, drink, whatever). Just know this, knowing how to make money work for you will improve most areas of your life. Fact, with more money you can watch more porn, take more drugs. It’s a win win.
The financial industry is in place to do one thing – earn a profit for the business. Nothing else, everything is geared up to take money from you with no guaranteed results. Sounds harsh, the truth often is.
Years of financial regulation has not stopped the mis-selling or bad advice, and nor will it stop it in the future. The regulators are only interested in regulating.
The evidence for this all around, when I first started writing this chapter in October 2016 the Government is starting to think about making changes to pensions, in particular to pension charges. I first blogged about this ten years ago and the problem was there long before that.
Let me be honest with you, the truth about money and about creating wealth is something the industry doesn’t want you to know. If it did you’d know it by now. All you need do it pop over to a website, pick up a brochure and that’s, it follow what you have read. We’d all be richer than God (as an aside I have met God, he’s a divorce barrister in London).
If you are anything like me, who has struggled with your own financial position you need to know this. Financial Advice, Financial Advisers et al are not what you need.
You need to know and learn how to create wealth, how to make money, how to make your money work for it’s keep. Financial advisers can only help you when you have it, and in the main do a pretty crap job at it.
That’s why the industry has contracted so much in recent years. The secret is out. The financial advice model hasn’t really changed much in forty years and is plainly broken. The only way out of where you are now is to change how you use money, how you act around money and how you put it to work for you. Wealth generation, not wealth management.
Here are three quotes I have learned the most from.
“What you don’t know, you don’t know”
“If you always do the things you have always done you will always get the things you have always got”. Henry Ford
“Look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite”
No one cares more about your personal finances than you. You owe it to yourself to get savvy around money, to learn what really works.
Ready for a short journey?
Actually the number of people who are going on a journey of financial bliss is increasing and it needs to. The level of state support is dwindling, pensions are becoming increasingly expensive (especially if you want a guarantee on them) and then there is pressure on wages, and upward pressure on house prices.
The systems designed in the 1930’s for a population then, now none of them are fit for purpose. If only we can get the Government to see that, things may start to change. Perhaps if you can start on some of this financial independence stuff you’ll be able to join me in taking on Government to get these changes made.
Most MP’s cringe in despair as soon as you start to question the facts behind their policy – but questioned they must, and called out when in the wrong.
The thinking and actions that got you and I here are not the same actions we need moving forward.
Most people who use financial advisers already have money. Advisers are just about useless in terms of helping you make it and grow it – indeed this is not a profession that is entrepreneurial indeed the opposite is true. It’s self interested and heartily looked after by Government and Regulators. Having been inside it for nearly thirty years I know.
There is only one major independent financial adviser in the UK, tells you all you need to know about how entrepreneurial the industry is.
But let’s be honest, if all you needed to do in order to become wealthy (or even filthy rich) was to sit down in front of financial adviser once a year and listen to what they tell you. We’d all be doing it.
These people would be Gods (remember he is a Barrister in London – Divorce) like on the high street and we’d all be rich.
The formula would be uncovered – not saying that the MoneyTrainers formula will make you rich – it will show you how you become financially independent. I am saying that the MoneyTrainers formula will work because it’s based around principles and not tactics.
Financial Advisers, Banks and Wealth Managers
Now, don’t take this a slight on them personally. Their kids need to eat.
Traditionally, when a person or business wanted information on financial matters we relied on Financial Advisers. In 2018 it seems that this model is very broken.
They are business owners that happen to sell financial products, and provide advice. The problem arises when you look at what they actually do, nearly all are just ‘managers of other people’s’ money’ not ‘creators of money’ and many are pretty bad at it.
And if it’s not them, then the underlying investments they recommend soon start to let you down. Facts are that most investment funds don’t perform that well when compared with the alternatives and you factor in administration fees and charges. You may have noticed that it’s very hard to make money from many of these arrangements, you’d be far better off doing something else with your hard earned.
This report from the UK Financial Services Regulator (The FCA) outlines some of the problems. This is not a new thing, it’s one that has been around for a long time, you can read more about it here
Just Find Yourself An Adviser – Then Do What He (or she) Says!
If only it was that easy, everyone of us would be rollin’ in it by now. Five minutes in front of an adviser, get a little plan together and off you go.
It’s never been that easy, and much of the industry is too busy lining it’s own pockets all supported by the various regulators that are all funded by a levy on the industry.
If you applied normal consumer protection rules to investment providers and financial advisers most would have been prosecuted out of existence by now.
There is a vested interest in keeping things broadly the same. It’s the same over at Ofgem, the people that regulate the gas and electricity supply firms – every now and again they stamp their feet and fine a few firms, but in the main not much changes from year to year. Every consumer is charged more than the rate they should be and every year the firms selling the energy get away with it.
The financial industry does provide some fund management performance figures. Pop over to https://www.trustnet.com/ have look at pension funds (all) then arrange them in ‘five year performance’ order. Today there are 8221 funds. The best performing fund would have returned 281% over the last five years (your money would nearly have trebled) put £1 in and got back £2.81 (net of fund but not product/adviser charges).
If you move on further down the list you’ll see that some 4110 funds did not perform any where near as good. With the average investment returns at 47.2% (still pretty good), but that means you could well have ended up placing your hard earned money in one of 4110 pension funds that did not ‘beat the average’.
Importantly the performance of the FTSE 100 index would have returned some 53.7% over roughly the same period, you can invest in this without the costs of an expensive fund manager/adviser etc.
By seeking advice you are hoping that
The adviser knows more than the markets
The fund manager knows more than the markets
Both of these will prove expensive for you, simply because so few investments have beaten the markets with any consistency.
Very few manage to beat the market.
Advisers Are Not Wealth Creators.
Investment and pension fund performance is in the main a lot less than expected, advisers are bound by the regulators rules, which means interesting investment options are left from their recommendations in the main.
Few advisers recommended very low cost Exchange Traded Funds or Peer to Peer lenders (as an investment), not many understand fully Asset Allocation (not putting all of your eggs into one basket). Let’s not get bogged down in the details for now though, and I am not saying that any of these are better or worse for growing your pot. What I am saying is that all of these need to be in the mix for consideration.
Shamefully the commission model still exists, but in a different guise. There are few genuinely fee only based advisers in the marketplace, and the rule of thumb is that if you feel you need advice and the fee seems high, you probably don’t need the advice in the first place (I just wish I had come up with that). It was Paul Lewis from Moneybox (Radio 4), now there is a man who understands.
Financial advisers do have special exemptions under VAT rules, they strip money from your pensions and investments that are at best hidden under various charging smokescreens and these work against you massively.
And pensions (or pension charges) have made many of the large organisations richer than God (well close, he’s a divorce barrister in London).
These organisations are supported by the Government and the regulators and they stay in place via Lobbying.
The new pensions freedoms announced not so long ago have just introduced more pensions. A lovely little gift to the industry by Mr Osborne.
Financial education is still not delivered in schools, why? Probably for the same reason we don’t hear the truth about Alternative Medicine or the same reason the European Union Financial Accounts have not been adding up for many years. Someone or something wants to protect the status quo.
I don’t want to get all ‘conspiracy theory’ on you – but when you start to look at some of these things, it does beg the question. Why?
By sticking to some very basic but powerful rules your long term future is assured, without an adviser. No matter what happens to your investments, to the markets you will always win if you have a spread of investments (Asset Allocation). You will have invested when the price was right, will still get the income from the investment no matter how low it’s value falls, will be paying the lowest amount possible for product and investment charges.
It’s not complicated.
I have never been able to work out why organisations like the Money Advice Service nor the various financial regulators have not laid out these fundamentals.
Growing a portfolio of investments, property, race horses – just about anything will succeed if you follow the steps. Whilst I don’t want to start a rant about the regulators again there is a reason they don’t share this kind of information and it’s this.
The regulators are paid for by a levy on the industry, and on advisers. What they want is more regulation – of course they pay some ‘lip service’ to consumers – but all they can do is regulate, they are not qualified to do anything else.
Regulation is proven not to serve consumers that well. We still have things going wrong, with pension scams and other problems (with review after review). Recent mis-selling of pension transfer advice (British Steel) shows that the regulator is ineffective and has confirmed that at least half of all pension transfer advice was not in the best interest of the consumer – remember this is after some thirty years of regulation.
It’s also been proven that they are not very good and preventing bad advice, mis selling, theft or a range of other bad things that have happened to consumers. Just about every high street bank or building society has been fined or sanctioned by the regulator, are these people you should really trust. Your decision.
In recent years we have seen many advisers increasing fees substantially or refusing to deal with clients that have less than £100k available (some even higher), often blaming the regulator or just the costs of doing business.
Reality – the whole advice business is in disarray. It hasn’t changed in thirty years and the industry thinks it can keep on doing the same thing.
It’s for all of the above that you need to understand how this whole money thing works.
Creating Wealth For You.
I shouldn’t really start to talk about wealth without covering some of the mindset stuff. It could be said that wealth is a head game first, get that right and money will surely follow. Which is half right, if your inner head game is right and you take some action then money has no choice but to start to flow towards you. It sounds so simple when I say it like that, doesn’t it.
One of the biggest issues around financial independence is quite a simple one – it’s action, or the lack of action that holds most people back. Action starts with the right head game.
No matter what happens to you financially, you will still see night and day in the same way that a millionaire would, a bird flying, a pretty flower. We all see things the same. But doing so, in an unworried about money way makes everything more enjoyable. It gives you a choice, allows you freedom to smell the roses, to soak up the sounds.
Most of this money stuff is about learning new things (maybe even unlearning a few things) and then doing what you know. You won’t need to be the brightest or sharpest tool in the box, indeed being one of the most intelligent people on the planet could be a hindrance.
Let’s consider for a moment – University Lecturers (I have myself lectured at Barnet Uni, so know a couple of these), intelligent people yes. Wealthy, hardly.
Other businesses owners I have met, multi millionaires. Intelligent? Well no, not always. Able to get on and do stuff, able to find things out – of course. In fact I have probably met more very wealthy people who are not the brightest and best. To me that proves it is about principles and not intelligence – there are a small number of basic principles that make the difference to you becoming wealthy – independent financially or staying poor.
All you need do is find out what works, understand the principles and then take action.
The Moneytrainers approach is to consider the principles to money – the things that have been done year in, year out. Since time began kinda thing. Once you know what these you’ll start to notice them – and when you notice them, then apply you’ll start to see more and more ways of making them work.
Paying Yourself First
This is not a new concept, in fact it’s been around for many years and if used will work well for you. It’s one of those ‘do it’ and be saved things. If you want to guarantee financial security at some point in your life, just do this.
Paying yourself first means taking a small amount of salary or pay, or profit from any source and earmarking that for you, move it to a seperate pot as soon as it comes in.
Sounds easy, right.
Creating separate pots of money works, segmenting your current resources into several parts, each one directed towards a common purpose just makes sense. I like to keep these simple so suggest three pots initially. Rainy Day, Slush and Long Term.
I’ll go into details a bit later.
Question is this, how do you build up the pots in the first place? Well you start by paying yourself first and you do it like this.
Looking down your bank statement you’ll see all kinds of entries. Rent or mortgage, heat and light, car, fuel, insurances. The list probably seems endless.
All of these things are money leaving you. The concept of paying yourself is this, at least once per month, ideally a standing order payment made on payday. You take at least five percent of your income and you reserve this for yourself in a separate account. Ideally it should be ten percent, but if you start with five and let it become a habit, you should find it really easy.
This small amount of cash will soon start to add up to something you can use. It will be your money and used to secure your future. But look, if you are not able to earmark ten or even five percent – if you are cash strapped then we need a slightly different plan. See my chapter on the subject.
Pay yourself first is a wealth trick and guarantees you have something to show for the work you do. Pay yourself first and eventually the world will become a far more financially safe place for you.
Is this easy to do? Of course it’s not, you need to make a plan and be disciplined not to spend it. Not spending it is the key. Of course there is always a trade off between buying and owning stuff now or owning and buying a lot more stuff later on.
To make it easier it just needs to be habit, one less round in the pub on Saturday, one more hour comparing your expenses so you can reduce your costs, pack up the cigarettes, spend less on clothing. Each one of these things adds up to small fortune over a lifetime. When you read the chapter called Alison Average you’ll see what happens over the long term.
Pay yourself first, you deserve it.
Fuck The Lottery.
Don’t put your faith in a machine that spins balls if you want true wealth.
There is now a one in forty five million chance of you winning the National Lottery. The average spend on tickets is £150 per year, with the average return of .95p for every £2 invested. If you include scratchcards and the like, every man, woman and child in the UK spends £450 per year.
This is money that these people will never get back, it’s money that is lost forever. Of course that tantalising thought of many millions to spend on stuff is what keeps many going however at odds of 45 million to 1. It’s a swerve as a money making idea.
If you live to be an average age of 79, you’ll live for 4108 weeks, spend £2.00 per week on Lotto and you’ll invest £8216 which guarantees you a loss of around £4300 over your lifetime.
However if you invested £150 per year with MoneyTrainers, I guarantee it to be worth at least ten times that in the first year. What I am trying to say is this, you don’t need to be hyper intelligent in order to become financial independent and on your terms, nor should you do the Lottery. It’s proven not to work.
Note where possible I’ve used figures that are the last available. The National Lottery figures are from 2016/17.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said to myself, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now, and I could spend the rest of my life as a champion.” Muhammad Ali
I’d say ‘I hated being poor, but by putting a little aside today, by making MY money work hard for me, I soon started to move forward.’
This money thing is not even about suffering, it’s about deferring your want to have something today in return for quite a lot more tomorrow. It’s based on a simple premise. Every pound you spend or waste is lost forever. By making sure you save your pound, keep control of it – you can make it work for you forever. Once you have not spent some of your pounds you can make them work for you, multiplying and growing.
Get a grip on some of these timeless principles of money now, soak them up and you could end up spending the rest of your life never having to worry about money again, and live your life as a champion.
If you are currently short of the cash you need or you can’t see a bright and exciting financial future that’s ok. Honestly, we all start the journey like this. All you need to realise is that as far as money is concerned you weren’t that good with it. But as of now that’s all changed, your money future is not your money past. No matter how bad.
And that my friend is OK. Most of us are pretty crap at it which is why this little book was born.
It’s my attempt to show you that most of what you have been told about becoming wealthy is rubbish, how the employers, industry and regulation conspire to keep you in your place – Just Over Broke (JOB) and how you can change things.
Little changes will produce big results. I have been on both ends of the money thing twice now, up and down up and down. I get it. I know how it works, I fuckin’ lived it. You will too.
A Little Exercise.
Ask your friends how they are doing, in particular with their finances.
Note down what they say, probably best if you don’t identify them.
What is their relationship with money like?
Do they have enough money most months?
Have they ever had any formal money education?
Ask as many of your friends as you can. Personally I know you will find a lot of very similar answers, in that few really enjoy the money stuff, few have enough and even fewer would have received any formal education in relation to their money.
No formal education on the one subject that is likely to have the biggest impact on their lives – that’s mad.
Of course they will all tell you they could do with more, but they’ll also tell you that for much of their lives, they have never had enough.
By starting with a money education you’ll soon start to improve the other two.
Nearly all of us have too much month at the end of our money. Yours will be very much the same, your friends would love to do x or y, but don’t have the cash, maybe next month. Maybe next year, maybe never!
Go and ask them their views on money, on getting it and holding on to it. Most of the views you’ll hear will be similar or the same as yours. Flawed.
Most people believe that money is hard to get hold of or is evil in some way. Both of these things are false. You can’t live without it – anywhere in the world. It really is just a portable way of distributing value, and now travels at the speed of light, it’s a series of 1’s and o’s in a digital economy.
And things don’t get better on their own. Have you ever tried to lose weight, exercise more, learn to walk, drive or any other skill you can think of. You’ll know that sending a prayer and hope someone hears, and then skills or howto’s (and money) comes gushing towards in a big fat hurry.
It doesn’t happen like that, not to you or anyone else. Oh, yeah, that voice in your head is now starting to throw up‘ “what about lottery winners and all of the other instant cash generators.”
Good luck with that nearly all don’t win. It’s a poor man’s game. It’s not even a game of chance, it’s geared against you. It’s a business that is designed to extract a profit from you. Same as betting on sports, horses, snow at Christmas. They are all hedged against you making money in the long term.
If you consider the UK National Lottery on it’s own you’ll know that half of your stake goes back into prize money, the rest goes in profits to Camelot, stealth taxes and other costs. It’s never going to profitable for you as investor.
The UK’s largest bookmaker – Paddy Power made profits of £437 in the year ending 2017. It’s turnover was some £1.73b. This means it accepted bets worth £7.43 for every man woman and child in the UK. It made profits of £27.43% on these bets. For every £7.43 it takes through the door in bets it keeps £2 and returns the rest. Each £7.43 in returns £5.40 odd. There is no reason to invest in betting as a long term strategy.
If you really want to put your faith into a couple of machines that churn balls three times every week you are more naïve than you think and this valuable information is really not for you. If you paid for it, send it back for a full refund. If you didn’t then pass it on to someone who is not living in La La land where Unicorns splash in Lemonade rivers and money grows on trees, the sun always shines. Same applies to betting – you can never make them pay.
There is never going to be a turn key or press button option to making money or making your money work for you.
This really is the practical optimists (realist) guide to getting all of the cash you want, in the long term. With you understanding that there is no quick fix, no push button solution.
Put your cynicism to one side and let me explain what I have learned over the last thirty years or so, importantly to let me outline what has changed in the last five years. It’s the last five years that have been the catalyst for this book. Things have been changing so quickly, especially in the world of finance and investing, it is time for new thinking based on old principles, in fact not just old but probably ancient.
It amazes me that despite millions of books being published every year around the world and the fact that the internet produces many billions of pages of text every year – there are still some best selling books that have been around for several thousand years, and they still continue to sell. These books, known as Pre- Guttenburg (he invented the very first printing press) contain a long list of reading material that is still in print and still heavily read.
The reason, much of the information, guidance and advice is still very relevant today. Principles, like humans take a long time to evolve and last for many years.
Money has always been amazing, not just for it’s own sake – but because of the freedom it brings- and the principles around money are equally amazing.
Getting you and I to the point where financially it doesn’t matter what Government policy is introduced, no matter what happens to the economy either locally or globally and to make us protected from whatever happens in the job market is my clear aim.
It is about creating the financial life we all deserve and can attain quite quickly. The idea is to make your personal finances bullet proof and know what to do next.
That means interest rates can go up or stay down, your employer could make you redundant and house prices could plummet – your personal financial situation will remain calm and expectant.
By quickly I don’t mean minutes or days. You can start today, but you won’t achieve it today. Anyone that makes a promise of making you rich or wealthy overnight is making a fool out of you. Simple.
Financial security is something that is learned and adapted to and not just acquired. The reason most lottery winners don’t hold on to their money (fact) is because they think and act like this thing called financial security is a one off event – it’s not. You have to learn about money if you are to manage it, rather than it managing you.
Congratulations for making it this far. Let’s make your personal finances bullet proof.
Let’s change your mind and you’ll change everything.
“Small shifts in your thinking, and small changes in your energy, can lead to massive alterations of your end result”. Kevin Michel.
You are about to start on a very interesting journey, and the journey is important because like all journeys things are tested and adapted as we go along.
Achieving FI – Financial Independence is possible within a working lifetime; so come on a journey with me, let me give you some proven help to do just that.
I have another little exercise for you. I use it a lot in workshops and everyone has found it interesting.
Get yourself in a quiet place, think about this. You have just added up your total net worth, realised you have no debt, substantial assets and income from these assets that is continuing to come it. It’s untouched, your bank balance keeps on growing without you doing anything.
Think for a minute, how does that feel? What plans are you making for your future, places you want to visit, things you want to experience with your kids and your partner? How will you support your favourite causes, charities?
Imagine the cash and assets you have now are as big as a Lottery win, how does that make you feel? Bit of a buzz, excited?
Averages Are Important – Go Have An Average Day
If I said to you now “ go and have an average day” what would that mean to you?
Let’s suppose it meant you could have all of the following
Average levels of happiness
Average levels of income
Average levels of spending
It might seem boring, but being average means you are doing better than half of the people you meet, half of your family, half of the people you work with.
Of course the aspirational types will do their best to convince you…
… Set big massive goals, shoot for the stars, stretch out to the moon.
And all of that is very good, and you should. Just not yet.
See, this whole goal setting and money thing is a stretch for you and me. Convincing that voice in your head to push that far can be an issue. However using the law of averages to work in your favour is helpful.
Average wages in the UK as I write (Dec 2016) £27,600, average investment returns from pension funds over the past ten years* around 4.5%. Average UK savings (per person) around £1000 (source This Is Money).
Doing average is not a bad goal to start of with.
Having an initial PWT (personal wealth target) of average, it’s a great starting point. If you then do the MTW (money trainers work) and reduce your expenses/spending you’ll soon be moving to above average with regards to your personal wealth. Interesting eh!
Once average is obtained we can now start reaching for that moon. According to a number of sources those earning over £43,000 (where the higher rate of income tax starts) there are around 15% of taxpayers who make this increased payment. This is a great place to be especially if you can manage to become a higher rate taxpayer, but without increasing the hours you work.
If average seems like a reasonable target to start with, I can assure you it’s very achievable.
Achieving average as a starting point is easy if you start with these three simple steps.
Invest – time and money into obtaining knowledge and learning systems
Consume – the knowledge and understand it.
Act – start to use the the knowledge you now have. Use the systems.
I’m not sure how much easier I could make it.
It’s important to do it in this order because it saves time. There is no point in taking action if you don’t understand things or have the knowledge your need. Can you imagine learning how to drive a car, but starting with reversing or parallel parking. You’d waste a lot of time.
So you start with learning how to start the engine, clutch control, how to stop, moving forward. And only then do you get to learn how to, reverse, parallel park and all of the other complicated maneuvers.
Time – how much do we have left?
None of us know how long we have left, death can be a surprise. Only we all know that death does arrive at some point. We just don’t know when. And we know that of all the gifts we have, time is most precious.
Therefore learning shortcuts to financial independence is time well spent.
Welcome to the journey.
This FI thing really is possible.
Just having £500 spare, not having any credit card debts, having enough income to cover your expenses and being able to manage your finances is a start. You will have to change your relationship with money, to treat it like the resource it is. It’s not money it’s
F R E E D O M.
Janice Joplin sang “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose” She was so wrong, freedom is having cash in the bank and your money working hard. Freedom is knowing how to generate cash when you need it, freedom is not having ‘the man on your neck at the office every day’. Freedom is knowing that you don’t have to buy the thing that is staring you in the face, giving up your hard earned for something that won’t last and won’t help you long term.
Let’s get going.
In order to make this whole make money thing a bit easier, I have laid out below the five things that you absolutely must do in order to secure your long term financial position.
These are the principles you should learn, stick to and apply every time you are thinking about your money. At least you should be mindful of them every time you are considering spending or investing money.
1. Spend less than you earn and invest the rest. Treat money as the valuable resource that it is. Never buy anything now if there is even the slightest expectation that it may be cheaper in a few days or months.
Learn how to leverage automated information
2. Invest in real assets – things that are likely to go up in value, or at least there is the expectation that it will go up in value.
3. Invest for income, interest or dividends.
4. Make sure you invest at the lowest possible cost and with the most tax efficiency, noting that pensions are not tax efficient.
5. Learn to trade, trade your skills, knowledge and the markets.
6. Leverage everything you can.
Tactics come and go, but timeless principles remain the same.
Here are a further nine additional tactics you should use, combined with the above.
1. Invest in your education
2. Take a longer term view than you think you should
3. Start now. Research. Test everything so you understand as much as you can
4. Invest for income, in income funds in products that pay an income
5. Allocate your assets, Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
6. Use modern investment products not old style high charge funds with ‘managers’
7. Buy cheap – apply that to investing and spending Invest on the dips and at no other time
8. Invest efficiently using an online platform/package/broker. Pay as little as possible in charges
9. Be aware of taxes and tax efficiency – never make investment decisions for tax reasons alone
Observe what everyone else is doing and do the opposite:
The masses, spend what they don’t have, on stuff they don’t need and don’t look to reduce costs, most don’t look to see what they can take advantage of. E.g Mindful shopping with a list.
If you go shopping without a list – no plan. You automatically become part of someone else’s plan, in this case the supermarkets plan. Don’t think they are wasting their money on internal marketing and psychological tools to make sure you spend more.
With this short list of things, applied correctly your financial well being will start to change very quickly.
Leverage – How To Make This Work For You.
From memory, it was Archimedes who first worked out that if you had a big enough lever you could move the earth. And we all understand that moving something very heavy is easier if you put a really long pole behind it. Leverage is something that all very wealthy people understand, and it can work for you.
In fact I’d go as a far to say that if you are to become financially independent than you have no choice but to use this one tool, to make it work in your favour.
You must learn how to leverage. Leverage, everything.
Understanding this simple idea is life changing. Leverage means doing things once and getting paid for a lifetime – creating things like books and novels. It also means making time work in your favour – imagine your personal life being run like a business. With you as senior manager, focusing on bigger picture things and your staff, solving day to day problems.
Leverage means you can achieve a lot with a little.
Leverage gives you incredible power to get things done, leverage the internet to get information and make contact with others, to sell or persuade. Use others to do things for you via the internet and local groups – there is no point in you cleaning your car, giving up a possible £50 – £100 per hour of earned income – when you can get it cleaned for £15!
Even spending time on your network, your friend and contacts is a very valuable use of your time. Let me explain.
Recessions come and go, friends come and go. Business connections come and go. We accept that as given, people pass through our lives.
But, during boom times some people are doing better than others, During recessions and bad times others are doing better than some others. The larger your network of people, the more chance you’ll be connected to someone who is doing better than you. Having a connection with them is very valuable leverage.
I’m not saying you should be a fickle friend, or a fairweather friend. But you should take the time to connect with others, add value. Learn to be a maven. A maven is a special thing, to be a connected maven is even better.
A maven (also mavin) is a trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. The word maven comes from Hebrew, meaning “one who understands”, based on an accumulation of knowledge. Source Wikipedia
Car cleaning is only one way of using leverage, having your washing done, allowing Uber to collect the kids from school, having food delivered – think of the repair costs you’ll save – every time I shop at Tesco’s I end up with damage to the car and spend more on ‘impulse buys’.
There are loads of ways to use leverage – it’s simple to implement and it works. It’s similar in process to “outsourcing”, where businesses sell an item of high value, yet it’s manufactured in an area of low cost – think Apple, Primark and a few others. With the modern online tools, it’s possible for us all do these things.
Be careful with some of these outsourced things. Apple products are not made in the USA but assembled in China based on components made worldwide- the biggest of these is Germany, because it has good engineering capacity and is famous for its quality. Outsourcing doesn’t always mean cheap. In the case of Apple it means quality.
Leverage For The Time Strapped.
I wanted to reduce some of my monthly spend. Having identified home gas and electricity prices as a possible area of saving – going through the various websites is tiresome, and I would rather spend some quality time with my wife. So I appointed a virtual assistant who charged me £5 for thirty minutes of their time. He done the whole lot for me, compared, checked and moved the thing forward. All I had to do was click on a link in an email.
The saving, £430 over the coming twelve months. Investment £5 return £430. The good news is you can apply this to many areas of your personal finances. Think insurances (home and car) think your mortgage or credit card debts.
All of us only have so much time to live and enjoy life, some of this is taken up with working, sleeping and eating. We don’t have time to do everything and we shouldn’t try.
Leverage is something that we all need to learn and an area that you must take action on. At the extreme end of this is the likes of Richard Koch – author of 80/20 who insists on working only one hour per day and is a multiple millionaire or Tim Ferris writer of the Four Hour Work Week. I don’t believe either of them work four hours a week or even one hour per day. But I’d put money on the fact they work less hours than you and I.
Both of these have possible solutions to the leverage/time management problem.
One great example of leverage is your own business – you put in time and effort, build systems and then allow the systems – managed by your staff to run the business.
Use Virtual Assistants (VA) to do things like comparing car insurance or electricity and gas comparisons, you could end up paying a VA five or ten pounds for one hour’s work, and save many hundreds of pounds over the coming year of so, you input £10 and get £200 back.
VA’s are available just about everywhere. Sites like Freelancer.com, Peopleperhour.com or even Fiverr.com. You’ll be surprised what you can get done for a small spend.
There are many options to use this kind of leverage.
By investing in a Tracker Fund you automatically get average performance of the tracked index without any daily management or input from you. You also get some of the lowest ongoing charges from any of the funds available, importantly no human input. Of course that means that you won’t benefit from any individual ‘great performances’ but you also don’t get any of their mistakes and fund managers make a lot of mistakes.
Even Better Than Any Old Tracker – Invest In A Tracker Fund That Produces Income.
You benefit from the potential growth in the fund and the regular income payments, paid automatically.
Leverage, invest once and get paid for as long as the investment remains.
By combining leverage with some of the other methods explained in this book you end up with a very powerful model to help you solve your financial independence challenge.
Using one of the many online investment platforms you can do all of this at a click of mouse, time saved and money saved.
Leverage like this is great way to grow your personal finances, provided you don’t have to touch your investments, and they continue to work for you – then this is the perfect model.
This kind of leverage may not seem important to you now, but over the long term having worry free investments that are automatically managed for you will save many hours of time and using this type of fund, will mean you pay substantially less in charges.
By selecting to have income paid which you can the reinvest you benefit from leverage, which as we have discussed is powerful. Small amounts of income over a long period end up becoming as massive amount of cash.
There is nothing complicated in this, nothing that you can’t do or learn to do.
It is possible for you outsource your life very simply, leaving you to focus on things you want to do, perhaps time with your kids or using the free time to think of new business ideas.
Observe The Masses – What Is It Everyone Else Is Doing?
I laughed a lot last year (2017) when the tabloid papers were running headlines on Bitcoin and the new digital currencies, of course there were TV programmes and many popular websites all talking about how simple these things really were and how people were becoming millionaires overnight – even stupid people could make this happen.
Of course we’ve seen the crash of that, and like any investment bubble those who wanted to sell when the market was crashing couldn’t find any buyers or of course couldn’t get the selling exchanges to work as expected.
There are several issues with this kind of investment.
Before you go any further forward. I happen to think that this technology is the way forward. Most of our money is electronic now so there will not be that much change. The key for me is waiting until the thing settles down, maybe a year or so. Or invest only with money you are happy to lose – betting money. As I say for the time being it’s more of a distraction.
Despite all of the above many people piled in. I was getting calls from eighty year old uncles with them asking to send some more information – bloody amazing.
Take a Look
Look around and see what’s really happening. Record levels of taxation – the Government’s only source of money, record levels of Council Tax, record short falls at the UK Treasury. No matter how much money the Government gets it wants more and raises taxes accordingly.
In fact there seems to be something wrong with both Government and personal finances – the more income increases the more everyone borrows in order to have more now, to do more now. But, eventually borrowing has to stop.
Much of the borrowed money is spent on stuff, stuff that goes down in value. In fact, things like clothing, cars and household goods are practically valueless once you have left the shop.
It’s the capitalist economy that just consumes everything in its path.
And then there are your friends, how much money do they have? This simple exercise – add up the value contained in the lives of the six people closest to you is often revealing. You don’t even need to do this by asking questions. Just looking at their lifestyle and things they do and say you can get a feel for how much they earn, how much they owe etc. Don’t judge, that’s not what this is about.
It’s just so you know. More often than not they are in the same boat as you financially speaking. We as humans tend to become the average of the people we spend most time with.
One secret to financial success is to look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite, most people work to live, don’t have any income producing assets (nor have they started to build income producing assets) and are therefore destined to work until they do get income producing assets, this is normally a pension. This starts to pay out when you are about seventy percent dead (towards the end of your life). Sure, it means you will get access to some deferred income (a pension) but it won’t help you live a life.
There is a massive increase in the use of prescription drugs in the over fifties – why is this? Obviously there are health problems. Do you think it’s caused by stress and it’s related conditions? Let me ask you. If you could improve your finances tenfold, do you think it’d reduce stress? Of course it would.
Most of the people you’ll meet have debt, loads of it. Most of their parents, are in the main poor or close to it. Having debts of £10 and savings of £10 does not make you financially independent – in fact the opposite is true. The interest on your debt will be far in excess of the income from your savings.
Do that maths with your pension contributions. Most personal pension type funds return less than *six percent every year (and that’s taxable on the bulk of the fund when you draw on it), most credit cards charge at least sixteen percent interest every year. Given the choice of saving into a pension or reducing your credit card bill is one rich trick.
However you do need to make sure you use the money diverted from pensions to repay debt.
*There is a caveat here. The pension industry has a habit of renaming funds and merging them in order to make their investment returns look better. Average pension fund performance is actually around eight percent per year over the last ten years. That said, there are many thousands of funds without history and or something wrong with the figures. That’s why I chose six percent.
Now that may not make sense to you, maybe even against common practice. As I mentioned, look at what the masses are doing and then do the opposite. If all we needed to do in order to become financially independent was sit down in front of an adviser and follow their plans – we’d all do it. Only…
For those of you thinking about becoming self employed or starting your own business – there is a good chance you will end up with a high stress piss poor job not the freedom you thought you were creating.
We now have a “gig” economy. Freelance and self employed are all scratching around for short term ‘gig employment’ – the dream of flexible working – when you want. It’s a myth.
Most self employed are all free ranging, mainly wandering around “free” just looking for more work and hoping they can find some.
Like chickens mindlessly scratching around in the hope of finding something worthwhile.
Few take the time to really build a proper business.They are probably not ever going to have a business, but with a few changes it’s possible to secure long term income streams and a viable future just by adding a couple of tweaks to existing services and products.
Don’t get confused with Self Employment and Entrepreneurship. They are very different, entrepreneurship means spending a few years in your underwear working stupid hours from home doing something most are not prepared to do in return for a lifetime of financial independence.
Entrepreneurs create systems and processes that can be done by someone else while you work on the business not in it.
Back to the masses. Let’s look at what most people do every day.
Get up, moan, drive to work, go through the day, spend money on lunch. Drive home, drop a few glasses of wine/beer/poison of choice, mindlessly watch the news/soaps/Facebook/Twitter. Go to bed, sleep. Repeat.
Most are downright miserable, complaining about how crap life is. Never thinking any further than a few beers at the weekend, ignoring their kids… You know what I mean.
Few, sit down carefully and consider what needs to change. They never look for anything good in their lives and wonder why N O T H I N G changes. I’ve done, we have done it.
Pink Floyd described it as “comfortably numb”
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
What if there is was a different way.
What if you could use your free time to do something positive for you, work out a way of changing things. Learning a new skill, a new language. Learning about how you brain works (meditation, mindfulness) having a run, bath, early night, creating some thinking time.
Here is an interesting exercise for you. Sit for a minute and think about your life.
Your reality, how is it?
Not enough money, rubbish family, job, neighbours all driving you mad. Then go and Google (Images) search for Aleppo or Holocaust. Take a minute to soak them up.
Then ask, is your life really as bad at that. These people can’t/couldn’t change a thing.
Stuck, miserable existences. Your life is not like that. You can change it, we live in a free country, free of bombs and freedom from lack of water, food. We are lucky. You are not a tree, you have legs and a mind – we can do epic shit.
We have options, immediate options.
It was Jim Rohn (one of my all time favourites) who said “If you don’t like how things are, change it!
You are not a tree, rooted to the spot. Hoping it will rain, shine, you don’t get climbed. We can move, adapt learn.
Even if you only spend an hour every day, learning about money, learning how it really works and then apply what you have learned. Adapt, alter and find out what will work for you.
Then have a run or a long walk (you can get about 80% of the good exercise you need just from walking). That gym membership looks wasted now.
That’s another £600 saved every year.
Get Some Attitude
You either think you can or you think you can’t and you are right. Henry Ford
Good words them, by working on your attitude and becoming more can do, even if you don’t get it immediately you’ll move forward. A positive attitude makes everything easier. Of course some days you’ll be rattled and negative. Life gets in the way. Acknowledge it, and focus on turning it around (Google Images ‘Aleppo’) – your life is not like that.
Nothing lasts forever, bad feelings don’t and you choose to keep bad feelings or let them go.
Look at your kids/grandkids/other people’s kids. They are naturally happy. It’s a natural state for us unless something causes us to feel unhappy. Change how you feel, change your attitude and everything changes.
Watch the news with a notepad and pen, write down the content. Listen to your head and heart, how it makes you feel. Then you’ll start to understand, at least in part why the masses behave like they do – they’re conditioned to feel like it. Remember it is not THE NEWS it’s some news.
The masses all look miserable, don’t be like the masses.
Another Little Life Hack
Nearly everyone you meet won’t do this. But the uber successful do.
Get yourself a little A5 book, make it a pretty one. Write in it every day, some thoughts, some things you want to do.You don’t know what’s on your mind until you write it down. Get it out.
Whatever is stressing you. Write it down, make a note of how you feel about it. And then make a note of what you need to change about it, and some options. Then go and have a shower, walk, dinner, snuggle with the kids/significant other.
Your brain will give you some respite from these thoughts once, you’ve written them down – it has no need to remind you every five minutes. You’ve created thinking time.
The neck top computer we all have is easily settled, but you do need to know how.
Write, review and amend.
Take the comments you have made and then take some action to solving them, it may be a phone call, updating your CV, saying no. But you will start to get clarity. Small actions change everything, writing things down immediately calms the mind.
Honestly it only bloody works.
Personally I don’t traditional goal setting works that well for many, but that’s not for here and today.
You should make a short term plan for your life, the next 12 months or maybe even 18 months but no longer.
Things you want, things you want to do, places to visit. Whilst you are writing them down, do it in pencil, rub them about. Think about them.
Don’t make it a massive list four or five things will do for now.
Write down one massive goal “to be CEO of Primark” or whatever you think you may want. To know you’ve arrived somewhere. When you have this thing then that’s it.
Chunk all of these down into three month periods. Your brain can’t cope with looking at much further than three months. Look at what you can do in the next three months to move towards a bigger picture, then break these down into weekly and daily actions.
Even if you do nothing towards these objectives or mini plans – you’ll only have wasted three months, instead of looking back over the year and realising that…
Every Sunday evening for about thirty minutes look at these three month goals, check to see if they are still valid, is this what you really want? Then, and this is the powerful part.
Create a weekly action plan. What would you need to do this week in order to move towards this bigger end game.
If it’s a car you want, order a brochure, arrange a test drive. If it’s a promotion, do you need more skills, what do you need to learn, do you need to connect or reach out to someone?
Perhaps even tell someone you want ‘that job’. It could be your finances or a need to start a ‘side’ business (recommended by the way) can you do ten minutes of research, see what the competition is doing? See what angles you have bring a different product or service to the market?
Once you have done this and you ‘wash, rinse and repeat’ things will start change. As if by magic things will start to come together after you’ve taken some action.
Not all at once but change is coming I guarantee it. All you need to do is your homework.
The masses wouldn’t dream of doing this. Too much like hard work. That’s why you need to do it. The reality is, it’s piss easy. Just do it. Make it habit (more on these to come).
The Benefit Of Being A Gazillionaire or Maybe Just Financially Independent
Don’t think that Branson, Gates or the other gazillionaires spend much time wondering if income tax is going to go up a penny in the pound on budget day. Or if fuel taxation is going to increase, or if house prices fall or rise by ten percent, or if the markets are up or down!
They don’t – their thought processes and they way they plan their lives and finances are very different.
Branson by his own admission is not the most educated guy on the planet. Formal education is not a requirement for financial success, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
Gates – dropped out of college to set up Microsoft.
Buffet – from an ordinary American family.
These are some of the richest people on the planet. Lucky? Well some would say that, however luck would indicate a lottery win or an inheritance yet none of these things happened to any of these men.
And, they are not the only ones. Plenty have done the same before them and after.
How Many People Have Achieved Millionaire/Billionaire Status Before You?
715,000 people in the UK are millionaires; ok some of this may be because of property prices. But one in five UK graduates end up having at least a million banked or in assets.
Worldwide there are over twelve million, millionaires and roughly 2300 billionaires of which 120 are British. So now you know that it’s actually achievable.
Just so you can get your head around the numbers one million seconds (time) is roughly twelve days and 1 billion seconds is 31.7 years. The difference is massive. Million seconds 12 days, billion seconds 31 years.
How Much Is A Billion? £1b is a serious amount of money.
You may never make millionaire status but just having ten or twenty grand spare would be handy I’m sure. Ten or twenty grand is achievable by just about all of you.
Here are some key truths about money, how to get it, how to grow it, how to leverage it so it works for you rather than you working for it.
Before you go on answer this question.
How much money do you think you will need to become financially independent?
When I ask this question in seminars and workshops I get a range of random answers.
Most responses are in the tens of millions, sometimes even billions; the fact is we need a lot less than we think we need. Let me put some facts on that.
To generate an income of around £21,187 (UK average wage after tax 2015/16) you will need a fund of around £430,000 or so (there are some variables within that), but actually if you do things in a slightly different way you can achieve this level of income on a lot less capital.
If you are earning an average income, you need to replace that with £81.48 per day in order to be able to stop working and enjoy the same level of income. That’s all £81.48 per day and if you can do this in a tax efficient manner – even better.
The truth is this, you could spend the next forty years of your working life doing things for someone else, working on their business or you could make a plan and start to live your life now, not wait until you are close to death in order to stop working.
By the way, I have no quick solutions to this. I do have solutions but they are ‘get rich slowly and surely’, allowing you to enjoy your life on the way and you need a lot less than you need.
Even with some simple online marketing tools and a bit of focus you should be able to bring in a forty of fifty pounds per day a very easily. I’ve met affiliates doing a lot more than this, sure takes a while to build up to it – but you can do it.
Financial independence (FI) – a massive goal on the face of it but very achievable.
Remember this, if you are no longer having to work full time and don’t have travel and other work costs you can actually get by on a lot less; think about your work costs and your season tickets, fuel and clothing etc.
Easily £3 – £4,000 per year, that said. If you wasn’t working you’d spend a bit more on hobbies, but you’d also have a lot more time to focus on money making things.
The information coming later – all about my imaginary friend Alison Average should wake you up to the truth about how much you earn in a lifetime and where it goes.
You are going to be a millionaire, well you will earn at least that over a lifetime; even if you are just plain average.
I want you to know that the amount of money you actually need is probably a lot less than you think you’ll need and becoming FI is actually achievable by you in your lifetime.
You may also think that getting hold of enough money to be FI is presently outside of your skills or knowledge (or even your own comfort zone) and that maybe the truth now.
That’s why I wrote this book, to explain and show you that it’s actually easier than you think.
Another simple exercise that often confounds people at my workshops, is the how much money has already passed through your hands exercise. It’s in an earlier part of this book, go do it now.
Remember – money is just a tool, it’s something that we all have to deal with and something that if used correctly will do good. Like any other tool it’ll need to used properly and maintained from time to time.
It will feed starving children or get you drunk in nightclub. It’s your choice as how to use it best. My recommendation is you use it to secure your future, to make it work hard. To provide you with a lifestyle of freedom and choice, rather than one of dependency on others.
Sure you may have to consider being less of a consumer which is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. It’s also good for the planet which is being fucked over at an alarming rate.
Financial freedom, is about knowing how to generate income, knowing how to manage money instead of it managing you. How many people do you know who worry and fret about money most of the time?
It’s about learning how to think and find out about money so that you can be free. It’s not about money for money’s sake, that would be boring!
Imaging being free of a boring job and free to live the life you want, free of controls relating to being somewhere at some time, the flexibility to holiday when you want. To take mini retirements whenever you want, every year if you like – and it’s never been so easy.
Having worked with many rich and financially independent people over the years I can assure the common answer they all give when asked about how they created wealth is this…
Make a plan and work hard, change the plan when required.
Eventually you end up wealthy. Maybe even rich.
This connected world we live in today has made many things possible, things that our parents could not imagine are now with us and working for us provided we choose to use them. Independence is now a choice.
Further, the evidence about the old ways of working and living are pointing towards more poverty and lower wages.
The days when there was job security and all you had to do was hang on in there until nearly dead, are long gone but if you want to wait until you are nearly dead in order to become free, free of the need to work then carry on as you are.
Things Are Changing Fast
Disruption is everywhere. It’s causing wages to be pushed down and house prices to increase. The things we used to rely on as ‘just so’ are disappearing rapidly, being replaced. Just look around at what is going on.
Most Governments (worldwide) are behind the times by about ten years, often putting their faith in regulation which just offloads the responsibility. However, most regulators don’t really care about protecting, just regulating.
Let’s just consider some recent events that have been entirely preventable if Government just focused on them.
The Housing crisis.
The Pension crisis
The NHS crisis
The Banking crisis
The Syria crisis
The Brexit crisis
Nearly all of these things were preventable, none of these suddenly appeared like a tsunami up the Thames, the warnings were in place well before the crisis occurred. Instead of dealing with these things Government fiddles with pet projects. Like Auto Enrolment for company pensions, Pension freedom, Lifetime Individual Savings Accounts, New Runway at Heathrow – one of the most built up parts of the UK, HS2 running through one of the most expensive parts of the country. Hoping the NHS will sort itself out.
The story of ‘fiddling while Rome burns’ seems more accurate than ever. Now, I don’t want to come over all negative and political; see all Governments are the same, self interested in their own thing – they are distracted once they get their seat/minister position/whatever. All of them seem to forget why they were elected. The evidence is all around.
The current and last Governments (Con/Lib-Con) watched as spending decreased in some areas as borrowing soared. It’s a bit like you and I spending a lot less but our debts increase. I am not pretending for one minute that running a country is same as running a personal or small business budget, but there are a good number of similarities.
If your future is going to be better than your past, then you must change. You must take responsibility or something will arrive to change it for you. Waiting is not an option.
Don’t remember who said this, but it’s true….
“You are either making your own plans or are part of someone else’s”
Changes In The Economy
Let’s consider some of these in more detail; automated tills in supermarkets, driverless cars, Air BNB, Amazon, EBay. The list goes on and on, not so long ago we were impressed with steam trains and diesel buses.
It’s now possible to generate electricity from wind and the sun, and we can contact everybody on the planet via the phone that is in our pockets.
If you are not sure about this disruption just ask any taxi driver about the impact of Uber. it is now possible for me and the wife to get a taxi into town for half the price it costs to get a bus. Now, that may be great for me. However it’s not particularly good if you are a taxi driver.
Those poor souls or having to work, insure and maintain their cars for less than the price of a bus fare.
These things will continue to change and you have a choice to accept them and use them as and when they arise or to deny they exist and hope it all goes back to the way it was. There is rarely any going back when these things change.
A Few Words About What’s Changed.
Here we are then, with the world’s largest taxi firm, “Uber, owning no cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. (bit of an issue with that after Cambridge Analytica).The world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock, and the world’s largest accommodation provider Airbnb, owns no property”. (There are several sources for this quote – I had originally took it from Techcrunch. Com – please let me know if there is a more accurate source).
Amazon the world’s largest direct to consumer retailer only makes a handful of products for itself; a Kindle and a Firestick, oh and thing that listens to your voice – Alexa.
Something big is going on here, and if you stop for one moment and consider…
Automation… it’s taking over; think automated tills at Tesco/Asda. Think driverless cars, lorries and trains where will all of those drivers find work? Online shopping – no need for checkout or warehouse staff.
Think about all of this for a moment.
Look around at your friends and people you work with, are they genuinely financially independent or do they just have a job (Just Over Broke)? Will they really have a job in the future. Will we really need Estate Agents when the virtual world arrives? Car sales people. It’s changing whether we like or not.
You can view all of these things negatively, or as opportunity. Personally I think somewhere in the middle is about right. Kind of one foot in the past, great customer service with a smile and the use of modern technology, modern tools.
Whoop whoop the future is looking great for the business or people that use this approach.
The other downsides are more interesting. Look at what the Governments are doing to state pensions, we are all living to long. The state is overrun with the costs of care for elderly and the NHS has no idea how to deal with it.
Offshore investment coming in has caused massive spikes in London house prices and in the main we have no idea who these people are. The Government is clueless in how to deal with it.
More people rent than own (I kind of dispute some of the figures, but we know that renting is now the norm for at least half of us), yet for years we have not built enough homes.
If you are waiting for the Government (this Government to bring some change you’ll have a long wait) no matter how unfair you think it is – no one is about to wake up and start doing anything any different any time soon.
The evidence is all around, tax breaks for home buyers but not for renters. Easier lending for Buy to Let investors and harsher terms for conventional borrowers.
Change is coming, whether you want it or not. My suggestion to you is this, listen to me I have been through enough recessions, and have owned and worked in enough businesses to know that where we are now, is so different to the circumstances of the past – and there is no going back.
The knowledge and principles of the past will work for you, but relying on a.n other to solve some of these problems for you is plain stupid.
By thinking and acting differently, learning some simple skills FI is really possible. No matter what, the future is coming and the question is do you want to worry about it or embrace it?
But it’s more than that, I would suggest that it’s mandatory for you get this stuff right and for yourself if you want to guarantee your future.
Here Are Two Keys – mentioned again.
Leverage – doing things once and getting paid time and time again.
Knowledge – knowing what you need to know and then doing it.
The Wealthy Do This
There is one key to long term financial independence. It’s something that all wealthy people have done and continue to do, and it’s something that poor people don’t do.
That makes it a proven technique for FI – Financial Independence.
It’s called deferred gratification, it means don’t spend today what you may need tomorrow.
Wealthy people are always happy to defer owning or doing something until they have the cash, and in the meantime invest and leverage their money. You can argue this truth if you want, but to do so is to argue about something that is a truth and that would be plainly stupid.
This may also seem a bit boring, a bit naff even. Not spending money for some is something that just won’t be considered by many and they are normally poor. Spending less and banking what’s saved is the start of a really big change in your life and your relationship with money.
Remember, if nothing changes. Then nothing changes.
There is no quick fix no immediate quick win, but there are very solid methods that bring change exponentially. This deferred gratification is one of these wins. You’ll also get an exponential rate of increase – cash accumulations becomes quicker and quicker as the thing increases – a compounding effect.
Another clever trick to money is having some (I wish that was my line, but it comes from a great book – The Trick to Money is Having Some By Stuart Wilde– Google it) having some cash kicking around brings back control to you.
Having cash provides flexibility to move in on deals and opportunities as and when they arrive. £10k is a ten percent deposit on a £100k deal, if that deal could earn you just five percent you have just managed a 50% return on your initial capital – you just need to have the £10k in the first place.
But even smaller numbers can bring great rewards. £100 is a ten percent deposit on a grand deal, and so on.
No Magic Answers Here.
I know many of you won’t take any action and that’s life, and if you do nothing you’ll have no one to moan at when your finances don’t improve.
But I want you to be free, not to make the same mistakes I have made.
It’s why I do the work I do.
There are no instant answers or magic solutions. If you think for one moment, that true wealth arrives by you sitting on a beach, sipping a cold cocktail, clicking the mouse on your laptop; you are wrong and deluded. Of course the shiny suited magic potion providers (especially on the internet) telling you how easy it really is, will have you believe that they have the solution, they don’t.
A quick fix to obtaining FI does not exist outside an inheritance from a mysterious great aunt or a lottery win, both of which have the odds stacked against you.
All the knowledge you need is available from Google 24/7 all you need to know is out there. Application of that knowledge is what you need to do. Learning something, taking action is what you need to do.
Is it that simple?
It sure is!
Becoming financially independent at an early age needs a very different approach. Welcome aboard, but please take note..
You can’t just sit back and wait for it to happen, it really won’t.
You Need Your Own Business
With your own business, even a bitty one. You will have some control over how much you can charge for your time and who you have to work with and sell to. With the available technology it’s easier now than ever.
So How Do We Make Money Work Hard?
For some reason many people think that making money via the stock market is a hard thing to do, and if you do the same as everyone else I would agree with you. Yet, the evidence is overwhelming.
Making money from stocks, shares and other investments isn’t the easiest thing in the world but it is easier than digging ditches, laying bricks or plastering. And it is certainly possible to make your money work harder by looking at the markets a little differently.
One of the wealthiest men on the planet Warrant Buffet is incredibly rich, because of the stock market. He regularly makes a statement how his investment decisions are doing, and often mentions the fact that he ‘makes the money before he invests’ by that he means that his research and work in the lead up to actually investing is the most important bit – surely easier than digging ditches?
There is also the story of Jack MacDonald, a man who wanted to invest in the stock market in order to leave a legacy to his favourite charities. $188m was left in his will.
There are over 200 ISA millionaires according to the Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/isas/11468220/How-to-join-Britains-200-Isa-millionaires.html)
Also Joe Lewis who started off as a business owner, made his money through currency trading, and now is one of the richest men in the world. All of these people are Googleable, you can do your own research and find out how many people before you have managed to become financially independent either through investing or via business. Sure, it’s not ‘push button’ easy, these things never are. But that are humanly possible.
There are hundreds of these people around the world. How did they do what they did? They simply started by gaining some knowledge and applied it over the long term.
It’s possible for you to be able to do all of these things and more. The only thing that is holding you back is some knowledge and skills.
That’s it, there is nothing complicated about it at all. There is no quick fix, no magic solution. Just some tried and proven systems, that if you follow will guarantee success.
Where To Find The Money To Invest
There is one complaint I hear more than any other when I talk about making money and making that money make money.
It’s normally one of these excuses or a variation of one of these.
I don’t have any money spare, how can I save
It’s easy for you
I’m not good with money
Money equals greed and greed is bad
The excuses are long and endless. Normally they are very creative – as if some thought has been given as to why not. Why it doesn’t happen why someone can’t change or get the shift needed.
If you keep on doing the things you have always done you’ll keep on getting the things you have always got.
If nothing changes then nothing changes.
The most common of all of these excuses is time – I just don’t have the time they whine.
This is important. If you can find the time to pop off to the pub with your mates for a few beers, or to watch Eastenders/Emmerdale/Towie. Even the news.
Then just two of these will take up at least ten hours per week, which is practically a part time job. gGetting up half hour earlier each day will give you any extra three and a half hours per week.
So far that’s close to fourteen hours per week which is close to two working days per week, and I absolutely assure you in fourteen hours per week you can achieve independence in a few years, you have time. Really you have time – but you are not using your time wisely.
Provided you spend your time being productive and not wasting it, you will soon start to solve your cash problem, solve that and your life changes.
In fourteen hours per week you can get a part time job, start a part time business. Sell items on Ebay/Amazon, offer your services to local businesses – make it easy for yourself.
Example. If you currently work in sales/admin/whatever most small firms will be crying out for your help and support for a few hours per week – you won’t even need to learn any new skills if you offer the ones you already have. There are loads of options to increase income and only your excuses holding you back.
You will get what you focus on. Focus on earning the money.
Spend Less Than You Earn
I never said that the ideas in this book would be complex.
This basic rule of financial management has been with us since the beginning of time – if you don’t spend less than you earn, you’ll never have any to invest. With nothing to invest your future will never be better than your now!
Spending less than you earn is simple, provided you follow a few steps, create a budget, be mindful about what and how you spend and you use this millionaire tip when buying anything.
Leave the buying decision for at least ten days.This is a simple mind trick that uses the rules of deferred gratification as a valuable tool. After first realising the need to own or do something.
Make a note of it, store the note and wait. If you still need it in ten days time, then you go and buy it. Simple. If you don’t you can invest the money you would have spent.
Shopping with a list has a similar effect. If it’s on your list then buy it. If it’s not there is a good chance – the retail outlet has hacked your brain in order to make you think you want it – it’s called marketing.
It’s simplicity should indicate how powerful this can be. Wherever we look there is hype and buy now signals, you and I are manipulated by the ‘have it now brigade’ who insist on convincing us that now is the best time.
Everything from clothing to cars – have it now, free delivery today, interest free today. Let me tell you this. It’s a myth. There is always a deal to be had, today is usually the worst day to buy.
By making sure you delay the purchase, delay your gratification the more money you will save and the better off you will be, of course once you understand how this money thing works, you can simply increase income to make your needs to cover the cost of anything you might want to buy. I have two clients who build income to match expenditure – like lease costs on exoctic cars or specifically to fund holidays.
Try this. Pop into Tesco/Asda/Sainsbury’s wherever you normally shop – get your shopping list out. By now you will shop with a list!
Once you get to the aisle where your next product is located, look around and find a competing product (I have done this with everything from gravy granules to cars and it works nearly every time) you will be able find a competing product for cheaper. Hopefully a whole pound maybe, just maybe you will have to spread it across two products.
I can assure of this, there are only a handful of Gravy Granule manufacturers in Europe and there is an extremely good chance, no matter what brand you buy, the same factory produces them.
Of course, personal taste may come into play – that’s fine you can choose whatever brand you want. Provided you choose, instead of buying what’s in front of you and because you always have.
By now you will immediately be better of by £1 congratulations that £1 will go into your savings pot and start to work hard for you. Remember once that pound has been exchanged it’s gone forever. Out of your control and it’s the control of the pound that’s the key to your future, controlling one pound is the secret.
The next time you are out shopping, mindfully look around at other similar items. It’s possible to save 10% or more on every weekly shop, just by looking around – ten percent.
Mindful Shopping is simply noting the conversation going on in your head and asking, do I need it now, can I buy it cheaper, what are the alternatives? Have that internal conversation, live in this moment. Most people shop with their head in Matabeleland, which makes them an easy target for the buy it now brigade.
Make sure you you listen.
Every time you save a pound, move it to your savings. You can use a large jar, and bank it weekly; or use one of the banking apps on your phone that allows micro transfers. Every time you make a saving move it, become a hoarder pounds.
The same mindful spending applies to everything on your bank statement, review utilities, insurances and car finances. There are thousands of pounds to be saved. Stop watching others live their dreams on TV and spend a few hours working towards yours.
You may want to consider joining one of our MoneyTrainers meetups for help in all of these areas. These are a bit like a local slimming club, but we talk about making money work for us rather than losing weight. Certainly a club where piling on the pounds is a good thing,
Look carefully at your levels of income, is overtime paid correctly, if you are in receipt of income is it correct. Check and understand. Often we just think it will be ok, no need to check and of course this is why you should check everything.
If you currently have any investments or savings make sure you are taking the income from these, or at least rolling it up. There is no guarantee of future growth from an investment – but income once paid is yours forever, there is more on this a bit later.
Making sure you pay the correct amount of tax is important because you don’t want to end up paying more than you should.
Using your allowances and checking your tax bill on a regular basis is something you should do. It’s possible to use one of the ‘salary checker’ websites to make sure. Please note that these are not always accurate.
Let me introduce to my mate Dave, he’s a nice lad. Average, a bit like most of us. There is another chapter about Alison Average which cover the true cost of tax on all of your income and spending. It’s vitally important you understand how tax impacts on your over wealth .Meanwhile, meet Dave.
Dave is ‘Mr Average’ . In order for Dave to get £1 to spend he actually needs to earn £1.35 now I am not going to consider all other taxes Dave has to pay in order to survive (VAT and Council Tax) but just the core income tax and an National Insurance for this exercise.
In order for Dave to get…
£3.05 to spend on a Costa Coffee he needs to earn gross £4.11
For his weekly shop of £105 he needs to earn gross £141
The true cost of a Costa is £4.11 – Dave is selling £4.11 of his life in order to get £3.05 – Dave selling his time for money – he has only got so much of it left.
Selling time for money is something all of us do until we wake up to the fact that money can work hard for us. Knowing what the true costs are is important.
Every one of us has tax allowances and some are used correctly, especially if you are an employee pay as you earn income tax seems to be correct most, but not all of the time.
You should check to make sure you are claiming the right amount of allowances.
One ‘tax hack’ I have always like to make use of is…
Capital Gains Tax you allowance in this area means can earn £11,300 (17/18 tax year) without paying any tax on the gain. If you use these allowances correctly you could be earning around £22,500 per year without incurring any tax liability at all (income tax allowance and Capital Gains).
That’s an eleven percent gain on a £100k investment – without any tax to pay on the gain, of course there are some small hoops to jump through in order to manage gains like this – but for £11k per year, potentially I am sure you’ll find these hoops cost effective. If you are taking income from your pot you could have a ten percent rate of return on a £200k pot (making £300k in total) without paying any personal taxes at all).
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) this is one allowance that most people don’t use and it’s a massive tax break. Of course you need to have some money invested in order to use it. But it becomes a valuable allowance and very quickly if you follow some of the steps to make it so.
There are other allowances/breaks and some of the more interesting ones are listed below…
ISAs ( or as they were known) PEPs
UK government gilts and Premium Bonds
Betting, lottery or pools winnings are all tax free
There are a range of other allowances that are capital gains exempt, like cars and watches. If you can buy these at the right price and sell on again, any gains could be tax free of Capital Gains tax.
Finding the money to invest is the start of the process, then investing the money so that it works for you is the second part. It’s not complicated, and with your newly discovered fourteen hours every week you now have the time.
DEAL WITH DEBT
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Current UK National Debt – the amount owed by the government is £1.56 trillion (at May 2016). At the end of April 2018 personal debt – the amount owed by us all personally was £1.578 trillion. Over thirty thousand pounds for every working person in the UK.
UK National Debt now stands at £2.19 trillion. It was £1.7 trillion when I started writing this book. It’s currently increasing at around £5,170 per second. http://www.nationaldebtclock.co.uk. Someone will have to repay this at a future date.
Just so you know: a trillion seconds = 31,688 years or would take us back to back 29,000 years bc.
Jesus was just a twinkle in an eye somewhere.
There is something about debt. On one level it seems we can’t live without it, yet millions do manage it. Supported by the government and the banks we are encouraged to live now, buy now, have it all now on borrowed money – effectively mortgaging your future very nicely.
You may think that the lenders are interested in the security, the value of your property. In that case your credit score would be useless and everyone could borrow – no matter how good or bad your credit score. Reality check – lenders are more concerned about your future job prospects and your ability to repay – they earn their money by lending, not by owning and selling property.
Borrow if you need, just understand how bad it can be for your financial health – like smoking it feels good at the time, but stuck in a cancer ward with terminal lung cancer does not seem that great – especially knowing it was avoidable.
The message we get from all of those trying to sell us things is this .
Imagine how good you’ll feel when you have x or y. Just do it! The messages are endless.
There are many problems with this kind of thinking or approach to having stuff, and most of the stuff we all buy on credit is just stuff; first problem is this.
It’s a poor man’s (or woman) approach to life. The wealthy understand the truth about borrowing – you mortgage your future income in order to get that car or holiday this week rather than next month or next year, waiting for the right time, perhaps when you have saved enough.
Wealthy people, those that are able to earn and keep hold of money have very different spending patterns to most of us, and certainly don’t borrow to buy stuff. Working on your buying decisions is one way to ensure you become FI (financial independent) at some time in your life.
Long after the buzz of the purchase has gone, you will still paying for it out of your future income. Debt, effectively robs you of a future, an independent future.
It’s also stressful, and stress is a killer. Debt equals death, bit harsh, but go ask anyone in debt.
Repay/Overpay – Do This It’ll Change Ya Life.
I have a budget planner available from my website (email me on email@example.com and ask me for a copy of it.
On the debt side of this planner I ask you to rank debt in order of it’s interest charge. Often you will find that the actual interest charge on much of your debt varies from 16% – 28% right down as low as 1% for mortgages.
You should then consider what borrowing can be repaid without penalty – credit cards are not normally a problem, but loans and other types of finance may have a penalty, check first.
Once you know what the most expensive debt is you should start to make larger payments to this, and maintain the minimum or contracted payment to the rest of your debt.
This method provides you with a ‘snowball effect’ as the more expensive debt starts to reduce, thus you’ll be paying less interest and more capital; forcing the debt to reduce.
But do it, really. Of all the information in this book – this is the one that is likely to have most impact in the short term.
True Cost Of Credit – Alison Average.
A few years ago Alison went on a very nice holiday and she put the cost of this on her credit card which leaves her with just half of the UK average debt of £4500.
This is likely to be paid off over the next ten years or so if she doesn’t spend any more on her card.
Based on average repayment time, and an interest rate of 18.9% assuming she makes the minimum payment she should clear the balance completely in around 31 years, and pay £6350 in interest. Total cost is over ten grand.
There Is A Problem With Pensions
This saving up for retirement for rubbish what does it all mean. Every financial adviser, government portal, insurance company, newspaper will all tell you to put money into a pension. That’s a good thing to do! But is it.
If you are thirty now, you have roughly 50 years of a life left, let me ask you. Do you want to spend it, putting money into a pension or long term scheme only to be just ‘pre zimmer’ when you get your hands on it?
Pensions are just about the most inflexible way of saving known to man, and not even that tax efficient – just tax deferred.
You don’t pay any tax while you are growing your pot but the bulk of the fund is taxed when you draw on it. Of course, leaving it long term means you pay more in charges than alternative investments and of course, the earliest date you can draw on a pension is firmly controlled by Government; and increasing in recent years.
Of course the industry wants you to comply with what they want – it’s how they earn their money, there would be no pensions industry without pensions.
No surprise then that no one highlights the fact that you do have other options, other than pensions and formally structured investments like them.
Gone are the days when you were offered a great guaranteed pension from some financially stable employer; who I might add only expected you to live for a few years after retirement anyway.
Pensions as we know them suck and I welcome the conversation if you want to convince me otherwise – they do have a place inside a financial plan. But for use as medium to grow wealth, nah! To make sure you end up financially independent – pre zimmer – not a chance.
Note: I do have higher level financial qualifications so do understand more than many about this area of personal and corporate financial planning.
Pensions are controlled fully by Government legislation and rules. A large fund inside a pension will never give you financial freedom, if the Government changes its mind then pensions get changed. In the last twenty years the number of pension changes has been in the hundreds. I know I have worked with them during that period.
Let’s Look At The Maths Of A Personal Pension Arrangement
If yo make an investment into a personal pension, for yourself and assuming there is no employer contribution you end up with figures that look like the tables below.
These tables show the true effect pension company charges have on your pension.
No Charge Basis (difficult to get).
Annual Charges of % at 6% pa compound returns
How Old Are You Next Birthday
Monthly savings for your pension
Years Left Before Retirement
Basic Rate Tax Relief
add 20% tax relief
Total Personal Payments
Fund value at age 69 based on the
Average Long Term Fund Performance
from all pension funds
6% per annum returns
Value at retirement based on
6% per annum returns
You end up with
Daily interest compounded
From which you can take
as tax free cash
Fund for income
Income Tax at 20%
Government gets in tax
Tax Relief Allowed on contribs
Government profit on tax relief
You get back in total
Tax free cash
Per year return
If we factor in charges at 2%
Annual Charges of 2% at 6% pa compound interest
How Old Are You Next Birthday
Monthly savings for your pension
Years Left Before Retirement
Basic Rate Tax Relief
add 20% tax relief
Total Personal Payments
Fund value at age 69 based on the
Average Long Term Fund Performance
from all pension funds
6% per annum returns
Value at retirement based on
6% per annum returns
You end up with
Daily interest compounded
From which you can take
as tax free cash
Fund for income
Income Tax at 20%
Government gets in tax
Tax Relief Allowed on contribs
Government profit on tax relief
You get back in total
Tax free cash
Per year return
Based on the above assumptions and comparing investing with no charges you can see that the pension providers take substantial amounts away from you.
On a no charge basis you end up with £135,618 of profit over the period but when you factor in charges of just 2% you end up making just £69,427 which is quite a difference
Charges are important. By the time you take into account these pensions don’t look as attractive as the industry makes out.
I have used compound interest calculator for these figures and these are not always completely accurate, however I can assure you they are close. I have some video training in this area which you will find of benefit. Drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of you making pension contributions will also have debts of one kind or another. Let’s look closely at pensions versus increasing payments to any credit card debt you may have.
Assuming you have a £5,000 balance on your credit card.
Making credit card repayments instead of making pension contributions means you are likely to be much better off financially, at least in the short term.
By investing in a pension whilst you have debts, you are effectively borrowing your lender (in the above case a credit card company) to invest via a pension. You are then hoping that the returns from the pension will be more than the cost, in interest terms on the debt.
Credit card interest rates on average are over 17% per annum.
Average returns from pension funds are around 7% over the last ten years and closer to 6% per annum longer term.
Importantly there is this thing called compound interest, this is effectively interest on interest and it’s a useful way of improving your investment returns. Money for nothing, effectively.
However it works for you when you are investing and works against you when you are borrowing.
Do the maths on your own pension plan, drop me an email and ask for the Pension Charge spreadsheet (email@example.com) you can also ask for the template pension letter to send to your existing pension provider.
Let’s get the truth shall we.
Please note. If you benefit from an employers contribution to your pension, then slightly different rules apply simply because of your employer contribution. That doesn’t change the maths aroud charges though.
Moneytrainers can help you sort out the truth at any one of our training events.
A sample of low cost pension providers is linked below.
Low Cost Pensions
From MoneySaving Expert
Cavendish Online, BestInvest,Commshare, Close Brothers, Chelsea Financial Services,Fidelity, Hargreaves Lansdown* and TQ Invest.
Investment Products and Charges
Of course we make a forward plan based on some reasonable assumptions and we invest. Nothing wrong with that. There are however a couple of things you can control, and have full control over.
This one thing is the charges you pay in order to invest or have your investments managed for you.
This has changed much in recent years, once upon a time you could face…
front end charges
And just so you know products that have all of these charges still exist in the marketplace. For that reason you should review and check all of your investments today just to make sure.
With modern online services or wraps as they are called you should only face a couple of charges they should be explicit and easy to find.
These charges are…
· Wrap charge or platform charge
· Adviser charge
· Product charge or managers charge.
You should not be paying any investment charges outside of these.
Add yours up. If you are paying much more than 1.5% per annum then a review is urgently required. If you have a 2% overall charge, then you will be spending 20% of your investment value every ten years and a review is required even more urgently.
It’s for this reason there are no shortage of providers in the market place and they all work in better offices than you and I.
It’s for this same reason our largest insurance companies have Ivory Towers to work in, given that average pension charges have been has high as 5% per year historically.
You do the maths to find out how much income that brings in.
Over the years there have been a number of changes forced on the industry which should have forced all firms to come clean, to tell the truth. However, finding out the specific level of charges for any investment or savings plan has never been easy.
With over two thousand fund managers, one hundred and fifty insurance companies and a plethora of specialist pension providers your choice and the number of charges has never been greater.
The last five years has also seen the rise of the online platform – which is great news for us as investors, and bad news for advisers and the industry.
Historically you could have paid, commission, set up charges, investment charges and on-going fees on all of your investments, some of which would have been clearly documented; but often buried, in small print at a hard to find place in a pile of documents.
It was done like this for good reason… if you understood the truth you probably wouldn’t invest.
Pension Charges – historically as high as 5% per year and as low as 1.5%. Modern style platform charge as low as .5%
Investment (ISA) historically as high as 3.5% per year and as low as 1.5%. Modern style platform charge as low as .2%
Overall the effect of charges compounds up over a period time, a 2% charge is equal to 20% every ten years, 5% annual charge equates to 50% every ten years.
That is why charges are so important, and why the industry has gone out of it’s way to hide, cover and bury the true costs of a pension contract or other investment contract.
They are better now, but there are still millions of investments and plans out there that are on ‘old terms’.
Review and check, but do it sooner rather than later.
Investing for income is one of the secrets of the very wealthy, and a ‘sure fire’ for you to start becoming financially free – not having to sell your time to your employer.
Even on modest amounts of savings, income from investments makes sense. With £100,000 invested, at a 5% dividend (yield) held inside an ISA means your income will be around £5,000 per year, which is the equivalent of earning over £8,500 in taxed income.
As I mentioned, life changing does not have to be massive.
Income should be a major part of your planning from now on in.
Income funds, income paying investments, income. If your planned investments don’t contain these words then get it touch to double check. Every investment you make should focus on getting an income. I fully appreciate that there are times you may want to consider the alternatives. Don’t, well at least not for the time being.
Investing In ‘Tracker’ Funds and Why Tracker Type Funds?
Across the world there are more fund managers than shares in which to invest, more opinions than things to invest in . Based on the evidence most of these opinions are wrong most of the time.
It’s one of the reasons I like using ETF’s (exchange traded funds), they are effectively managed for you and dirt cheap to invest in. They sometimes use a complex set of rules, but no human element – no opinion.
I have outlined this on the chart below. One of these ETF’s is the blue line in the image. Low charges and solid outperformance (the source is Trustnet, which is a safe and independent comparison tool).
Comparison below shows the ishares UK Dividend (income) product and (in red) the FTSE 100 performance.
With returns like this and low charges why would you pick a fund manager who would be charging you some ten times more and probably not delivering anywhere near the performance.
In this article from the Daily Telegraph there is further evidence of this. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/investing/funds/90pc-of-popular-isa-funds-fail-to-beat-the-market/
Given the level of activity in the pensions market, with the various changes that have arrived (pensions freedom etc) there are a good number of firms out there selling everything from pensions busting, to overseas property investment.
Most of these are aimed at ‘sophisticated investors’ (read – every one who will listen) and are often marketed as something incredibly safe. The fact is they are usually the opposite of that.
The various financial regulators and the Police seem powerless to stop these bad guys from popping up.
The easy way to confirm if your adviser or firm is legitimate, follow these steps.
Contact the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and carry out a ‘firm check’, this will point you in the right direction initially.
If you are not sure, ask the adviser for their personal reference number, if they are authorised they will have one, check with the FCA to make sure they exist. Drop me an email if you want and I’ll check it for you. No problem.
Google the firm, make sure their website exists.
If they are advertising in a local news paper, running seminars that usually include free food and/or have contacted you directly and usually by phone, you can reckon on their offer being dodgy.
MoneyTrainers do not offer or recommend any one product or product provider, none of our people will ever suggest or recommend a specific course of action.
Time is the only thing you cannot get more of. Use it wisely, we never know when it’s going to end.
Take five minutes and look around, everything has been created by someone, they made money from it. And money does buy freedom. Fact.
The same thinking, doing the same things that have led you to now will never deliver financial independence. How much have you got, go on add it up if you didn’t do the last exercise do it now. It’s powerful. Most of you reading this will either just over broke or slightly over. I know what that feels like. I’ve spent plenty of time life like that.
MoneyTrainers is about collaboration, sharing, learning, moving forwards together. What you don’t know, you don’t know, but our group does.
The clock is ticking, tick- tock. There is no point in becoming one of life’s waiters. Waiting for the markets to settle down, waiting until you get the right job, waiting for Labour or the Lib-Dems to be elected…
All of the self development knowledge tells us that time is important – once wasted it never comes back. It’s exactly the same as spending money – once spent on stuff if never comes back. Getting more money is pretty easy once you know how but you will never get more time.
I won’t go on any more, waiting is something us humans (or Brits) seem to be good at. There is no time to wait, you’ll be dead before anything good happens to you. We (all of us) waste the only resource that is not replaceable – those minutes and hours we get every day.
For those of us lucky enough to arrive at age 75 you would have lived for about 657,000 hours, and slept for about 217,000 of them leaving 440,000 left. Of which some 192,00 are used up for an education (assumed to age 22).
You are left with 248,000 with 27,000 or so spent on holiday (chillaxing for 3 weeks every year) leaving 190,000 hours left, to work (58,000 odd) and enjoy.
Facts About Time
Every minute of every day resets every minute, what you did in the last minute does not need to resemble the next minute. You can apply that to the hour, day, week, month and year.
What happened yesterday does not force the same to happen today, you have a choice. Make different decisions. Don’t waste time.
Using money wisely allows you to leverage time, having investment income means you can chill in the bath, watch your favourite team play, spend time with your loved ones. Acquire experiences.
Having income that you are not working for allows you to wisely spend money on a house cleaner, a car valet all manner of time saving things. You will then have time to enjoy your life, not wait for a time when you are invited by your pension provider to enjoy it. Being half dead before you become financially independent is not the right answer.
If you can’t do that now, follow the steps in this book and you soon will.
“Buy experiences not stuff” Richard Smith.
Don’t bother trying to reinvent anything, it’s too time consuming, you have enough to learn for the time being. Put in place some of the things you’ll learn here, and once they have started to work for you and pay an income, then you can start to look at the other options.
At the moment, use your time wisely.
Eighteen ways to save time.
Spend the first hour of everyday working on your business, reducing your costs, managing your money.
Turn off your phone, email, social.
Write a will do list every evening.
Use the 90 day goal setting approach
Do your homework.
Question each task.
Don’t answer your phone.
Make callbacks between one and two every day.
Respond to email one or twice everyday.
Never move paper twice.
Focus on one thing at a time.
Get an assistant.
Document your processes
Focus on the high value work. Marketing, planning, building relationships.
Start a journal and use it.
Use a diary/crm so your mind doesn’t need a reminder.
You Renting- Get Your Own Back – Pay Less Tax
This whole financial planning malarkey has never looked so different. The financial ‘advice’ industry has collapsed with most of the old style advisers (what I call commision animals) disappearing and now everyone wants to be a wealth manager or summat.
Bottom line is few really add any value and as I’ve said before:
“If all you needed to do in order to become financially independent was to sit down in front of an adviser for thirty minutes a year and pay them for an hour of time – we’d all be lining up, down the high street.
Demand would be so strong we’d need millions of advisers, not just the thirty thousand odd there are now. Fact is that’s not true, advisers don’t make people wealthy, you need more than advice and sadly that’s a truth the industry won’t admit.” Richard Smith
When I initially said that it was like lighting a firework – never seen so many trolls. But hey, the truth is painful.
Meanwhile according to Generation Rent some fifty percent of the UK population no longer own homes, but rent. Whatever the figures it’s been a slippery slope since the Banking Crisis in 2007/8 and home ownership has slipped.
Of course you can blame this on lots of things, the rise of gig economy, immigration, more self employed etc. There is no one answer this.
Interesting to note however the special tax treatment of owning your own home.
No capital gains tax on sale no matter how much profit you make.
Allowances on death which means having a £1m home means you are unlikely to pay any inheritance tax (assumes death after April 2017). Provided you are married.
I wrote to George Osborne’s office on this matter and got a curt reply, which was interesting – yeah nothing changing there anytime soon.
So if you own or let out a house/flat you are treated more favourably than if you rent under the present rules. This amazed me. Come 2020 when the new rules on buy to let arrive that may not be the case.
What then to do?
I looked around at a couple of options for this and the most sound get back is this.
Start a little business, part time. Even reduce your full time hours to suit. Get some income rolling in and then designate one room in your rented home as your ‘home office’. Dependent on the amount of income you get from your business, will depend on how much you can claim back as a business expense.
Fact is, you may never be as well off as homeowner, but it’s a damn fine start. Don’t forget that whatever expenses you have that are ‘wholly and exclusively’ for business purposes can also be used to reduce profits from your business.
Now I’m not saying you should act fraudulently but you owe it to yourself to make the rules work for you rather than other way around. Start a business, pay less tax.
From the Government website
If you work from home you may be able to claim a proportion of your costs for things like:
mortgage interest or rent
internet and telephone use
You’ll need to find a reasonable method of dividing your costs, eg by the number of rooms you use for business or the amount of time you spend working from home.
Example You have 4 rooms in your home, one of which you use only as an office.
Your electricity bill for the year is £400. Assuming all the rooms in your home use equal amounts of electricity, you can claim £100 as allowable expenses (£400 divided by 4).
If you worked only one day a week from home, you could claim £14.29 as allowable expenses (£100 divided by 7).
Thank you for making it to the end, many wouldn’t have and that’s fine. I can’t please everyone. Fact is some of you reading this want quick results, and you now know – it’s about a process and not a quick fix.
Becoming FI is a worthy challenge, it really is life changing. I wish you well on your journey, keep this book with you, get on my email list where I share a daily email with oodles of great information. You are also welcome to come along to one of my Money Meetups where we solve all sorts of money problems, in a collaborative way. Many minds are much much better than one.
I personally look forward to seeing you there.
Current Courses and Training
£500 Guaranteed – everyone on my training gets this. How to make £500 in the coming couple of months with no risk. Easy peasy.
Pensions – moving yours.
Pension Freedom – doing this without spending thousands.
Annuity Comparison – Two Hours (online)
Investing – Made Easy – Three Months (online)
Asset Allocation Month – Weekly sessions over four weeks
Tax, Inheritance Tax, Care Fees – Three Weeks
Your Own Business – 8 Months To Get It Right (keep your job until then).
A Money Trainers Year – 12 months of webinars/workshops.
MoneyTrainers Training – New ‘MoneyTrainers’ Associate Training. For those that want to help me help others and earn while you do.
MoneyTrainers have recently introduced the 30 Days To Financial Independence training which teaches how to arrange your financial plans smartly and quickly. You can get yours by popping over to moneytrainers.co.uk. You’ll be more than pleased you did.
MoneyTrainers.co.uk – The Truth About Modern Money.
Over here at MoneyTrainers we don’t have any financial products to sell, just and independent and impartial money education.
If you like, telling you the whole truth about money; how the industry sucks it out of your investment and how you can avoid poverty in older life.
We also look at the scams, tips and tricks you should be aware of before you make any decision about spending your hard earned cash.
Richard Smith – MoneyTrainer can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or directly on 0774 007 6226
#~# Notes about fund choices
Source Trustnet. With over 8299 funds to compare and a large number of newly created funds that have no ten year performance this is not any easy, therefore I have taken the average performing fund from the top third of funds with ten year performance figures and the amount is just under 4.5% per year. An even bigger problem with the performance figures is the consistency when comparing. Some funds with five year returns are at the top of the comparisons and nowhere to be seen over 1 and 3 years. This indicates a lucky investment by them and not much else.
State of Self Employed Pensions (2016)
Which Pension Pig is feeding at your trough?
Every year one of the main UK financial publications produces a pension survey; it’s a whole of market thing where all of the main pension providers submit a return.
It provides a snapshot of actual investment returns over a range of timescales. Effectively it shows in real terms, if you did x you would end up with y.
I enjoy reading it, because I am a geek when it comes to pensions and the truth around these things.
See, these pension plans are so damn complicated and few consumers really understand them.
Complexity is just one of the problems you face when considering making a plan for the future, but more on that in a bit.
If you invested £200 per month (ignoring tax relief for the moment) you could have ended up with any of the following results.
*Source Money Management Pension Survey
What’s brilliant about these figures is that it shows up in clear detail why your choice of pension provider is important, but also why the choice of fund is equally as important. More important than both of those, is the level of charges.
Pensions have gone through great change in recent years and very few of the plans in the marketplace do what you think they are doing – looking after you.
Based on my maths it would seem that the pension provider, and the taxman does nearly as good as you via pensions and you take all of the risk.
The world of pensions has moved on substantially in the last five years and in my experience most financial advisers have not.
I’ll gladly send you some of my online tools just get in touch.
I’ll even give you thirty minutes at no charge – just don’t tell everyone.
You can’t ignore your long term planning – it’s the reason we all do what we do – to make the long term better.
Question is what to do next, put your money into stock so you can sell more, pay off your mortgage or plough money into pensions.
The last of those is probably the last thing you should do.
Alison Average – Just an Ordinary British Girl
Let me introduce Alison, she was wondering where all of her money went on a monthly basis, so I helped her by showing how her lifetime of money would look if she did nothing, made no plans.
Her working lifetime spend repaying debt and taxation is below.
Alison Average was twenty years of age on the 18th January 2016. Her working life will be 48 years. These figures are based on taxation then.
Assuming she continues working she can expect to get £115 per week from the State Pension Scheme, starting on the 18th January 2064. July 2017 update – now a year later – guess where this is going?
Alison works in an average job for average pay of £26,500. This means that over a lifetime she will earn £1,272,000. It’s likely to be substantially more than that, inflation and job progression etc will help to boost her lifetime earnings. She should be pleased with that, a lifetime millionaire – only it’s paid in instalments.
Ordinary people like Alison don’t get to keep all of their income.
Some of it will be taxed and other bits forced into pensions; she also has living costs to find, she is the same as you and I.
When I first started looking at the true effects of lifetime taxation on ordinary people I did a double take – just didn’t really believe the figures.
So here are the figures. Remember these the next time you head over to the Ballot Box to cast your vote – you pay dearly for these people. Which is why managing your taxes makes more sense now than ever.
Alison Average – A Lifetime of Taxation and Debt Repayment.
Lifetime Income Tax And National Insurance
Lifetime Travel Costs
Total Mortgage Costs £205,500 borrowed (Interest £75K)
Council Tax (48 years)
Credit Card Interest
Insurance Premium Tax
Home Fuel VAT
Lifetime Income Net
Total Tax And Interest
In Percentage Terms Alison Keeps
After Income Tax and National Insurance Alison gets around £1758 per month, however her gross pay is £2208.33 per month, which means £449 is deducted before she gets it. Over her working life she gives to the government via income taxes £258,624.
She did not opt do a degree or she would have had to fund the costs of that, and could have had around £50,000 in debt to repay, interesting that the interest charge on this amount in 2017 will be 6.1%.
Alison does not have the means to buy a house on her own she could not afford one. She has found a flat which is ideal, but she will have to commute into London – it’s not possible to find a flat within her budget and within walking distance of her work.
She will have a season ticket cost of £1600 per year, or £76,800 over her working life.
She decides to buy the flat at £145,000 with a mortgage via one of the major high street lenders, she borrows 95% (£130,000). Her mum helped out with the deposit.
Monthly cost assuming interest rates remain the same is £685 which means she will pay back around £205,000 over the life of the mortgage, and pay around £1,000 per annum in Council Tax over her remaining working life, if Alison lives to average age (81.5) she can expect this to total over £61,500.
As she is buying her own home, she will also have to find Stamp Duty.
Assuming she only moves three times during her lifetime than she’ll have to find another £7500 or so (assuming she buys at current prices).
Of course if she is lucky enough, saves and invests wisely then she could end up investing in property (one strategy that works) under the new rules for stamp duty she could pay substantially more in this kind of tax.
That said the new (current) tax rules around Buy to Let will have a large impact looking forward, so perhaps she’ll leave that for the time being.
Her mum got her a car for her birthday, and she spends around £20 every week on fuel, visiting family and her boyfriend.
Based on an average of £80 month (£960 per year), she has to pay Fuel Duty at 57.95p per litre, and of course VAT. Fuel Duty is £556.32 per year and VAT making up another £192 every year.
Over Alison’s working life that makes around £36,000 in additional taxation.
Alison also drinks the odd glass of wine with her friends; she’s not sure but thinks it’s around the government guidelines which is two 750cl bottles per week, meaning the total Wine Duty cost is about £5.50 per week or £13,728 over her working life.
She does have some other expenses, and Alison spends around £300 per month on food and clothing. Most of which has VAT added. She’s not sure of her itemised spending but she thinks most of it includes VAT, so around £60 per month goes to the Treasury. £34,560 over her working life.
A few years ago she went on a very nice holiday and she put the cost of this on her credit card which leaves her with just half of the UK average debt of £4500.
This is likely to be paid off over the next ten years or so if she doesn’t increase her balance any more ( and based on average repayment times). The current interest rate on her card is 18.9% and if she makes the minimum payment she should clear the balance completely in around 31 years, and pay £6350 in interest.
There are some incidental taxes, and these should be considered.
Her home and car insurance has insurance premium tax (IPT) added at 9.5%. (IPT is 12% from June 2017) Alison pays £900 for her car insurance and £400 for home contents, making £123.50 per year or £5928 over her working life.
Another incidental is the effect of VAT on home energy, as Alison is conservative user she only spends £104 per month on both, however the vat is £5.20 per month or £2995 over her working life, increasing to £3837 over her lifetime.
Consider another of Alison’s additional payments – her pension. It’s likely she will be taking home less income to the tune of about £100 per month by making a pension contribution, however based on the level of charges (assumed 2%) she could expect to lose around 20% of her fund every ten years.
Noting that if her pension fund ends up as nothing because of poor investment returns there is no recourse on the state or the company – she would have some comeback for just about every other consumer purchase, but none for pension non performance or excessive charges.
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) is the right statement to use when talking about pensions.
Despite various searches around the Government portals like Money Advice Service and the Financial Conduct Authority, the Pension Advisory service it’s not possible to clearly clarify the impact of charges, those sites that should offer calculators don’t.
She can’t believe that in 2017 there is no simple method of comparison for pension providers and no Government intention of providing one.
If she opts for Pension Freedom at retirement her overall charges will increase substantially.
There are a number of things Alison Average can do to help with the amount of tax she pays, and by arranging her finances differently she could be saving many tens of thousands of pounds over her lifetime.
Even if she manages to build up as little as two years salary, invested this will make a massive difference to her pre zimmer and post zimmer life.
If Alison saves at least some of her money for her use rather than for everyone else to use – spent money is enjoyed by others and not by you; she could…
Take longer holidays, perhaps a month off every year in the middle of winter.
Take mini breaks of a couple of months every couple of years, like a mini retirement.
Cash in the bank is freedom.
2015 Pension Changes – What Do They Mean To You?
Pensions have been changing in recent years and the changes that arrived in April 2015 have been mentioned as radical and massive but the reality is it’s just an extension of what has been happening for the last ten years or more.
Technology has made it far easier to manage your own finances and with the availability of high quality information it’s now incredibly simple for individuals to take control and benefit from a far lower level of charges; amongst other important things.
The facts are that most Independent Advisers and Investment experts get it wrong in particular in relation to investment choices.
Or we would all be rich, right! Just by sitting in front of an adviser for a few hours every year.
Just a few of the things that I explain to my mentees have the power to fundamentally improve your financial position very quickly, and these few things are just not used by most financial professionals as they are deemed to be too simple or two basic. It could also be that these people are in business and their business is to make a profit from selling services – not educating.
Examples of these are below.
There is one thing you can invest in that is guaranteed to provide better investment returns than 70% of managed funds. Tracker funds.
One thing you can change to make sure you are protected in any investment market conditions. Asset allocation.
Change the way your cash deposits are structured can improve your returns by 8 x when compared with a building society/bank account. Correct use of the Peer to Peer platforms.
By timing your investments you could have had returns at least 6% better in 2014, 7.2% better in 2015 and 5% better in 2017, that’s the same amount of money going in but substantially better returns. Most of this is too much trouble for the average advisory firm – as I keep saying, why should they bother, it’s not their money.
Pensions – the difference between a low cost provider and the average provider could cost you 40% of your pension every ten years.
If you are using a financial adviser did you know that you could be paying over half the value of your investments in charges over a normal lifetime.
It’s the above things that most ‘super rich’ are aware of and do – and if you want the same results as them you should simply do the same.
Despite twenty six years of financial services regulation the rogue providers, poor quality advisers, high charging plans and poor investment performance still continue to be widespread.
Interestingly enough on the investment performance side of things, there are specific rules about all kinds of things but nothing in relation to performance. No matter what charges you pay – there is no guarantee of any future return.
How can that be? It can be because there has been a spectacular failure of regulation over many years.
Warning on Pensions.
There are a large number of fraudsters offering to ‘bust your pension’ or ‘help you invest your pension in property’ around at the moment and nearly all of these are scams or plans so expensive as to not really be of any benefit.
Pension rules have been around for years subsequently any gaps in the rules that may disadvantage the Inland Revenue have been closed.
I can assure you. If it looks or sounds to good to be true it is.
UK Government has promised time and time again to shut down some of the bad players, however don’t hold your breath for these to be stopped anytime soon. As I said before hoping for a change in Government rules and regulations in your favour is unlikely. Sad but true.
What Happened To Pensions From April 2015?
At the moment if you have a pension you can do several things with it at your chosen retirement date – from age 55.
Take some tax free cash or not.
Take some tax free cash and income or not.
Purchase an annuity with the fund.
Leave the fund invested but take an income.
Do nothing and leave the fund as is – stop or continue contributions.
Since April 2015.
You can access all of your pension fund as cash but it will be taxable in part, and that needs to be carefully considered.
Is this a massive change? Well yes and no. For quite a while now you have been able to draw income from your pension fund instead of being forced to buy an annuity, and the industry is getting all excited about the changes but in reality most of the options have been around for a while.
The changes from April 2015 will allow you to draw tax free cash and then the remaining fund as a lump sum less income tax if you wish. Now this means that you will be able to draw on a pot of cash and be left with no pension.
This is not a problem provided you are aware of it.
If you decide to take cash from your pension under the new rules then the amount will be added to your earned income and will be taxed accordingly. You will have to do the sums to make sure you don’t end up with a higher rate income tax liability and make sure you do this before you touch your pensions.
1. Tax free cash of 25% of your pension fund is always tax free.
2. The balance drawn from your pension either as income or as a lump sum is taxable and will be taxed in full at 40%. You’ll have to reclaim this if you are basic rate taxpayer.
Importantly if you draw on your pension benefits any future pension contributions are capped, this is to stop pension recycling, taking money from a pension and paying it in again.
The treasury has also provided some help with more tax efficiency by making changes to the rules relating to death benefits.
Broadly these mean that the death of a pension owner before age 75 can pass on pension benefits without the old 55% tax liability used to exist.
Some good news on this area of planning and one that has further uses.
The Cost Of All This Flexibility
As always you the consumer will be expected to pick up the bill for charges to your pension contracts and the more flexibility you get the more you pay in charges.
Most financial advisers are charging at least 2% of the fund value for initial advice and then the provider takes their slice which could be at least 1.5% of the fund, and you could then face annual charges which will be either fixed or variable.
When you add up these investment charges you can expect at least 3.5% of your fund go in initial charges, and at least 2% to go in annual charges making some 5.5% of your pension fund going in the first year.
With a £100k pot that’s some £5500 going immediately. If your adviser is charging 1% p.a to oversee your fund and the investment funds add on a .5% (at least) in annual charge you can expect £1425 to be taken in the second year.
Pension flexibility has just cost you £6925 based on a £100k pot. No wonder the industry is getting excited.
Now you know why I teach people like you to take control of their pensions – there are at least 6925 reasons in the above scenario.
By taking charge of your own planning you could reduce annual and set up costs to below £400 dependent on the options selected.
Ongoing costs will also be less than .6% in total – that’s £600 instead of £1425.
6925 Or So Reasons To Take Personal Control.
It is very easy to take investment costs of nearly seven grand and reduce that to less than one, if you like percentages that’s an 85.82% saving.
Now you may think you have do a lot of work to make those savings. Fact is you will take less than four hours of your time and around 30 minutes per month to manage (maybe even less).
Over the last few weeks I have been presenting at a number of events, attended by mainly ‘older’ people – certainly 45 plus. They have been amazed at how things have changed in recent years.
Some of the things I have shared even surprised me, and I have been working with personal and business finance for the last thirty years or so.
University costs are now charged at a rate of £9k every year along with grants being withdrawn – and recent changes to include trainee Nurses who will also be charged for their fees.
Care Fees if you need them in later life are nearly always charged back to individuals and even if you qualify for Continuing Care (the funded NHS cover) you’ll still have to find about a grand a week, that is unless you are just about dead or have less than £23,750 banked.
Inheritance tax – which is now levied on pretty ordinary homes. Certainly if you purchased your home during the 1970 – 1994 period there is more than an outside chance your estate will have to pay this tax especially if it’s in the South East. That said many other areas of the UK have seen good returns which may well end up taxed on death.
Mandatory pension contributions via Auto Enrolment and a reduction in the level of State Pension. Reductions in State Pensions alone are costing couples more than £20,000.
Interesting to note that the Government scheme NEST has lost a big chunk of cash to fraud, is not living up to its promise in terms of reducing charges for members and is controlled by TATA – yup the Indian owned outsourcing and everything else business.
These changes all subtly introduced to our welfare and education systems are bringing change to all of our lives and there is probably little we can do about them.
There is no doubt that we are seeing a withdrawal of state benefits in order for this government or the next to balance its books.
With a growing elderly population it is more than likely we will see more and more reductions in what the state provides. Living longer is great, provided of course you can afford if.
If you are under 30 now you need to consider carefully what needs to happen to your personal finances in order for you to be FI (financially independent) before you get to 60.
If you are under 40 you need to consider the above, and to make a shorter term plan to reduce your overall level of taxation; at the same time make sure your income levels can be maintained. Reducing debt now and managing your budget will be very helpful. Damn boring but very sensible.
If you are under 50 with perhaps some eighteen years left until you retire you should be considering your existing investments, the charges therein and your longer term plan. Converting your investments into ‘income producing’ now will make a lot of sense.
Ignore what you are told about having a ‘growth fund’ income has always been good. Once paid it’s your forever, unlike the growth which can go up and down.
Great Britain and the rest of the world are changing dramatically, but financial plans seem to be stuck in the 1960’s.
Look around before you make any decisions, come to one of my workshops, get on my email list. Do something.
Drop an email to email@example.com for a start. We’ll keep you updated.
Let me ask you some questions about your financial future.
Do you think it’s looking good?
Do you have a plan in place?
Are you sure of your future income?
Is this income guaranteed?
If you stop work does the income stop?
Do you know how much tax you will have to pay?
What happens to us normally is we leave school or Uni, get a job, a lover or partner and then find somewhere to live. Work hard, retire and then die.
Cheerful when it’s said like that.
That pattern seemed to make sense up until the 1970’s when jobs were for life, or at least close, life expectancy after retirement was two to five years.
This was supported by pension schemes designed in the 1930’s that were expected to pay out a pension for a very short number of years.
Things have moved on. Life expectancy is now 79 for men and 82 for women. The amount of cash required for a comfortable retirement is now considerably more.
Low interest rates mean the income from Annuity (income for life) type products has been eroded massively.
By investing and saving wisely and by using a few ‘wealth tricks’ it’s possible for you to thrive in the future. It’s not possible using conventional pension investments – you know hand over your cash and hope.
You’ll need a bit of this.
You may have heard this term many times before, ‘you need to be self reliant’ ‘don’t depend on anyone else’ or the one I like more is ‘take control’.
Of course the people who say these things are normally directing the comment at someone else, as if to teach them something, to make them more independent; and it makes some sense if only they (you) understood what to do next.
Being self reliant means knowing and then having a plan. If you don’t manage resources like money they soon go. One of my best loved quotes when working with people is this snippet
“You get what you focus on.”
Meaning, if you concentrate really hard and focus on what makes sense with a little bit of plan – like an end game. You will end up with more of that something than when you started. Fact.
Now I am not talking about getting rich quick, or smart hacks to win the lottery or any other rubbish. I am talking about growing your knowledge, skills and pot of money to the point where you don’t have to rely on others.
Of course you may choose to rely on others, no man is an island and all that and that’s a good thing.
Self reliance means that whatever happens, recessions, Brexit, cash crises, house prices crashing etc etc. You are not affected or even bothered.
This status is far easier to achieve than you think. So for the moment just think about what it is you need to do, to learn or to adjust in order to be self reliant.
What do you think it will take?
I know that you’ll probably complicate the hell out of your answers, simply because that voice inside your head (yup I have one as well) will shout, impossible, give it up. Don’t listen, it’s hard, you’re not up to it…
Listen, can you hear it?
Self reliance is a learned skill. Making your money work hard for you is also a learned skill and one that has been understood by plenty of people before you.
Start practising and learning, you’ll be surprised.
Uncertainty – Government – Jobs – Globalisation – Brexit
The reason we all have to take money and business matters seriously is because of the uncertainty around our lives. Of course, there are some things that seem to be certain.
The continuing increase in house prices because the population is growing and we are not building enough.
The constant rise in taxation – as governments borrow more and more the debt has to be serviced. At the moment in the UK, the Government spend on servicing debt is about the same as the wages bill for the entire NHS. If you keep borrowing you need to get enough income to cover the cost of borrowing, that’s the same for Government.
The death of old industries and businesses; think BHS or Woolworths, Chinese Steel imports, Coal. Means we need to be more understanding of the change that is coming.
No matter where you look there is uncertainty, change. Part of this is driven by globalisation and the rise of the new economies in the east and south.
But with this uncertainty investment markets are volatile, they move up and down. With those movements you can time your investments to suit you. Buy cheap.
Every cloud eh. The fact is there is opportunity wherever you look.
With all of this happening to us and nearly all of these things being outside of our control we need to focus on what we can control and change. Market timing is one of these.
Of course houses are expensive, but that does not mean we should not work towards owning one, it’s never been easier to build and grow an investment portfolio or to save money by comparing suppliers of just about everything. Using this portfolio as a building block to support a property purchase makes sense.
Making long term decisions always wins over short term ones. You just need to do it.
Planning your business and finances is all about looking for opportunity and understanding what your options are and not just placing hard earned cash into the next shiny thing you find.
Automation and Jobs – The Future Of Work.
Being Financially Independent (FI) means you won’t be concerned when the business automation and driverless vehicles start to change the world.
We have already seen old style industries destroyed by the internet, automated tills at Tesco and the whole Brexit thing bringing its own challenges. All of this means that traditional work is changing, jobs your children will be doing probably don’t exist now. Work that you used to do probably doesn’t get done any more.
Change is always coming towards you and with technology driving things very quickly the pace of change is likely to be mind blowing for many.
But what if it didn’t matter what happened to the world of work, what if you could spend your time looking at investment opportunities in the new world, what if you have enough capital invested to help you fund the training you needed to take advantage of the new world?
Would you then worry about the future?
Financial independence allows you that kind of freedom.
How much money do you think you will need to become financially independent?
When I ask this question in seminars and workshops I get a range of random answers.
Most responses are in the tens of millions, sometimes billions; the fact is we need a lot less than we think we need. Let me put some facts on that.
To generate an income of around £21,187 (UK average wage after tax 2016 figures ) you will need a fund of around £430,000 or so (there are some variables within that), but actually if you do things in a slightly different way, you can achieve this level of income on a lot less capital.
Remember this, if you are no longer having to work full time, and don’t have travel and other work costs you can actually survive on a lot less.
I want you to know that the amount of money you actually need is probably a lot less than you think you’ll need and becoming FI is actually easily achievable by you in your lifetime.
Go read Alison Average again and think about what she could do differently, or get on the list firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may think that getting hold of £430,000 is presently outside of your skills or knowledge, and that maybe the truth now, but let me assure you it’s actually easier than you think.
It’s not only about the money.
It’s about freedom, it’s about knowing how to generate income. It’s about thinking differently about money and then finding out more so that you can be free.
Free of a boring job and free to live the life you want and it’s never been easier. As a race we have never worked longer hours, never worked harder. Hunter gatherers in the rainforests of world work a lot less than us in the west. Of course they don’t have to work for someone else which is one part of the answer.
Having worked with many rich people over the years I can assure you the common answer they all give is this when I ask them how they did it is this.
They say, make a plan, work the plan stay focused on it, and work hard,change the plan when required and eventually you end up wealthy. Maybe even rich.
Many of the super rich have ended up so because of a simple opportunity that arrived in their inbox and because they had some available cash; they could invest and this one opportunity provided the tipping point to true wealth.
The more research I’ve done the more this seems to be the case, one opportunity arrives. Often with another shortly behind and the next thing, financial independence appears. This frees up time which allows more time to research and focus.
Over the next few years a few more opportunities arise and that’s it. Boom. True wealth.
This connected world we live in today has made many things possible, things that our parents could never imagine are now with us and working for us provided we choose to use them.
Even if you are as young as fourteen it’s possible for you to make the sale of products through social media, list them on Ebay or maybe Amazon, Facebook marketplace.. Once you have a process for it, you just repeat it. That’s never been possible before in our parents or grandparents lifetimes.
Don’t accept the old school thinking – get an education, get a good job, work hard for forty years and retire. Those days are long gone.
Spending Less Than You Earn
I never said that these ideas would be complex, and this basic rule of financial management has been with us since the beginning of time – if you don’t spend less than you earn, you’ll never have any to invest.
With nothing to invest your future will never be better than your now!
Spending less than you earn is simple, provided you follow a few steps. Create a budget, be mindful about what and how you spend.
Every pound you earn has some value, once you pass on this pound to a.n other the value passes. They now have control of it.
Making sure you hang on to the money that you’ve exchanged valuable time for is one part of making sure you eventually end up with enough.
Remember that time is something you never get back.
Make sure you use this millionaire tip when buying anything.
Leave the buying decision for at least ten days after first realising the need to own or do something.
Top Money Principles
Tactics come and go, but timeless principles remain the same. With all of my business and personal clients I show them how to focus on and use only the things that fit with the basic principles.
They are important and they are all below.
Spend less than you earn and invest the rest
Invest in your education
Take a long term view
Invest for income
Allocate your asset – don’t put all of your eggs in one basket
Never invest for tax reasons alone
Use modern investment products
Invest on the dips and at no other time
Invest efficiently using an online platform/package/broker
Be aware of taxes and tax efficiency. Use allowances like Capital Gains Tax before pension investments.
Observe what everyone else is doing and do the opposite:
The masses spend what they don’t have, on stuff they don’t need, they don’t look to reduce costs, most don’t look to see what they can take advantage of.
There are now 715,000 millionaires living in the UK (source Guardian 2015/16) there are some 12 million, millionaires in the world.
Becoming wealthy is not complicated, plenty of people have done it before you. The facts, the evidence is all around you.
I have been wealthy and poor. Seen many of the hyped up instant solutions and followed the plans that the financial services industry wants you to follow – I guarantee you that they will never work, never give you control and never fully deliver. Simply because the plans they offer are flawed and not based on sound enough principles.
There isn’t a single financial adviser on the planet that can show you how to become wealthy, if there was they would be doing it for themselves.
Most advisers just show how to do the things they have been trained to do, and few are wealthy – if they were you’d never get an appointment to see one.
Becoming financially independent at an early age needs a very different approach, it’s a different journey.
Don’t think for one moment that I am trying to patronise or browbeat you. I just want you to know the truth and if it helps you move forward, then I have done what I wanted to do for you – move you forward.
If you want to get become financial independent then you simple need to do what financially independent people have done before you. That that starts with spending wisely.
Find a penny pick it up and all day you’ll have good luck, find enough pennies and you’ll end up with independence. The little starling that flies thousands of miles every year does so one wing beat at a time. You’d be wise to do the same.
Unable To Handle Money By Design
Since we first arrived as modern humans (probably around the 1900’s) we wanted independence. Independence from the landlord, independence from the market.
It’s not something we are taught by our parents or by the schools, it’ not something the Church thought it was right to do, very little in any religious books to explain how money works. Indeed most religions seem to treat money as something that is not good.
Yet religion seems to do pretty well out of money. The Vatican is said to worth around £10 billion, Church of England around £7 billion and the Mormon’s around £30 billion. Is there something the church doesn’t want to share.
In the UK and most of Europe during its long history it was only the wealthy and religious classes that were taught to read and write.
No surprise then that money management was not taught. Fuck, don’t the peasants have any of the secrets. No sir.
Indeed, the poor are busy trying to get through this day and the next with no eye on the future. Seems like most religions wanted to keep them that way and it seems to have worked.
Most religious organisations running food banks yet nothing (or little) seems to go on to really help people help themselves. I might be wrong on this but somehow doubt it. BTW – always happy to correct this, please get in touch if you know different.
Getting back to here and now. It’s really only this last century and probably since the 1930’s that money has been available to invest and save. Prior to that few had anything spare.
We all know how to grow plants and vegetables. It’s something our parents have done with us and something it’s easy to do, we know the process. In fact most of us could manage the basics of a farm quite easily. It’s knowledge that we have.
Investing in a pension is something that is not only boring – and it forces us to think about being close to death. But they are complicated, and made more so by the industry, people find it easy to walk into a Bookmakers or to put money on the Lottery. But invest, or make smart money choices – no sir!
We can all farm, or at least with some simple skills you can start to farm. Farming is about leverage, doing something once, checking and adjusting and finally reaping the rewards. Money is very similar.
Farming Our Way Forward
I like to incubate duck eggs, buying fertile eggs every March and hatching them) all you do is follow the process.
Buy the eggs, keep them warm, make sure they are kept the right way up. Twenty eight days after putting them in the incubator I have ducklings. Eggs are purchased at a pound each, ducklings are sold at £7.50 a pop. Every 28 days my money grows by 750%. I am a duck fiend – love having them around. Of course if I had more room, I have more.
Look I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love having ducklings in the house. I do something I really enjoy and it actually makes money – ok, not fortunes but…
Growing plants, like potatoes or cauliflower is something nearly all of us can do. Provided the soil has enough nutrients, and we keep the seeds watered, keep the weeds away – a few weeks after planting we have something we can eat.
Growing money follows identical principles. Decide, sow, titivate and wait. However, like nurturing a fruit tree, investing money correctly brings regular windfalls – income. The larger the tree grows the more fruit it brings. One tree, many crops.
I know that for reasons of education, many humans seem to never have enough money, can never earn enough. For some reason they seem not to understand or be able to comprehend how to get, keep and grow money.
But, as you have just read the simple farming analogy – it’s not complicated; you do need to know one end of a mower from another, and what a bag of seeds looks like. Once you know, it’s actually quite simple.
Many of us forget that, not so long ago we were not able to ride a bike, drive a car, manage teenagers. The list is endless, thousands of things we could not do, but now we can.
Making money work for you rather against you is a learned process. Importantly, once you know something then you know.
We have just not evolved enough yet to understand money, it’s a recent thing in our systems. The stock market, business, investing, tax are things that we just don’t understand naturally. But if you draw the comparison to farming you’ll start to notice some strong similarities.
That said once you start to get the basics – it all falls into place. It’s like farming.
Before the 1930’s few had money, certainly there was little need to be able to manage pensions or be concerned about income and or capital gains tax to any great extent. It’s changed, it’s a new world. A world that once you start to embrace is a great place to be.
Everything travels at the speed of light now. You can now look up interesting opinions online and make decisions to buy or sell immediately. At the speed of light and at low cost. Information that was once only available to a few is now available to all of us.
Information is not knowledge. It’s just information, my plan is to show you just how to use that information and to turn it into knowledge – which means you being able to take some action on it.
Financial freedom is waiting for you, all you need to is walk towards it.
There is enough money around for everyone, all you need do is claim your share.
For lot’s of reasons I nearly lost it all, because I thought someone cared, that someone had my best interests at heart, that they would look after me. I was wrong – and I don’t want anyone to make the same mistakes.
There is no happy ending unless you (and I) make it so, there is no Knight in Shining Armour riding a white charger down the high street. Said that before.
Just Find Yourself An Adviser – Then Do What He (or she) Says.
If only it was that easy, everyone of us would be rollin’ in it by now. Five minutes in front of an adviser, get a little plan together and off you go.
Yeah right. It’s never been that easy, and much of the industry is too busy lining it’s own pockets supported by the various regulators – that are all funded by a levy on the industry. There is a vested interest in keeping things broadly the same.
It’s the same over at Ofgem, the people that regulate the gas and electricity supply firms – every now and again they stamp their feet and fine a few firms, but in the main not much changes from year to year.
I knew (know) that the financial services industry was not doing the best it could for its customers. This is an industry that I have been part of for nearly thirty years, but in the last ten years or so the stars have aligned to make it so easy to take charge of your own financial future. All you need is some tips, tricks and assistance. Welcome on board.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
You may well have heard of that line before and not fully understood what it actually meant. I’ll nutshell it for you; if you invest in many different company shares or funds you lessen the risk of the investment collapsing on you.
Investing on one company share, means that if that business goes to the dogs, then your investment is worthless. If you invest in ten or twenty company shares and one goes under then you still hold the other investments.
Asset allocation is more important than your choice of fund or manager. By spreading your investment across a wide range of investments and geographical areas you spread your risk.
I helped create one of the first asset allocation tools for the adviser industry. A group of us sat down to consider carefully – what was the one thing that made more difference to investment performance than anything else.
Trust my assurances that this asset allocation feature is far more important than the choice of fund or fund manager, and more important than the individual share or adviser.
It may well be that you have some cash in the bank, own a home and have some pensions investments. It could be said that you are invested in cash, property and the stock market. And this is the start of asset allocation.
By spreading your investments across of all of the above, plus peer to peer, government bonds (often called Gilts) and then a range of stock market investments you build in safety.
You and I have no idea which market sector, which share, fund or other investment is going to up or down. Nor do those people in the marketplace who say they do. They are all guessing.
By investing in a wide range of investments you increase the chances of you making a ‘right’ investment, by investing for income there is a greater chance you’ll end up winning rather than losing.
Now, a typical stock market investment asset allocation looks something like this.
20% Fixed Interest
30% UK Equity Income
20% USA Equity Income
10% South America
Now, you and I have no idea which market is going to perform best. Yet we know that some markets are more volatile (go up and down) more than others. By spreading investments across a wide range of sectors and geography we spread our risk (asset allocation).
For those of you that have been on one of my workshops, you’ll understand a bit more about how effective these tools are.
By making sure you have allocated cash (having it in the bank – not invested) when the markets dip or fall you have cash available to invest is one of the ‘rich tricks’. Buy cheap!
From 2003 – 2007 your investment in the FTSE 100 index would have doubled in value if you invested on the dips.
Conversely had you purchased an investment via your adviser or broker without taking marketing timing (invest on the dips) into account your investment in the same index would have not have grown since October 2000 the last time the index got close to 7000.
Looking forward to recent movements, assuming a £1,000 investment on the dips and the highs (ignoring charges) you’d been more than ten percent better off.
By making a lump sum investment of £3,000 initially in September 2015 on the low in the index and based on a recent high you’d end up with a gain of just £269.
Buying low makes investment sense.
There are very few advisers that would have encouraged you to buy on the dips, and most of the regulatory guidance doesn’t mention it.
Some will talk about ‘pound cost averaging’ which they say solves the investment timing problem. It doesn’t. With the power of asset allocation working and using some of the modern online platforms it’s actually very easy to do.
Let me put it to you this way. If you knew the price of bread, new cars, houses were going to fall in value at some time in the future and you really wanted one. When would you buy? Would you buy now or would you wait?
The fact is everything has a price fluctuation, the key is you making a decision to invest at the right time. If you don’t need it now, then you don’t have to buy it now.
Importantly as a principle, this is one that will make you money over the longer term. 1% falls in the FTSE 100 index are regular, and the same applies to nearly all investment markets worldwide.
It’s not the only strategy you should use but one that makes a whole load of sense. These daily fluctuations in the overall value of the shares can and should be exploited.
As you can see from the charts, at the beginning of September 2013 it was below 6,000 and quickly rose to above 6200 and fell back again to 6000 odd. You could have invested at any of the lows and made some fairly quick profits.
By doing this consistently you will make more money than by investing passively. Provided you deal with your asset allocation correctly you’ll never have to worry.
The Problem With State Pensions.
Change is the only constant, if things don’t change they die. If bridges and buildings don’t swing and flex they break.
Pensions have changed dramatically in recent years and since self employed pensions were introduced in the 1970’s (these were the forerunner of the personal pensions we have today) much has happened.
We are living longer and pensions were originally designed to cope with five to eight years of life expectancy after retirement and now we are living for twenty or more years after retirement.
Because of this the State Pension has been forced to change, retirement ages are now moving towards our 70’s.
For those of you born from 1975 onwards will see your State Pension reduced dramatically. For those of you born later than 1951 you have already seen a reduction in your pension by being forced to draw it later.
State Pension Forecast Form
This is the form required for you to get a State Pension Statement (Forecast). Drop me an email if you can’t find one and I’ll help you out. Get yours submitted as soon as.
Personal Pension Information Request.
This is a document to send to your pension provider(s) in order to get a pension statement plus a little more important information. I know you’ll be surprised when you get the figures back.
Probably the best tenner you’ve ever spent. Don’t even worry about getting stuck, just get in touch and I’ll help you through it.
The document and calculator will highlight where you can save many tens of thousands of pounds in pension charges – most older plans have charges of at least 2.5% per year (x 10 years that’s 25% of your fund gone in charges) now you see why it’s important.
More On Pension Freedom
The cynic in me initially thought that these changes were introduced to increase the level of income tax generated and to provide a boost to the economy as pension funds were accessed early.
Two years on I still think that, but have changed my mind slightly. The biggest winners are the insurance providers and pension scheme managers who have now have a bit more control over your money and for a longer period of time.
Pension Freedom contracts tend to have higher charges than conventional pensions.
If you are at the age where you can start drawing on your pensions then my thinking is you probably should.
That’s not advice it’s just me saying that having invested funds outside of pensions is probably better for you than inside them.
You just need to make sure you are not triggering high tax charges and penalties just to free yourself of the pension.
Importantly if there is any form of guarantee within your present plans or you are a member of a defined benefit pension scheme (sometimes called final salary) then you will need to do some more comparisons before making a final decision. Rule of thumb, if you have guaranteed benefits within your pension you’ll probably be better off leaving it there.
Broadly speaking pension freedom is a good thing, but charges are a problem.
Free On Friday
So I have this idea. It’s a bit – well out there.
It’s this. Assuming we agree that capitalism isn’t working for many, and we are all time short.
And, we also accept that the planet we live on, the one we rent for eighty years or so is getting a bit fucked over. Cos of historic economic policies etc etc.
Importantly, none of the present systems (worldwide, really Friday. By making your money work hard for you, by spending mindfully, by making sure that you had assets that produced income do you think that we’d get enough of an improvement so that working on a Friday was optional.
I know it’s easily achievable. What about, us taking two of those Fridays per month and commit to blogging about issues that affect us, to lobby our local MP’s and to raise the issues with local councillors, or use the time to educate our youngsters in the new way of thinking about money. New ways to think about our environment, to take responsibility and to be accountable for our own actions.
Do you think we can make a difference – do you think we can change the world, do you think we could make others listen. And at the same time improve our own lives dramatically.
See working towards being financially independent means that we’ll learn some things, things that will improve our lot. With money freedom we’ll also get a bit more time to play with.
With that time we can take up the cause.
If we don’t, this little world of ours is fucked. If we don’t we don’t then big business, big data, the politicians have won. All we’ll have left is to do as we are told.
See, money freedom is important. You can’t change the world without it – but while you are working, nose to stone as it feels you’ll never be free, independent in mind of finances.
I am firmly of the view, the reason schools don’t teach the truth about money is because they don’t want us to know, don’t want us to be free, don’t want us kicking back – it goes against the status quo – with Westminster, BIG data, big Pharma, big housebuilders, big banks all need us in our place or it doesn’t work for them.
Just being free from consuming, just being free from having to work gives us control – allows us freedom to do what we know is right.
Of course you don’t have to take up the cause with me, but now you know how it’s all really stacking up against us – I think you’ll want to.
Why do think there are no enough houses being built, why do you think Council Tax has not been reformed, why do you thing the over 60’s are treated better by the tax system than the under 30’s – why Buy to Let investors can borrow more money pro rata than individuals – I’m not a conspiracy theory kinda guy – but something is not right.
It’s not only the ENVIRONMENT it’s the whole environment.
Keeps you poor
Lack of financial skills keeps you poor.
More BONUS MATERIAL
State Pension Changes – Pension Charges (ad-nauseum)
I go on and on about this subject because it’s important, the employed, self employed – workers; are being royally screwed by an industry and regulators that don’t care.
1995 and the Pensions Act of the same year gave us a number of changes, one of which was the equalisation of State Pension ages – making boys and girls retire at the same age, eventually.
Of course the changes were blamed on EU law but the truth is everyone knew that there was not enough money to keep the pension system afloat.
The Government of the time was helped through the changes by simply stating – ‘it’s not our fault, the EU made us do it.’
Not sure about you, but I was 34 at the time. Heavily into building my career as a financial adviser, and was about to add my first child to the family – and of course any increase to the State Pension would not affect me for some 31 (thirty one years) so nothing to worry about!
More change arrived a few years later in 2007 when the State Pension Age was further increased to 68 (I can see a trend coming here), and again in 2011 in the Pensions Bill there were further changes made.
Edit – Guess what, it’s July 2017. Summer recess for Government arrives and the announcement is that we’ve been shafted again and can’t discuss it until late September because Parliament is off for the summer. Utter, utter bastards.
Like you, I was not concerned about these increases then; far too young and with a range of other priorities like a mortgage and getting my two children through their education, at the same time trying to hold a marriage together – pensions could wait.
As I hit my mid fifties, the pressures changed as they do for us all. It’s more about planning a few more weeks away from the office, rather than concentrating on the hussle and bussle of business life. This of course has given me some more thinking time, and I have realised that – – I have been royally shafted and it doesn’t feel nice.
Here’s The Story.
Despite the politicians of all colours telling us we have never had it so good or that a little austerity is a good thing – it’ll reduce spending.
State Pension Age Changes – have cost me over £15,000 in lost income and my wife over £12,000 as they have moved my pension age to 68 with no compensation, for us it’s a £27,000 grab.
How much have they cost you? My thinking is you probably don’t know. It’s the Ostrich syndrome most people have when it comes to longer term planning – fingers crossed it will be alright in the end.
Our minds can’t cope with stuff that is so far off and Government exploits that and then with our short term memory – we tend to forget.
Obviously something had to give as there is not enough National Insurance coming in to pay pensions, we are living longer and therefore retired for longer. This was spotted in the late 1980’s, it ain’t new.
By the way, there is no pot of National Insurance in order to pay pensions, it’s a pay as you go service.
Expect this trend to continue.
If you are reliant on your State Promise (Pension) expect it to be reduced even further. It’s been on it’s way down for the last thirty years or so, a fair bet is that this trend will continue. Something about one of Isaac Newton’s Laws springs to mind, forgotten it?
Newton’s First Law
every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force
Government is pushing hard on pensions and they will move and are likely to stay in motion.
Pension Freedom arrived. Another little gift for advisers and the pension industry. Of course if you are are a pension provider or adviser you’d want more pensions and they have certainly got that.
No matter what you try and do with your pension pot, someone else maintains control of it and charges you for the privilege.
If you have what they call ‘safeguarded’ benefits of more than £30,000 it’s another nice gift to the industry because you are forced by law to take advice from a suitably authorised adviser – and there are not enough to go around. The industry has collapsed in recent years.
This special breed of adviser, that you are forced to use can charge what they like. I have recently been quoted 10% of my fund in order for one of these advisers to give me some advice.
Given that you can do nothing about it, if you want the ‘freedom’ you have to pay it does seem more than little unfair.
Ongoing Charges – with modern investment management tools making changes to your pension investments is simple – point and click in the main so why all the ffin’ charges?
Despite the changes in the marketplace, with online and low cost providers – advisers still get favourable treatment in relation to VAT on their services (exempt) and chunk of your pension fund every year for what they call – ongoing management.
Can you imagine using a Solicitor to purchase your house (still far more complex than the setting up of a pension) and the firm coming back every year to take a small slice of the current value – and you not being fully aware of it being taken and the Solicitor not having to raise an invoice for it?
I doubt you get a pension statement every year that shows in big letters on the front of the statement – ACME ADVISERS HAVE BEEN PAID £x FOR THEIR SERVICES.
What you do get is a paragraph on page seven of eleven stating the charge in eight point font, the larger the fund, the older you are likely to be and the more chance your macular degeneration would have stopped you being able to read it.
Auto Enrolment another gift for the industry “Mandatory Pension Contributions” with fixed charges and no guarantees of anything.
No matter how bad the investment returns are, no matter how bad the administration standards are, the provider still gets paid. And they make you jump through ‘burning admin hoops’ if you dare want to move YOUR cash. And still the industry crows on about the efficiency of pensions which is a myth.
It was Steve Webb – the only pensions minister to really tell the truth about pensions, he stated that “pensions are tax deferred savings” not tax free.
Of course there may be some tax breaks, but they are just that breaks. Eventually someone has to pay tax on pension benefits drawn from any pension. If not now then whenever. This of course guarantees a return of at least some pension to the Government via income tax, in return for the tax breaks Government seems to be rewarded very nicely thank you.
No risk and close to a guaranteed return, without even having to cover any of the costs of the investment. What Else? Well our former man in the Treasury has been on rant for a few months about charges.
Indeed George Osborne announced reviews into Pension Charges.
However another of Newton’s Laws is in play here, if there is no force on an object it doesn’t move. It’s a law. Nothing has changed yet, no force on it. The providers retort is simple – there are contractual obligations. Utter bastards.
Something every regulator has known since regulation. Don’t expect things to change any time soon, well not to benefit policyholders – these are businesses remember.
I have never met anyone who thought that locking hard earned cash away for 40 years or more was a good plan to become rich, and certainly not one that was dipped for charges every few days.
Despite a good run at things successive governments have not made pensions work for the masses, of course they make sense as a planning exercise, but not as an investment vehicle, not as they are.
If you are a teacher, work in local government or are an MP your situation is a bit different.
Under the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) The taxpayer picks up the liability of your valuable guaranteed pension.
The current liability (to be funded by you and I) is £194,838 million based on the last accounts (14/15) and it’s running costs are in the region of £61 million for the same year.
The Teachers Pension Scheme is also an interesting one. With an unfunded liability of some £200bn (that’s right billion) according to the accounts in 2012 (can’t find any later ones). It’s clear that the money to fund all of this has to come from somewhere, just don’t delude yourself it won’t be you, the probability is that it will.
Pensions Four Things You Should Do Today
Since I left the regulated financial services industry in 2010 things have changed a lot, but the industry really doesn’t want you to know that.
I have a Pension Resource Pack available if you want to uncover the truth about your pensions. This pack covers some important points about your pensions and includes a number of templates and action steps, so you can find out the truth.
Journal – if you don’t write things down you’ll never know.
The most successful people I know use one these every morning. Be fluid with it every day. Just write what’s on your mind.
Use it in ninety day pulses which means you are planning for three months at time.
Write something daily, clear your mind. Dump the head trash. If something is bugging you write it down, that should quieten the chimp – it thinks you are going to do something about it. Now it’s written down it doesn’t need to remind you.
Set some plans for the coming quarter, write these in the journal. Things you need/want to achieve.
Have a couple, sell ten products, get an email list of twenty, build a targeted social media presence.
Write these down in the journal, look at them every day and then create some action around them; three things maybe, and then do them. The first few hours of every day( or at least an hour) should be working for you and on not in the business, promise you’ll thank me for that.
Every Sunday, do your homework. Review the journal from the past six days, what happened, how much did you get done, how much changed? Plan for the week ahead.
This whole goal setting thing is also bollocks.
Everyone is told, think big, make a long term plan. Problem with that is our minds are wired very differently, and it want’s a fix now. Somewhere in the middle is a nice balance. 90 days would be an example.
I firmly believe that we are all river people, drifting from one island to another, yeah the eye is on the sea but for the minute let’s have a look around here.
There are no right answers for your business, no one size fits all which is why I offer a full done with you service along with the consultancy and planning options.
I suggest that you now get over to www.therichardsmith.com or www.thefinancezone.co.uk
and leave your email address, or fire off an email to email@example.com so you can have the future insights immediately along with the rest of the valuable stuff I share out over there.
Whatever happens I wish you will with your life and your business. Stay cool eh and stop wasting time.
You are gonna die and sooner than you think.
All Rights Reserved 2018 © 2018 Richard Smith
Pension Flexibility Notes
Death Benefit Taxation from .gov.uk
If the individual dies before they reach the age of 75, they will be able to give their remaining defined contribution pension to anyone as a lump sum completely tax free, if it is in a drawdown account or uncrystallised.
The person receiving the pension will pay no tax on the money they withdraw from that pension, whether it is taken as a single lump sum, or accessed through drawdown.
Anyone who dies with a drawdown arrangement or with uncrystallised pension funds at or over the age of 75 will also be able to nominate a beneficiary to pass their pension to.
The nominated beneficiary will be able to access the pension funds flexibly, at any age, and pay tax at their marginal rate of income tax.
There are no restrictions on how much of the pension fund the beneficiary can withdraw at any one time. There will also be an option to receive the pension as a lump sum payment, subject to a tax charge of 45%.
Government Brochure – Pension Changes
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