Sunday, 25 May 2014

Knowing My Financial DNA

Awareness remains a core pillar of personal development. So I was intrigued to see what insights would come to the surface when I looked into my Financial DNA. Hugh Massie’s programme is all about “discovering your unique financial personality for a quality life”. 

It’s really about becoming more aware of your blind spots and behavioural dynamics that are either holding you back or moving you forward financially. It’s packaged as primarily a tool for personal finance but, boy, it’s a real eye opener for how you look at life in general.

So what did I find out? Well, according to insights outlined in my ‘Natural Behaviour Discovery’ assessment, I am by nature a Community Builder. It says I’m all about cooperation and harmony, while being easy going, receptive, uncomplaining and forgiving. My ‘Strengths’ within this context are that I’m satisfied with the status quo, I’m focused on a balanced life, I’m approachable, I want to create a steady environment, and I allow open dialogue. Yep, I kind of assumed a fair bit of that so I’m not going to question it.

What intrigued me more, however, were what were termed as my ‘Struggles’ (or ‘Weaknesses’ to you and me). These showed that I was prone to complacency, prone to stay in my comfort zone, and that I may not set boundaries. 

Although my initial reaction was a mixture of annoyance and denial, it wasn’t long before I actually felt some relief. I’ve always talked about the concept of “growth”, whether that’s to do with personal finance or broader life itself, but have often struggled to make inroads.
Deep down I knew some of these issues all along but I was always willing to ignore, excuse or blame instead of address. It’s not that I’ll be able to change my behaviours overnight. Not much hope of that. 

But now that it’s out there in front of me on a printed piece of paper, with my name on it, I can actually stop pretending and can start using tools and strategies to make it easier for these areas to be less limiting. So whether we’re talking about finance or some other strand of your developmental story, this assessment provides an interesting insight.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Money: Kids Will Be Kids

I sometimes wonder whether the “what do I want to be when I grow up?” conversations that kids have now are really much changed from a generation or two ago. You’ll still have the aspiring doctors, lawyers, teachers and the like. You’ll also have those dreaming to make it big in the realms of sports and music. Some will always be in it for the glory. But I also think that an increasing number of kids, for whatever reason, are caught up by the allure of the dollar signs. Let's face it, it's not hard to find role models, good and bad, that represent the fame and fortune associated with these fields.

When I was growing up there wasn’t much money to be had in football. At the end of their careers footballers would retire and just open a country pub, not try to buy a football franchise in the US. Rugby and athletics were all about the glory of performing as amateurs, not signing huge contracts with benevolent French rugby clubs or winning gold bars for a successful athletics season. And while there was always something aspirational within the music scene (think: Duran Duran hanging out on a catamaran in their video for ‘Rio’), music was never as graphic in its depiction of the necessity for fast cars, bling and a ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ culture.
But it is what it is and you can't try to hold back the tide just because you're from a different generation. Still, in my eyes there's a clear need to embed strong personal finance principles into the education system from an early age so that kids can establish a healthy relationship with money. Promoting an awareness, as highlighted by recent efforts by the Charles Schwab Foundation to teach basic financial literacy to 13 to 18 year olds, should hopefully be just a first step to future generations becoming more cognizant with handling their personal finances.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

It's A Lottery

According to a recent survey commissioned by Liverpool Victoria Insurance, something like 3.6 million people in the UK are relying on winning the UK national lottery to fund their retirement. That’s a lot of people pinning their personal finance hopes on the concept of possibility (and an unlikely one at that) rather than building better probabilities for their future. 

Coincidentally, according to, 5% of lottery ticket buyers buy 51% of all tickets sold in the US. But we can't all be like Joan Ginther, a Texan woman that won four lottery jackpots.

Just as scary was the number of people who were hoping to finance their future on the chance of becoming famous. About 10% of the people in the Liverpool Victoria survey were sure that they would find the fame to bring the fortune. 

Pinning your hopes on unlikely outcomes aren’t a great way to manage your risk-reward picture, even if there are books that have strategies on how to win. While the solutions might seem a tad misplaced, the reality is there are a great deal of people that are too scared, confused or overly complacent to find suitable answers to the prevailing questions – what do I need for my retirement and how am I going to get there?  

Sometimes you just need a bit of nudging and guidance, whether it's from a good friend or even through a financial coach.

Regularly putting aside money in savings and investment plans may not have the whizz-bang excitement of seeing your six numbers come up on lottery night or winning the X Factor but, quite frankly, taking the boring route to securing your financial future is going to be a hell of a lot more reliable.