What I’ve Learnt From 20 Years In Financial Services

This month marks my 20 years working in the financial services sector. As a fresh-faced graduate I knew I wanted to live and work in London and that I didn’t want to go into sales, but in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 opportunities were limited. So, when an interview with Standard Life came up, even though I didn’t know what a pension or ISA was, I decided to go along.

I must have said the right things because I was offered the job which, despite my intention not to go into sales, was selling Standard Life’s pension and investment products. A career in financial services certainly wasn’t an ambition of mine, and although I made some great friends, I can’t say I enjoyed that first job. However, it has proven to be an important stepping stone into a career from which I get a lot of satisfaction, enjoyment and fulfilment.

I have learnt a lot over the past two decades, much of which I try to share with you through these newsletters and other communications. However, much of what I have learnt has been tacit, which as I reflect now I would list as follows:

  • Despite looking complex, financially, as in life, often the most appropriate course of action is the simplest one.
  • Our actions (or inactions) can be more detrimental to our wealth than anything that is happening economically.
  • We tell ourselves stories about money and life that influence our behaviours and attitudes towards it. Often, negatively.
  • Money is the means to the end rather than the end itself. It provides us with the opportunity to do what we want when we want. Fools chase it, misers horde it, the wise understand it.
  • The quality of our relationships is worth more than all the money in the world. Ergo, it’s better to be poor and surrounded by people you love and who love you than rich and lonely.
  • That voice in our head that tells us we can’t/shouldn’t do something is trying to keep us safe but works to a different agenda. To grow and develop we must learn to say to it “thanks for thinking of me, but I’ve got this. We’ll be fine.”.
  • It’s better to have risked and failed than never risked at all.
  • There is little in life you can control other than your actions and reactions. Spend your time on the inputs and let the outcomes take care of themselves.
  • Nobody became rich overnight. It takes a combination of patience, discipline and positive actions repeated daily.
  • Success requires luck, but often it isn’t clear what the lucky break was until many years after the fact.
  • When we look back on our lives we will regret the things we didn’t do more than the things we did do.
  • Life IS the event, not the training for it so make the most of it. Live don’t exist (regardless of your age).

I don’t know what the next 20 yrs has in store but I’m excited to find out.



Photo by Shiromani Kant on Unsplash