Updated: Dec 23, 2019
I have been in and around the financial service sector the whole of my working life and indeed studied Commerce and Economics at school, so I guess that that shapes my view on matters but I have never understood why personal finance seems to be so low on everyone’s agenda. I have many friends and colleagues that are very intelligent and have high powered jobs – some even in finance – and yet seem content to totally ignore something that actually impacts on absolutely every aspect of their lives.
Money really does matter! Whilst it cannot buy you happiness, the lack of it really can lead to misery and hardship. Ask yourselves how much you actually know about the following:
Do you have a pension? How and where is it invested?
Do you have any cash saving and when did you last check the interest rate?
Are these savings an ‘emergency reserve’ or for something specific such as a house?
Do you have any shares or collective investments such as unit trusts?
What is your attitude to risk?
Do you use an Independent Financial Advisor (IFA)?
Do you have a will?
I am always amazed by the number of people that either say ‘er, what’s that’ or ‘I have no idea what you are talking about’. Ideally everyone should be able to answer each of those questions with a ‘yes’ and at least a basic understanding.
One of the reasons that I hear for people not having any knowledge of their finances is that it is boring. And it is certainly true that each and every one of us has different priorities in life and how to spend our money, but with just a little knowledge and forward planning we can each have a very major impact, not only on the cash that we have now but, much more importantly, how comfortable we will be later on in life.
It was Albert Einstein that said “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world… he who understands it, earns it… he who doesn’t, pays it”. The only thing wrong with this statement is that this applies every bit as much to ‘she’ as to ‘he’. What this actually means is that if you get interest on your interest or dividends on your dividends then this is worth so much more. And to put this in to context, Scottish Widows (an investment company) has calculated different outcomes for £100 invested in 1950 and what it was worth in 2016. If this £100 was put in a UK building society and left untouched it would have been worth only £5,519 (inflation would have taken the £100 to be £3,134) but if it was put in equities this would have been worth £10,749 if you had taken the dividends. But the real shock for most people is that if you had not taken any dividends during that time the value would be a massive £184,494. That is, the compounding has made growth 17x more!
Now do you start to find this topic more interesting?
So in simple terms it is extremely important that everyone has at least a basic understanding of the importance of personal savings, and that everyone actually starts to save as soon as possible, as the powers of compounding can make all the difference to your comfort in future years.
But it is important that any savings portfolio is spread and the risk is diversified in order to reduce any risks.
We will explore many of the questions that I asked at the beginning of this article in the coming weeks so make sure that you look out for my future articles here.
Kevin R Smith, Kevin R Smith, CEO at BOOM & Partners is an entrepreneur and a business and finance consultant with over 35 years’ experience in helping entrepreneurs and directors to grow their businesses. He is a Mentor at the UK's largest Entrepreneur Accelerator and has broad experience in all sectors, and has particular strengths in Women in Business, and Fintech, and partners business owners on their journeys. Nothing in the above article is intended as a recommendation but simply his opinion on what readers should be thinking about.