• Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

How to achieve financial freedom for you and your family, in a world worth living in

Rob Gardner 8Rob Gardner, CEO of Rebalance Earth and guest on The Switch podcast.

Written by Rob Gardner, CEO and co-founder of Rebalance Earth, and guest on St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy podcast, The Switch. 

I have always loved the flow of money. Growing up, I had an interest in currency which evolved into a passion for raising money, launching my career into finance. When my first daughter was born, I was inspired to write Save Your Acorns, a book designed to provide children with a financial education. By the time my second daughter was born, I took on the role of Financial Education Guide for the Girl Guides. As my career has progressed, I’ve become fiercely passionate about financial literacy and using money as a “force for good,” for both people and planet.    

I was very lucky in that I learnt about how to earn and keep money from my mum and dad. However, I learnt about how to grow it, through understanding investment and equity, during my career at Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch.  

The magic of compound interest 

A positive place to start, to set both yourself and your family up for financial success, is to think about pensions. Paying into a pension can often fall down the list, particularly if you’re just starting your career, or you’re a business owner or entrepreneur. Thinking about having enough money when you’re older, can feel quite daunting but the magic of growing your wealth comes through compound interest.  

The story I share is that if you start a pension from birth and add £5 a day until the age of ten, then leave it – compound interest means that by the time you’re 65, you’ll have a million pounds. Even if you put away 50p per day, you’ll have £100,000. I’ve set up pensions like these for my daughters, and a similar fund to help put my niece through college in America. This also enables conversations with them about investment, which has kick-started their education in financial literacy.  

Building healthy habits  

Putting away money every day might feel like a big commitment for some but if you imagine giving up a daily vice, such as coffee, and instead putting the money into a fund, it feels more manageable. Someone I know had a habit of ordering lots of things he really didn’t need from Amazon. To change the habit, every time he wanted to buy an item, he’d put it in his shopping basket, and wire the exact cost of the item directly into savings. If he came back 24-hours later and still wanted the item, he allowed himself to make the purchase. Either way, he was still putting money away and had more time to consider the item, rather than make a purchase he’d later regret.  

 A force for good  

Once you and your family are practising the healthy habit of investing your money, you need to think about where you are investing. After my daughters were born, I started to think about this idea of a world worth living in. I knew I could show them how to save a million pounds but if they were going to grow up in a world with no plants, no animals, no birds, what was the point? Now I’m keen to show people not only how they can achieve financial freedom, but also how the flow of money can be a force for good.  

 The good news of the last 50 years is we have seen the population grow, economies grow, and global markets grow. There are more people in education and people living longer. There’s more democracy. But we have achieved this at the expense of our planet, of biodiversity. We simply cannot sustain this for the next 50 years. So how can we connect financial markets with restoration?  

 As I encouraged listeners during my interview with Gee Footitt on The Switch, a podcast by St. James’s Place Financial Advisor Academy, think about where you earn your money. The business you work for. Is it a good business? Where to you store your money? Which bank do you use? Where do you spend your money? Are the brands you shop from aligned with your values? These are all important considerations, but the real magic comes from where you invest your money. 

Put your money where your heart is  

Investment in the right things gives you not only the opportunity to save a house deposit, or have enough to live on during retirement, but a real opportunity to make a difference and create a world worth living in. The way this happens is because your money is arrogated together, builds into trillions of pounds which businesses can use to make a real positive impact, while remaining profitable.  

A stat that I like to share if that if you invest your money in an ISA or pension over 40 years in a way that is engaging with companies to make them more sustainable (more profitable but with a lower environmental impact, looking after the people who work for them and the communities), you will have 27 times more impact than giving up meat, cycling to work etc.  

When you think about which companies or causes you might want to invest in, I’d advise thinking about what your purpose or goal is beyond money. For me, my goal is to encourage the flow of capital to protect and restore nature. For you, it might be to invest in a world where you know your children will be able swim in water free from plastic, or just be able to afford their bills. Your unique purpose will help you stay focused on the things that you can control, rather than the things that you can’t. It will be the North Star that guides you on the journey to not only grow your own wealth but that of the next generation’s.