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Whistle-Stop Introduction to Personal Finance

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Financial Advisor and Old Boy Ross Taylor (Class of 2004) connected with Girls’ Division pupils in Year 11 via Zoom to give a quick overview of money management. The session took place during afternoon PSHEE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education) and offered sound life advice throughout.

Ross began with a focus on saving. He summarised the benefits of the Lifetime ISA, which can be put towards a first home, retirement, or split between the two, and talked about ‘How to turn £28,800 into £3,200,000’ through investment in Global Equities. He presented ‘Emoji Guides’ to investing and why it’s a good idea, which was a fun way to get the information across to his Year 11 audience. He briefly discussed compound interest and quoted Einstein, who described it as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’.

Moving on to more general advice related to money, Ross reminded the girls that if they are not paying for something, such as Instagram, that means that they are not the customer, but rather the product: their attention is being bought, often through advertising. He also warned Year 11 that ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it is’ and said that there are lots of examples of this popping up on social media platforms like TikTok.

He advised the girls to always try negotiation when appropriate: when shopping for new mobile phone contracts, car insurance, TV packages and so on, but not at the checkout at Tesco! He suggested seeing it as a game and offered some tips and techniques that he uses himself. He talked about investing to beat inflation, and the importance of developing ‘human capital’: the amount each person is worth in the economic world. He said that while education and qualifications are a part of this, experience and attitude play a big role too.

Ross went on to discuss the relationship between happiness and money. He advised that although we live in a consumption-driven society, and having money does offer more choices in life, it isn’t an end in itself: relationships and experiences are what bring happiness.

Finally, and linking to this, he talked briefly about careers as a financial advisor or planner. He said that it’s not all about the money, but rather about encouraging and enabling clients to do things they never thought they could. He said that helping people with their savings and finances is a privileged position and that, although it is a male-dominated field, there is huge demand and many opportunities for women.

Opening the floor to questions, he talked about qualifications. The profession is now regulated and a Level 4 qualification for Financial Planning is needed, with continuous professional development opportunities and the option to ultimately become a Chartered Financial Planner, which he is working towards himself. He also advised that there are firms around Manchester with school leaver programmes, and that his own company could offer work experience to interested girls following the talk. He further discussed the Lifetime ISA, the effect of world events on unpredictable markets, and how things have changed recently in his profession, with particular reference to Covid.

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