One million financial free Brits: Will you be one?

I remember the days before smartphones, before ‘feature phones’, before ‘cellular phones’. These were the days of a rotary dial telephone.

I’m sure you remember them well also. It was a time when the internet didn’t even exist. At least, not outside of government research departments.

A time when you wanted to ‘channel surf’ on the TV meant getting up off your backside and turning the channel dial and standing there until your Dad was satisfied with what was on.

There was no cable TV. Streaming (obviously due to the lack of internet) wasn’t a thing, wasn’t even a dream yet. Music was played on CD players and that alone was highly futuristic.

And the only ‘social’ thing about ‘media’ was talking about what happened on last night’s episode of ALF.

Now I’m not that old. In fact I only turned 36 a month ago. But the late 80’s seems like an eternity ago. That kind of time frame is hard to wrap your head around. And so are the changes we’ve seen during that three-decade period.

I’ve mentioned a few of these above, and for good reason.

You see, the world changes rapidly. And every year in our high-tech, connected, modern world it seems like things take another giant leap forward.

It makes it incredibly hard to predict what the next 30 years looks like. And to be honest, there will be so much change that in 30 years we’ll talk about today like today we talk about the late 80’s.

Now if that’s the case then you have to ask yourself, what are you doing about it?

The easy thing to do, and the thing most people do is just go with the flow. They live week to week, payday to payday. They never really give consideration to the future.

They maybe think about a year or two ahead, but 30 years? Not on your life. Too far away.

Yet in the blink of an eye 30 years pass and they still live week to week, payday to payday.

Meanwhile there are others who live in the present, but also keep one eye on the future. These people put into place appropriate strategies to maximise their living standards today, but also set in place long term plans for the future.

They know that the right, smart strategy today can pay off massively in the future. In fact, done correctly, small, simple, easy to implement strategies today can turn them into a millionaire in the not-too-distant future.

The things is, and this is going to be really hard for the average person to consider, everyone has a chance to be a millionaire.

Laugh at that if you will. Dismiss it as fanciful if you must. But dismiss this possibility and you’re almost certainly destined to a future of mediocrity.

While the world changes, there’s one thing that doesn’t change.

Opportunity. More specifically investment opportunity.

Today is yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s opportunity

Back in the 80’s and 90’s there were opportunities for you to invest in the future we live in today. Companies that small amount invested would have delivered thousands of percent in returns over the years.

But the average person never finds let alone invests in these opportunities. Some of these are well known, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft the real giants of technology.

And hindsight is a wonderful thing. But hindsight doesn’t have to be in vain. You can use hindsight to your advantage.

Why is it the average person thinks they’re not capable of being wealthy? What is it that makes people think, it’ll never happen to me – yet the number of people that continue to participate in the National Lottery grows every year.

People are happy to ‘roll the dice’ on overnight riches, but regularly refuse to make small sacrifices today to build wealth, perhaps millions long term with an easy and smart strategy.

The chance to be wealthy and the chance to mint yourself a million long term is here, ripe for the taking. But so many people don’t take it. Won’t take it.

One reason is because it’s not instantaneous. What I’m talking about takes discipline and a multi-year long strategy. It simply doesn’t happen overnight.

And if people can’t have it now, many don’t want it at all. But who doesn’t want to be wealthy in life? No poor person ever said they didn’t wish they had more money.

Another reason is that the ‘rich snobbery’ mentality gives people an excuse out of doing something meaningful.

“Rich people are snobs anyway. Why would I want to be one of those?

Or what about,

I wasn’t born wealthy. I’ll never be wealthy.”

If you’ve ever heard a friend say that… get new friends. That’s just not the case. That’s a mentality that leads to mediocracy and dependence on the state.

It’s the kind of mentality poor people have. It’s the kind of mentality of a system that leads the average person down the garden path into believing they’ll always be mediocre.

It’s just not the reality of the opportunities that exist in today’s world for everyone to grasp.

It’s a mentality that must be broken to smash the shackles of the state and break free from the herd mentality of the average person on the street.

Change is possible

I truly believe the capacity to lead millions of people in the UK to financial freedom starts with education.

A big part of people’s acceptance of financial mediocracy is a lack of education.

People loosely know about investment. They know about companies they use and encounter every day. But to actually go and invest money in these companies, these opportunities, is a step too far for most.

That’s because I feel the education system doesn’t give personal finance the importance it deserves. And that’s why I’m on a mission to change the status quo.

Every child once they exit secondary education should know about personal finance with the same capacity they know about English, maths, science or any other statutory subject on the national curriculum. At present financial education is a non-statutory subject. That means there is no pressure for schools to teach it. The majority don’t.

That’s not good enough. Financial illiteracy is one of the biggest problems facing society today. If you want to start to close the wealth gap, then we need to educate generations and generations to come about how to function and succeed financially as adults.

If you want to know more, head to my petition to Add ‘Personal Finance’ as a statutory subject to the UK National Curriculum.

A big part of achieving this is to help people break their routine. It’s easy to get to payday, then use your newly minted bank account to offload some debts, pay some bills and then blow the lot on the here and now.

Then a simple rinse repeat process next payday.

The hard thing to do is to take just a small portion of that income and then set it aside into a long term investment so that one day, in 10, 20, 30 years’ time, you’re sitting on your own personal fortune.

A fortune that consists of investments today that turn into our future tomorrow. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually ridiculously easy to put this strategy into play.

And the government even tries (believe it or not) to help people as much as they can by making it so easy and attractive from a tax perspective, you’d be bonkers to not take it up.

What’s so crazy about it all is that only around one-in-eight people actually put this simple no-brainer strategy into play.

What is this strategy you ask? Well it’s pretty simple…

When a baby has a better strategy than you do

Obviously back in the late 80’s we also didn’t have messaging services like WhatsApp.

Thankfully we do today. I use it regularly. It’s handy because I can easily manage several group chats with friends and family all over the world.

One group chat involves myself and a friend who’s an economist and my brother. It’s always full of charts, graphs, reports, political, economic and financial discussion. One day I should collate all our conversations and make a book of it…

But for now I want to share a thread with you that typifies what smart people do for long term wealth strategies. This isn’t to boast, gloat or anything like that. It’s to demonstrate the simplicity of what I’m talking about and the fact it’s never too early to start.

Also that these are the conversations you need to have with your friends and family. This is what needs to become part of your language. When this becomes a normal WhatsApp discussion it becomes a part of your entire motivations for tomorrow.

My thread below began with a request for themes and trends that are ripe for investing today and that will impact the world longer term, both good and bad. This came off the back of a discussion about investing for our kids and me explaining to them how I’d started a Junior ISA for my eight-month-old son.

(Note: I’ve redacted some names and amounts just for privacy sake)

“As the older statesman of this group I really like the thinking here. Can I encourage the following. From day one when both my boys were born I took a small chunk out of my fortnightly salary and chucked it in a trading account. At the end of each month regardless of where prices were I bought shares based on macro themes. [My son] is 5 next week and has a $    K share portfolio. His brother similarly pro rata. Start the habit. Invest in quality stocks. Second to that. Buy a magnum of birth year Langtons wine and tuck it in a cellar. When they all are 21. Hand over an incredible wine collection and a share portfolio. My vision has always been from the age of 12 we would sit down and talk about companies and what moves they want to make but as the ‘CIO’ they had to sell me on their idea before we made a call. Brings them to the table and makes them think about investing. A little bit of a carrot and stick.”

“Pretty much my thinking too. A little from each pay goes into it for him, when he’s 18-21 he’ll have enough to run it himself or use for start-up capital or whatever helps build his financial freedom. He’ll also ideally have a house, crypto and some kind of alternative investments (wine/whiskey/art/classic car). Pop got us started early and that’s a big part of helping me get to this point.”

“At least 50% of what I deem as my personal success I attribute to our grandfather and exactly that. I remember working for $5.40 an hour at McDonalds and saving to buy Westfield shares.”

“I remember calling some stocks dude on ABC talkback radio asking him about Pacific Dunlop in Pop’s study. I think I was like 11.”

“Hahaha I remember that. He loved Pacific Dunlop. Also BHP.”

“I knew what a dividend was before most kids lost their baby teeth.”

“I remember getting the AFR / The Age out with a slide ruler looking at share prices in the paper.”

“Back when the paper listed all the stocks!”

“Could calculate a share split and ROE before I could legally drink.”

‘Ansell, Westpac, Pacific Dunlop, PAC Brands, Westfield, AMP some of the stocks I remember…”

“Good times”

“The best.”

“Can’t wait till our kids talk about this in 30 years the way we talk about it now.”

We were fortunate. Our grandfather (Pop) taught us about stocks and shares and long term investing when we were at school. It’s helped us to understand the long term potential of investment.

Our education was thanks to people who wanted us to be financially independent and free in life. But why can’t that education be the core of every child that gets an education? Why aren’t there 40 or 50 million ISA stocks and shares accounts in the UK instead of around eight million?

Education, the confidence to take control and the mindset to make it happen. That’s why. And that’s what I want to change.

My brother and I are the children of teachers. Mum and Dad worked for the Education Department their entire careers. Our grandfather was a retired accountant. Our other grandfather was a painter and fruit-shop owner in a small rural village. None of them started off wealthy.

When we were kids, we lived in a modest house. We shared ‘big’ Christmas presents. The first pair of Nike basketball shoes I owned, I bought for myself when I was 18. Boy did we pester Mum and Dad for them year in year out. But they were focused on tomorrow, not just the instant gratification of today. My brother and I played in ‘Lynx’ basketball shoes. I tell you this because it’s proof that anyone from any background can do something positive to change their financial future.

Our folks sacrificed little bits over a long time to achieve financial independence.

And most importantly for us they helped educate us about these basic financial principles, how impactful they can be long term and how simple they can be when you put the right strategy into place and also invest your money in the right way.

This is the ethos of smart investing.

A simple, smart strategy with the right knowledge and the right guidance sets you up long term. It’s not hard to do, but it’s hard to commit to and that’s where most people fall down.

But I believe that when it becomes part of your routine, it becomes ‘muscle memory’ to you then it has the potential to change your life.

The ability to help millions of people work their way out of financial mediocrity is a privilege I’ve got. And I’m going to work my backside off to try and get at least one million people in the UK to take action and to start building wealth long term and achieve financial freedom.

That freedom I believe starts with opening a stocks & shares ISA. There’s so many reasons why this is one of the most important financial tools you can use. And that’s why I want to help one million people in the UK that have never done it before open a new stocks & shares ISA.

It’s an ambitious goal. But one I think we can achieve.

This is just the start of a movement I think is long overdue not just here in the UK but around the world. Everyone can be wealthy long term, you’ve just got to take the first positive steps to make it happen.

What do you think?

Do you believe it is possible?

Will you be setting one up for yourself, your children?

Obviously a big part of this ambition is what you actually put into your ISA to make this all a reality. I am going to help you with that. I have decided to take the rather radical action of dedicating my career to this mission.

I want to help UK investors break out of the pattern of disappointment many are headed for… to avoid the mediocre financial future that’s been mapped out for you.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share more details on this project – here in Exponential Investor.

Sam Volkering
Editor, Southbank Investment Research

Category: Technology

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