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Davinia Tomlinson on The Health, Wealth and Happiness Report

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Wealth in the Health, Wealth and Happiness Report: The Pandemic (2/3)

LifeSearch CEO Tom Baigrie hosts Ally Millar, Baz Moffatt, Davinia Tomlinson, Luke Ambler and Nina Skero in the Health, Wealth and Happiness conversations*.

Together with Cebr, LifeSearch compiled three brand new indices to deliver an accurate reading of health, wealth and happiness levels in the UK.

In these three conversations, our experts further pull apart the report, exploring its findings and relating them to their own experiences and expertise.

This episode, the second of a 3-part series, is focused on Wealth, how we’ve changed priorities and perception through the pandemic, and what’s in store in the future.

Tom Baigrie - Davinia I think I've called you several things so far, but Davinia is the one I've got the hang of. Do you prefer Dav?

Davinia Tomlinson - Either is fine. 

Tom - I think as we haven't met before, I'll stick with Davinia. If that's alright, that's alright?

Davinia - You can call me Dav when we meet.

Angus Baigrie - Hello and welcome back to Searching for Elephants Episode Two of our three part Health Wealth and Happiness Series, and comes off the back of the launch of our Health, Wealth and Happiness Pandemic Report. This episode focuses on the future of wealth in our country. We've got our six returning experts back and ready to go. You've just heard the voices of our wealth expert and founder of Rainchq. Davinia Tomlinson, who was talking to Tom Baigrie, who chairs the conversation and is the CEO of LifeSearch. And if you want to know more about them, then go back and listen to the first episode, which focuses on current and future health, but for now take it away, folks.

Tom - So Davinia, Dav 72% of us are concerned about our future finances. The stats from Nina and CEBR. Tell us what practical steps can ordinary people take to become less concerned?

Davinia - Yeah, no, I think, unsurprisingly, it's a high number. The first thing to remember is that, even though it may not feel like it at the time, I think sometimes it can be quite comforting to recognize that this is something that's completely outside of our control. And so recognizing what is within our control is the first step. The second thing is to immediately do an assessment of where you are in terms of your income and outgoings. So if you think about yourself, in the same way as you would think about running a business and thinking about your cash flow, going through your standing orders and your direct debits is the you know, was the first place to start in terms of, you know, what I've been telling my clients, it's really go through with a fine tooth comb, anything that is flying out of your account each month without you having any control over it at all, and freeing up that cash so that it can be redistributed elsewhere is a really good place to start. I think for those people that found that they might be falling delinquent with household bills, whether that be utilities or mortgages, things like that. I know that there were providers that were offering payment holidays. And of course, it doesn't necessarily mean that the interest payments will stop accruing during that period, it just gives you some breathing space. So I think that's another important thing to consider. I think for those people that fall into the 28% category, because of course, there are considerations for them too. And we recognize that there are that, you know, there is that relationship between your financial well being and other aspects of your wellness, your mental health in general. So even if you are not somebody that has had your finances decimated by the pandemic, you will still suddenly be confronted with your financial fragility for the first time for lots of us. So I think reflecting on what you can do to feather your nest for future is really important. So I always stress the importance of having a rainy day fund thinking about what you can do to really shore up your reserves, and bolster that rainy day fund is important. And if you're in a position to do so increasing you know pension contributions, anything of that nature, that will mean in future, you will not be thrust into a real sense of financial struggle.

Tom - Brilliant thank you. You mentioned interest rates, Davinia, and with negative interest rates currently being discussed. This is the thing that fascinates me. What effects might that have on our household savings ratio? And how might that change the way we keep our money?

Davinia - Yeah, it's been unfortunately for homeowners, it's not, it doesn't necessarily mean that those those interest rates will pass along to us or that the banks pay us for loaning us money. So that's unfortunate news. But for Savers, I think, you know, obviously, there's been a real spike in interest in investing. So for people that have, you know, previously never considered investing in the stock market, for example, you know, lots of younger people are really considering ways that they can make their money work harder for them. Obviously, they recognize the effects of, you know, just parking their money, a deposit account, and not earning any interest on it at all. And I think that's probably spurred lots of them into action. You know, for the general public, when people think about investing, it can be described in quite sensationalist terms, you know, we think of Wolf of Wall Street or, you know, huge peaks and troughs in the stock market, rather than thinking about the fact that, obviously, over a long term period, there is lots of data and research that points to the fact that stock market investing will outperform cash saving. And I think as long as you know, there is greater financial education and awareness, we can expect to see some of those trends continue. But I think there really is a concern, particularly when you think about, you know, people's propensity to save versus spend. And right now, lots of people not not necessarily all, but there are lots of people sitting on a huge cash pile that they've amassed during lockdown. And so hopefully it will be a real boon for the economy as they go out and enjoy hospitality and leisure, and start spending much more recognizing that they're not going to accrue any any interest if it was in a savings account.

Tom - Thank you. Surprisingly, to me anyway, in October 2020, average weekly earnings went up to levels not seen since April 2008. How would we explain this?

Nina Skero - I think many parts of the economy and also the personal finances of many households have actually held up much better than one would have intuitively guessed at the beginning of the pandemic. So Davinia mentioned a moment ago that many people are actually sitting on larger than normal piles of savings. And that's absolutely the case. Some people that are in the most impacted industries, of course, might have lost their jobs and might have seen their their incomes suffer. But for a lot of people that haven't seen their income be impacted in any meaningful way, what they have seen is just a huge drop in their expenditure.

Angus - Just in case you were wondering that's CEBR's CEO, economist, Nina Skero talking.

Nina - I mean, there's only so many things you can order from Amazon, you know, not going out, not commuting, cooking at home, inevitably, a lot of people have ended up not traveling, a lot of people have accumulated large saving, as I think it's also to keep in mind, you know, statistics, people like to think of them as these sort of, you know, perfect, infallible things. But if you really take the time, to sort of look at what is behind some of these things, you know, you keep in mind, for example, in London, specifically, a lot of people have just left since the beginning of the pandemic, if they weren't working, especially if they were in sectors like hospitality, they were really impacted and completely shut basically, for long stretches of times, large chunks of the workforce have just left, and you're really going to struggle to see that picked up in the in the statistics, maybe the longer term ones when you look at sort of, you know, big changes in, in working age population and such, but sort of, you know, looking at the, you know, regular regular measures like like weekly earnings, given that we have the government support in place, which is sometimes hard to kind of, you know, cut out of the statistics, sort of, what is actual economic robustness and what is sort of drove the fiscal taps being open. So, you know, I think with that in mind, it's not necessarily once you sort of dig underneath the surface, it's not surprising that that the earnings statistics have actually been quite robust. And I think we've actually seen that with a number of the wealth measures.

Tom - I guess that might end. When furlough ends, we, again, what's intuitively right doesn't often seem to happen these days, more or less, the opposite sometimes happens. So. So one doesn't want to to be too, too predictive. But it seems to me that many people are facing potential unemployment once once furlough ends, and shifting from the economics of it to the personal of it, Luke you deal with those having a tough time, this would be a classic increaser of personal stress, what would be your practical advice?

Luke Ambler - I think if you leave any problem in life till till crisis point, then it's gonna just make the problem more detrimental isn't it?

Angus - That's Luke Ambler, our happiness coach and founder of Andy's Man Club.

Luke - So someone is on furlough. It does end, I think it's September. So you've got if you've got a feeling that that could be coming to you now, start looking now start up skilling now you've got time on your hands, you shouldn't be working if you're furloughed. So you've got your normal working week to really upskill yourself and be putting yourself out there. And I don't just mean this in a in a furlough sense I'm in that in any sense. You know, don't wait until you're obese to go on a weight loss program don't wait till you're you know suicidal to help better your mental health or you're at rock bottom. So it's in everythings isn't it. I think as human beings, we like to just put stuff to back of your head hoping, you know, and I know a lot of people will be listening to this who are on furlough thinking, I just please I hope it ain't me that gets to go and it's like a lottery then and you know, we've what could be the reward could also come the risk so, I'd be saying to people be proactive, now, you're getting paid now to be proactive to be able to set up you and your family or you and yourself up for this next stage of where we're at. So that'd be my my key key advice.

Davinia - I guess just finding up on Luke's point, recognize that there is so there are so many free resources out there already. I'm not normally a big advocate of social media, unless it's for you unless you can be very disciplined and focused with regard to what you're consuming. But I think, you know, social media actually can be quite a good Haven, if you're focused on, you know, being part of business communities, for example, where they're sharing free resources, there are a variety a multitude of free master classes on structuring your business on small business finance. You know, there are communities of entrepreneurs in different industries that can help you to, you know, take your idea from kind of a, you know, just the germ of an idea to something that could become bigger. And I think, you know, also social media provides a platform through which you're able to test you know, use it as a promotional platform, test your idea, see if anybody's willing to buy it, and you can do so at very little risk. You know, I know that lots of us sometimes get inside our own heads and think, you know, everybody's going to be looking at me or it's going to be awful. But actually, exactly to Luke's point now is the best possible time for you to try a few things out. So, you know, there's been this huge spike in side hustles, as people call them, where, you know, you can effectively take a hobby and monetize it. And I think, you know, thinking about it in that way can take some of the pressure off, if you're thinking about, you know, I'm just, I'm just trying to monetize my hobby, rather than thinking, right, I'm trying to build a business empire. That's probably the best way to start. So the thing that I would always say to anybody is don't delay just take one first step and then build from there.

Tom - Baz that's exactly what you did, actually.

Baz Moffat - Yeah, yeah. I was listening to Davinia then and I was like, I get I get exactly what she's saying. But I kind of had a different approach in that when the pandemic came on I had this I knew that I wanted to create something like with a huge with a legacy, like really improving female health.

Angus - That's Baz Moffat LifeSearch's health coach, women's health expert and former Olympic Rower.

Baz - And so instead of giving myself an out, if you like, and saying, okay, like, this is a bit of a side hustle, I'm going to see how it's going. I just thought, you know what, there is no better time than now to go for this like this. This, you know, Coronavirus has come, I really, really want to give this a really good go. And so it really spurred me on to totally go for it. And I was a personal trainer. So actually my business. It didn't didn't disappear overnight, but it had to shift online. And it's just not what I wanted to be doing. And so this really motivated me to really get out there and go for it. And we just decided I remember having a really good meeting with some of our investors. And they were like, so this is going to be a charity? This is going to be like something small? Is it going to be a hobby? And I said, We are all eggs in this basket and I'm ready like I did with my sport, I went for gold, and I was happy kind of not to get it in that I put everything into it. And so this pandemic's really motivated me to kind of do that with my business and I've never had that confidence before apart from that sports world such a long time ago up until then I've been like, bit of this bit of that bit this and but now I've got real clarity.

Luke - I think if this pandemics taught us anything it's that life's short isn't it? You know and there's people losing lives daily, so why I live a life that you're not truly content in. So there's a scene in a Batman movie where Batman's stuck in this prison in like a well, right and he's trying to get out of this well and he keeps running he's got this rope attached to his back. So anytime you don't quite get yourself out of it. This big tunnel he's got himself stuck. He keeps jumping and keeps missing ledge. And eventually this this like weird old man pops out of this like cave and says cut the rope. And the ropes the one thing that's stopping him from falling and dropping like a lot of people in their jobs a lot of people on furlough and he just keeps saying cut the rope, cut the rope. He's like this guy's mad why am I gonna cut rope? Doesn't actually say that in movie with a Yorkshire accent. But he just keeps running and jumping. He's keeps running and jumping, eventually, he gets it cuts the rope. And that little bit of weight that that rope had, although it were protecting him, it was stopping him from getting to where he wanted to be just like Baz there just like any of us just like yourself. Tom, when you first started LifeSearch when we're all had a dream at some point we had to cut the rope of what we knew were normal maybe away from what our parent's believe put on us, those people around us eventually, at some point, you've got to stop listening to those people's voices around you. Cut the rope cut the safety net and try and jump and get out of that well. And that's what a lot of is do isn't it? And then you see that once you get there, that the grass is green and it's nice and don't get me wrong, the real challenge's start once that rope cut, but you get yourself one step closer to your dreams don't you. And that's what life's all about.

Tom - And I suppose Davinia just because before I come to you, I could put a little plug in there just before you cut your rope, just protect that income of yours, give LifeSearch a call. And and just just make sure that if you miss the ledge, someone sends you a check each month while you while you try and work out how to get back up there. Davinia was that the point you were going to make?

Davinia - Yeah! I completely see what Baz and Luke are saying I completely agree and in normal times pre pandemic times that absolutely, I completely agree you have to go through it, there has to come a point where you go for it. But I just wonder when you know, in, in an environment or when we're in the midst of having you know, all of our senses assaulted with all of these different things simultaneously, for the first time ever. I mean, that word unprecedented has been used so many different times. But I think when you're thinking about doing something that could jeopardize your own financial security and that of your loved ones, leaping off or having someone cut your rope, it just doesn't feel like that is the right thing to do. And so on that basis, I thought, you know, having that kind of hedging your bets a bit and maybe having someone hold the rope to someone's point about having somebody hold the rope or you have some protection in place. That to me feels like a far more mentally safe and financially safe way to do it. But that could be because I'm small c conservative, perhaps.

Luke - No, I think every clever entrepreneur would cover the downside wouldn't they? And maybe have a six month parachute should should it go wrong. I think that's what you have got to think about like cover the downside should that risk go wrong. When I quit Rugby and went all in. I had another buy to let property that if it all went wrong, that I would have sold that and it would have been my family's security for a few months. So when I talk about going all in, I don't just mean I went all in with last 1000 pound, like some people tell that story I think, you know, if you look at any successful businessman, they always call it a business person, sorry, very poor of me, business person they would cover the downside so I couldn't agree more.

Ally Millar - Tom, you're the one among the group here that runs a company of several hundred people in the working from home transaction, you know, affected you arguably more than it affected the rest of us.

Angus - That's Ally Millar, author of LifeSearch's health wealth and happiness report, who heads up the creative agency Fall of Man.

Ally - I mean, how did the transition go for you and LifeSearch?

Tom - We were very well, I'd say we were lucky  Ally. But it wasn't actually luck. Because in 2008, we committed ourselves to a business ethos which put our customers first and our people second and our profits third, which sounds easy, but the manifestation was that we started to enable flexible working from 2008. And by 2019, everybody had LifeSearch had a laptop, and everyone was able to do their job wherever they wanted to do their job. Well, whenever whenever they wanted to do their job as well within within reason, obviously. So we didn't, we transition for an hour, it really was just don't come in, stay home, go fetch your laptop if you left it in the office over the weekend. So we were very lucky. But the luck didn't come from nowhere. The luck came from trying to run a business the way we've we've run LifeSearch for a very long time. I want to take you now into a more scary place. The report mentions the the technical, technological encroachment, and its its acceleration during the pandemic. Do you think that the machines takeover threatens jobs? Really? Do you see that was just replacing the jobs that we don't want to do? Or do you feel that AI is actually going to give us a whole new level of unemployment that we haven't, haven't had to deal with before? 

Ally - People were asked to kind of I suppose rank the fears, you know, one to 10? What are you most scared of? And unlike in previous years, we've seen, you know, a decent level of fear around AI encroachment or technological encroachment on jobs. This time around, we didn't see that. And, you know, there's potentially an interesting question there. Why are people less afraid of technological encroachment? I think the obvious answer is because we'd other stuff to think about, we had other stuff to consider. I don't think that fear is going to be any less pertinent, as we sort of emerge through the other side of this. And I think what has been very obvious is, during the initial stages of COVID, just when we were kind of venturing from spring into summer, people stop talking about COVID as being our a game changer and started talking about it being an accelerant, an accelerant of things that are going to happen anyway, technological encroachment, the moving of grocery shopping to online, the you know, the the heightened use of zoom calls. You know, Netflix's stock price went from, you know, $300 to $600, kind of almost overnight. I don't think these things were game changers, COVID was an accelerant for things that were probably coming sooner or later anyway. And I think technological encroachment is just, you know, another, you know, another stanza in the great tune of life and of progress.

Nina - I agree on some points, I would sort of, I do think it's time for some of the rhetoric to move away from the fact where technology is a game changer for lower skilled jobs. I actually think, you know, just looking for a lot of professionals, a lot of office based workers, in terms of the you know, how technology has impacted their way of working and there is a positive way to look at it, which is, you know, this is great, I no longer need to be based near my office, if I'm working from home, I have a lot more freedom. And then I guess maybe a continuation of that is, well, if it turns out that this job actually isn't location dependent, can we maybe hire somebody who is much further away from the office who is just as skilled, and you know, probably living in a country in a part of the world where cost of living are much lower, and therefore their salary expectations for this job are much lower. So I do think that, you know, it's already been an incredibly complex discussion over the last couple of decades really sort of this wave of what kind of jobs are being impacted by technology? And I think if anything over the last year, I think it's a question that has popped up in a lot of people minds, you know, of terms of thinking well, like, hold on, am I now more easily, easily replaceable? Maybe not necessarily, by a robot, but by a another human thanks to technology because suddenly, so many more jobs become location agnostic.

Tom - And I also think that the technology has improved our productivity. Incredibly, the number of things you can do in fast order, because you're not getting to meetings and doing all the nice stuff we used to do, it means that perhaps fewer people are needed to do the same job. But in my long experience, and I've been saying this to LifeSearchers for literally over a decade, the machines only take your job, if you let them, you need to shape your job around the machines, you need to find the work the machines are doing, we've just launched our new online trading platform, which in theory competes directly with all our advisors on the telephone. But we know that a huge number of people who try to buy what we advise on life insurance and Disability Insurance online, actually just have too many questions. And they need help. So if we own the machines that are solving the problem of online, we're creating all the work for our people offline. That's that that's our underlying logic. Baz, you had your hand up a moment ago.

Baz - Yeah. And I think it was just to say that, you know, Ali mentioned there that people said that the fear of machines taking over their jobs wasn't as big a thing now, and I just looked at it differently and thought well, actually, maybe that's because we've all become a lot more human. And we've seen the value in human like Davinia said in that first podcast, that suddenly she got to know her neighbors. And there was a real value to that, like, you know, we went round our estate and gave letters to everybody saying, if you need help, and then suddenly, you saw the value of carers, you saw the value of this total, you know, this unpaid profession many times, and if they are paid, being paid really poorly. And and you just got a sense of well, communication is key. And we can only get so efficient, you know, to the point where people are sending, you know, I'm now making an effort in my emails to actually write nice things in the emails, not just like, you know, the practical stuff. And I think this pandemic has really kind of put value on that. In the moment, we can become more efficient, but actually, we're not cross pollinating. We're not networking, we're not getting the magic happening. And I think that's where maybe, maybe that's an interpretation of those results as well.

Tom - I think that's wonderful. Davinia. Yes,

Davinia - Thank you, Tom. So the one thing that I wanted to highlight was that, obviously, the disparity between the impact on the pandemic on women's finances, and we talked previously about the disproportionate effects of the pandemic, in terms of economic outcomes for women as a result of I mean, even prior to the pandemic, the UN has been a huge body of research that shows the trillions of dollars of GDP contribution on paid Social Care conducted by women. And I think the pandemic has effectively exacerbated that it's worsened economic outcomes for women. And we can see that on a local level, perhaps among our friendship groups, or even within our own homes where women, either consciously or subconsciously are absorbing the lion's share of domestic work and unpaid social care responsibilities. We've also seen specifically within the US, there's been a research report that points to, you know, the huge number of women that have left the workforce, particularly in the last quarter of 2020, as a result of competing pressures within the home and within the workplace. And, of course, the long term consequences of that on women's finances or as yet unclear. But if you consider that there is already a pension gap that exists within the UK and globally, when you think about, you know, the proportion of women that will retire in the UK with a very small pension pot compared to the average UK man. And the pandemic has effectively exacerbated that. So I definitely think that, you know, it'll be interesting to see what happens and what initiatives, programs and measures can be taken to support women in closing some of these gaps that have now widened as a result of the last 12 months.

Tom - I think it's a very, very valid point, indeed, and something that society will, yes, have to strive to fix. Luke you had a thought?

Luke - Yeah, I just I were just thinking about the topic of this podcast; wealth, and I know we're talking about income protection and entrepreneurship and technological advances and other words, I didn't quite understand. But Baz got me thinking about about true wealth, and we spoke about investments and returns, but people have really invested in communities in themselves. And these built good returns on their character bank hadn't it? And you know when I'm talking about that, um, what about better values, people are getting to lot better values, a lot better ethics about them now, and that's true wealth in it? You know, what you what you've got in your heart as much as what you got in your bank it's important, and I'm not just rounding off with a corny cliche thing. It was just what Baz said then it made me think about my own little neighborhood and, and just, you know, and tragically, you know, I don't know when this podcast will go out but like the young man last night or the night before in London or dived into River Thames to save to save that woman and tragically died. You know, what a hero what true wealth that is to, to, you know, put yourself at risk to help another human being and ultimately not matter what business you're in, you're only trying to serve, serve another human being and make their life better aren't you? That's true wealth in it? When you know at end of day it's not about what profit you made, you know, you said a minute ago, customer, people profit. Your ultimate profit is the how many people's life you can influence for the better isn't it? That's true wealth, in my book, whether you're making an income and you're making a good profit or you're helping more people, wealth can be defined in a multitude of ways can't it?

Tom - I really think you're right, I think it's a wonderful place to end up because wealth is not just about money. It's about so much more than that and your vision of wealth in the community, wealth and service. These things are every bit as true a value of wealth as pounds in a bank. You're absolutely right. Well, thank you everyone. I found that I didn't expect the wealth section of this to move me but it did.

Angus - Download the report and learn more about it have a lifesearch.com/hwh or for more information on the health wealth and happiness facts and figures follow LifeSearch in all of those usual social places. And the final part of our conversation; Happiness: now and tomorrow is ready and waiting for you. So why don't you just go on ahead, click play and keep listening baby. Searching for Elephants is composed and mixed by Patrick Baigrie. And the show was created and edited by me Angus Baigrie

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