I have been involved with the financial services Industry for over 45 years. I started my career at age 17 when I joined the Westminster Bank (for those of you old enough to remember!!) which later merged with the National Provincial Bank in 1968 to become known as the National Westminster Bank or as many would say - NatWest. (Those were the good old days!!)
My retirement came at an extremely challenging time, because it coincided with the beginning of the world's financial crisis in 2007 that started first, with the collapse of the Icelandic banking system and then spreading rapidly through the US banking system and to the rest of the world. The events that followed seemed to grow more and more out of all proportion to anything that I had previously seen in the industry and quite frankly became a major SHOCK both to my system and for most of my clients. It seemed that people were questioning the validity of almost every financial product that they had previously taken for granted – and even distrusting the stability of the Banks!
It was because of these unprecedented events that I felt compelled to get underneath and understand what had really happened to cause this huge calamity and why financial systems that had seemed to have been pretty steady had now become so unhinged, leaving clients in utter turmoil.
Little did I realise that I was embarking upon a depth of study that many of my friends said was almost the equivalent of doing a five year degree course! The discoveries made during this time have amazed and perplexed me and it has changed the whole way I think about money and investment.
Having been a financial adviser for the past 30 years, it was surprising to discover in carrying out this research, how little I have previously totally understood about how our world monetary system or world markets really function. My only saving grace has been to also discover that other so called financial experts, (including the former Chairman of the Financial Services Authority appear to have come to the same conclusion as quoted by Lord Adair Turner at the recent Cambridge Economic Forum debate when he was asked WHO was to blame for this world financial calamity. He answered that after many years in top jobs 'I was slowly waking up to what had happened'. Currently we have those who were responsible for this almighty mess now responsible for trying to sort it out.
At age 30, I left the banking industry to join an Insurance company where I was involved with marketing and sales and over the next 30 years I gained considerable experience in many different roles within the financial services industry. Eventually I set up and ran my own financial planning company and later became a director of a larger financial services company with the aim of providing a quality financial planning service to private and corporate clients. In 2008, I finally retired as a regulated adviser to take up other interests but have since continued to give non-regulated financial advice on a limited basis to friends and colleagues.
'We are now living in unprecedented times and it is clear that we will all need to make some major adjustments to the way we think about money and the way we live'.
We are only at the BEGINNING of this World Financial Crisis