How did you get involved with the financial sector?
I graduated from Newcastle University in 2008 and found myself at the mercy of one of the cruellest recessions in living memory. At the same time, the financial services industry had found itself at the forefront of the public consciousness – for the wrong reasons. However, despite the public’s misgivings, it seemed quite appealing to get a real insight into one of the worst crises for a long time. So when a job came up in the financial services sector, I was keen to take it.
Before you came to MRM, what organizations were you involved with?
Before MRM, I worked at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI), the City think-tank, which looks at threats and opportunities in the financial services sector. The Centre has a busy events and publications programme and feeds directly into key financial issues and gives a platform for those in the industry and its detractors to air their opinions on a range of subjects ranging from peer-to-peer lending, pensions to EU regulatory issues.
This was an unparalleled opportunity for me as a young professional to engage with some of the most influential financial figures of the day. I was also able to directly shape debate myself when I researched and wrote “Generation Y: the (modern) world of financial services”, a far-reaching report, which looks at young people’s attitudes to finance. This generated interest from places as diverse as the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, the Russian Ministry of Education and the Financial Times.
Tell us a little about your life outside of work, do you have any hobbies?
I’m quite sporty – I play quite a bit of tennis and am a Man United fan (my local team growing up). I also try and get up north to see family and friends on a fairly regular basis.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
I actually prefer weeklies – and think The Week and, from a financial services perspective, Money Week, are really good reads and a good way of staying on top of the news easily. That said, I have been caught reading the Mail online once or twice!
What is your biggest pet peeve, or makes you angry?
In financial services, it is the fact that politicians often appear to favour older voters when considering policies, while protesting that younger people don’t vote. This is creating a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation and short-sighted approaches like this risk damaging the prospects of the economy for years to come.
Away from financial services, it would be people who play their headphones excessively loud in public places. As well as being pretty unpleasant for other people, I dread to think what this is doing to their hearing even now, let alone when they grow older.
What would you do if you were Prime Minister for a day?
Devolution. Too much power is concentrated in the capital and that can make policymakers and the media very London-centric. The housing issue is a good example of this, as many other parts of the country have actually seen something akin to a crash. Forcing politics away from London would help local areas to properly tackle issues going on in their midst.
If you could give financial advice to the next generation, what would it be?
Not very exciting, but one thing I do regret is not putting money away on a regular basis at a younger age, so I would tell them to make sure they do start saving little and often as soon as possible.