Pete Matthew, the creator of Meaningful Money

Fortnightly financial five minutes #21 Pete Matthew

Nigel Yeates, Communications and Stakeholder Business Partner, speaks to Pete Matthew, Creator, Meaningful Money about financial education and achieving financial goals.

Please can you tell us about your background and

I joined the industry in the way most people did 25 years ago, via the sales arm of an insurance company, in my case the CIS. The job involved collecting life, house and car insurance premiums from existing customers from their homes and of course, selling new policies as I went. I hated it, though I think I'd be fairly good at it now. After a stint with another insurance company, I became an IFA, mostly doing life insurance business off the back of mortgage advisers in the same firm.

Then my Cornish wife felt the call home, so we moved from South Wales to Penzance to raise our kids and I worked for a firm of solicitors in their financial advice department. I represented 100% of the employees in that department, and it was a steep learning curve, doing everything from the client facing stuff to the admin, and also learning lots about investment and estate planning. In the end, I closed it down for them and moved to my current home, Jacksons, in 2005, becoming a shareholder director in 2007. We're a team of 19 now, and life is busy, but brilliant.

Back in 2010 I decided to start messing around with videos and editing software and needed a subject. I chose what I knew - personal finance - and started explaining to the camera how ISAs worked, etc. I switched to mostly podcasts in 2012 and it is that medium that blew things up for me. Now, millions of views and downloads later, Meaningful Money is a thriving business in its own right, plus the primary source of new enquiries to Jacksons.

You describe Meaningful Money as a financial education project. Why is financial education so important for everyone?

We're taught next-to-nothing about money in schools, so our financial behaviour depends very much on the lessons we learn from our upbringing. In my case, those lessons were non-existent, and I was terrible with money up to and including getting married. It took my ever-patient wife Joanne to teach me some decent financial control and get us on an even keel.

I sometimes think we'd rather talk about anything else than money. It's a taboo subject in so many ways, and yet it's essential to living well in a world which (like it or not) is driven by economics. I tend to focus on basic financial skills and navigating the personal finance system; I leave the penny-pinching and coupon-cutting stuff - which is also essential - to those content creators who are much better at that.

I think we need to bridge the gaps in people's financial understanding at different points in time and in different places. I'd like to see much better education in schools and particularly tertiary education - that final bridge before joining the world of work and real money. I'd also like to see financial education offered in the workplace. For me, I'm doing my bit by using the internet to reach as many people as possible.

You create podcasts, videos, and blogs. Which topics have you seen the most engagement on in recent months?

My audience skews male and middle-aged - I wonder why?! So, I tend to get the most engagement on topics around planning for retirement, the lifetime allowance (but that ship has sailed now!), investment in retirement and subjects like that. I keep things simple and find that this attracts younger people with fairly complex situations, often high earners with multi-layered remuneration systems. These folks are working every hour God sends but earning a fortune. They know they can only stick it out for so long, so they want to make the best of the opportunity they've been given.

What would be your most common tips for consumers to achieve their financial goals?

Simplify relentlessly - we all build up too many pots, an incoherent investment approach, insurance policies that don't really serve our current needs and we rarely review what we've got. Keeping things simple makes it easier to engage with your money, making it more likely that you'll do so, instead of putting it off.

Be intentional - nothing good happens by accident. Olympic champions don't roll out of bed onto the podium - they work hard for years. If you want to win with money, you need to decide to do it and follow through on your decision. Learn, then implement - continuously.

Watch out for costs - costs compound as much as growth. Every pound you spend in costs (including tax) is a pound that cannot compound for your future, so guard your costs religiously. Most people do not need a financial adviser, and definitely not one that just sits on your money and has a chat with you once a year. Demand value at all levels of your finances, from advice to platform and wrapper costs to investment charges and insurance premiums.

Now, on a more personal note, if £10,000 landed in your lap tomorrow, what would you do with it?

Book a holiday, for sure - probably to New York. I'm sure I'm supposed to say something like 'pay down my mortgage,' or 'put it in my pension,' but I'm doing all those things, so if ten grand landed in my lap unexpectedly, I'd put it to good use by enjoying it thoroughly. You only live once, and life is short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so live for today while still planning for tomorrow.

Thanks very much Pete for your time and those useful tips.

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