“People either live too long or die too soon,” Mike LeGassick tells us as he explains his thinking behind his career as a Lifestyle Financial Planner.
“Everything I do comes down to those two things. People either live too long, and you think “what’s wrong with living too long?” But with no money it’s not living, it’s existing. And if you die too soon or unexpectedly you could leave your family high and dry with no income coming in and everyone’s left to pick up the pieces as
well as mourn.”
Mike is Plymouth born-and-bred and started out working in retail when he left school. He knew someone who worked in insurance and was offered a position in the industry – 21 years and countless exams later and he’s still heavily involved with it, and he’s got a good understanding of what his clients really want.
“People aren’t remotely interested in whether this fund is better than that one or if this pension is better than another. This is just industry noise. None of which really matters – they just want to know that they’re never going to run out of money and that they can get from A to B in a way that they can understand, is affordable and makes sense.”
“All this ‘product stuff’ is subjective and revolves around opinion. Besides and more importantly, none of it revolves around the truth. The Truth about Money though is far bigger than that.
The Truth about Money changes people’s lives. It revolves around one undeniable fact. A fact that no one can argue with. THAT LIFE IS NOT A REHEARSAL! Precious time is slipping away and we all know that the older we get the quicker time seems to pass us by. And then sooner than you imagined you can’t do some things anymore. Aches and pains creep in, knees and hips need replacing, you’re just worn out, knackered.
Next stop is a wheelchair and final stop is you are dead. Time is our most precious commodity so never forget that.”
This is why Mike calls himself a ‘Lifestyle’ Financial Planner, rather than a standard IFA. He works with Manning & Company, which is a team of Independent Financial Advisors based near Ivybridge.
He asks his clients about their dreams and the things they’d like to do before they find they no longer can, such as round-the-world trips, taking up new hobbies and challenges they may like to attempt, all those things we have always wanted to do. Products are just tools in the box we use from time to time. Clients are only ever interested in the end result.
“The good news is that everybody is living longer, and the bad news is that everybody is living longer.” Although we might now have longer to save, our money needs to last us many more years with people desiring to retire early.
Time also applies to life insurance and many of us question the age at which we should start thinking about it. Most people take out insurance once they’re settled down, perhaps with a house and kids and bigger responsibilities, but this could be expensive if saving money over the long term is important.
“I wish I had [set up life insurance] when I was younger and healthier because I would have saved tens of thousands of pounds and I really regret that. When we’re young, fit and healthy everyone thinks they’re immortal so why would you want life cover?”
“I could’ve insured myself for £1 million until my desired retirement age when I was younger and it would have cost me a fraction of what it will today aged 50.
Putting money aside to protect our families if the worst happens and for our golden years often means sacrificing a few things. Mike believes he could have retired at the age of 45, had he known at the age of 20 what he knows now simply by going out just a little less and putting away some money a little earlier.
So it seems that although we might not consider the need for a Financial Planner until we’re older, Mike has plenty of lessons for those in their twenties.
One of his dreams was to write a book – and he’s done it. Due to be released next year, it brings together everything Mike has learnt over his years in business and as an advisor, working with many clients in various circumstances, and he hopes it will help others plan better and avoid making any mistakes when it comes to life and money. It will be incredibly useful to people or business owners at any age.
“It’s a book of life lessons and how your attitude plays a big part. I have learned that it’s your attitude and not your aptitude that determines your altitude because as Henry Ford said, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right”
“Everything we ever do has a beginning and an end and the same goes for our financial plans. People never plan to fail – they just fail to plan and I don’t imagine this will ever change.”
Mike does occasionally meet clients who have left everything far too late. “It reminds me of a cartoon I once saw where a client tells his adviser that he intends to retire on Monday, but has saved nothing and says to his adviser that this is his opportunity to become a legend!”
“Part of what I do sometimes is to tell people things they don’t want to hear. But if I don’t do that I’m not doing my job properly and I’m not telling the truth. Worse than that is that I am giving them false hope. Time goes so quickly and before you know it, it’s gone.”
“Some people just exist in retirement, and older people these days sometimes have to choose between heating or eating because not everyone can do both, which is a terrible set of circumstances and a horrible place to be.”
Therefore, most of his clients don’t care about various funds and accounts, they just want to know if they’ll be okay when they reach their older years.
“Life’s not fair in the way it works because when you leave school you’re as fit as you’re ever going to be in life. You’ve got all the get up and go and the drive to do a million things, but you haven’t got the money to do any of it.”
“So you get into a relationship, settle down, get married, have kids, your career’s going in the right direction, you’re now earning more money, but you’re spending more now than you were when you were younger because you’ve got a couple of kids and a mortgage.”
“You get into your forties which for many is your best earning bracket and also the peak of your career, and you’ve still got a mortgage to pay, kids going to university and you’re still not getting ahead of
this game called Life”.
“If you’ve done relatively well and reached your sixties with your health intact, and the kids are off doing their own thing, they’re now where you were not so long ago – 20 and ready to take on the world. You’ve now got all the time and money, but maybe not the get up and go you had when you were 20.”
“For most people they never really get ahead in the game of life”
It’s tough to get your head around, but Mike believes that this is why it’s so important to plan for the future. It may mean that you’re able to do all the things you’d like to do, while continuing to live the financially stable lifestyle that you desire.
It’s clear that Mike’s fresh, jargon-free approach to financial planning works – he appeared on the list for The Times Top 250 IFAs in the UK this year, which is based on client reviews through VouchedFor.co.uk. Vouched For is the Trip Adviser for financial professionals. Many of his clients come through the website after prospective clients read what his existing clients have to say about him and the service he delivers or through word-of-mouth.
Mike works hard for this recognition, and is also co-director and founder of the Plymouth Business Network which has been going for five years. It allows the 45 member businesses to network, chat and share referrals, something Mike believes is incredibly important to move your career and aspirations forward and to keep business local.
“If you want to learn off people and aspire to be like them, then make contact with people you respect and ask to take them for a coffee and listen to their advice on why they are successful. You will be amazed how willing many people are to offer some pearls of wisdom because it’s nice to be asked for advice”
Most of us are aware that we should surround ourselves with people who help us to grow, Mike admits that he has been lucky in this department, but says that, “Some people resent success and don’t want the best for you, and these are the people you have to cut loose in your life. Listening to dogma and naysayers will only bring you down so try to mix with positive, creative people”
And if you don’t? “You bury your dreams and aspirations because time moves on and life gets in the way and what was once a burning ambition sadly fades to just a pipedream. Later in life that can turn to regret and you don’t want that.
Mike is incredibly passionate about people getting as much as they possibly can from life and hitting the right work/life balance, and sees his client’s lifestyles and goals without any emotional attachment. For this reason, his advice is practical, understandable and meaningful. Throughout his career he’s helped many people to realise dreams they never thought they could.
For Mike? His ambitions are to travel as much as possible and write a book. He’s already achieved the latter, so we hope to see him flying off to the many countries he hopes to see over the coming years after helping so many others do the same.
Call Mike now at Manning & Company: 01752 837950