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This is part 3 of a series I’m calling ‘How to start a Lifestyle Financial Planning business from scratch’. If you are new here, welcome! For context, it would make sense for you to start with part 1 which can be found by clicking here.

Last week I detailed my time in the Army and explained why it didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped.

So, let’s continue…

March 2005

After leaving the Army I moved back in with my mum and step-dad.

That was a tough gig after 5 years away. Of course, I love them both, but I wouldn’t choose them as housemates.

I had no money and no job.

I had GCSE’s whilst my friends had A-Levels at the very least, and most were about to finish university with a degree.

I couldn’t help but feel at a massive disadvantage to my peers, I felt like I was so far behind everyone else my age, and the worst bit was that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life! 😤

I was lost.

Still, I was glad to have my freedom. So, I did the only sane thing any man would do after spending 5 years in the military – I grew my hair! 😎👹🤘🏻

Now what?

As I trawled through the job section in the paper I was uninspired, I saw jobs I really didn’t want to do, or jobs I quite fancied but required qualifications or experience I didn’t have.

But the fact remained that I needed a job. So, I applied for a sales role with DFS (the sofa place🛋). The first question I was asked in the interview was; “So Marc, what do you know about DFS”? 🤔

After a brief rub of the old chin I proudly replied with a cheeky smile “I know that Martin Kemp is on your adverts…and he’s pretty cool!” 😉 #nailedit

I didn’t get that job.

I later discovered that Martin Kemp was in fact on the SCS adverts – promoting DFS’s main rivals 🤦🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️

I then applied for a job as a car salesman. 🚘

After a confident display in the interview I was offered the job on the spot…on the condition that I ‘sorted my hair out’. 😧

Huh, fat chance buddy!

I politely declined the terms offered and me and my mullet promptly left the building with a strong sense of moral victory.

(I’m glad I stuck to my guns on that one because I will spend the rest of my life with a shaved head😇).

Wanna buy some karate?

I was approaching desperation when I stumbled across an ad in the paper for a self-employed position selling Karate – yes, you read that right.

Selling….Karate.

It also came with free karate lessons and a respectable OTE of c£25,000 a year!

That sounded like a pretty neat proposition!

I grew up watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, so I felt like this might be a sign!

Was this serendipity?

I was intrigued, so I went for it.

After 3 months of knocking on doors and just about breaking even financially, I came to realise that selling Karate wasn’t a sustainable business model long term.

My search for employment was back on.

Further advance

My best buddy John worked for a large high street bank in their Mortgage contact centre and he encouraged me to go for a job there as they were desperate for staff.

The mortgage market was booming at the time, and they couldn’t make mortgages fast enough! 🏠

House prices were rising rapidly, and people were getting used to accessing cheap credit by re-mortgaging their house and releasing equity to buy (mostly) stuff they didn’t need. It was beautiful (until it wasn’t 📉).

I got a job processing mortgage applications.

To my surprise, I kind of enjoyed it!

In fact, I wanted to do more of it – I wanted to be an actual full on Mortgage Adviser!

Invest in yourself

The only problem was that to become a Mortgage Adviser I needed the requisite qualifications.

This would cost money – money I didn’t have.

Luckily, my step-dad offered to loan me the money for the study material and exam fees.

I was pumped!

* Purpose – This was the first time in my adult life I felt like I had a true purpose, something meaningful to aim for. Although the source escapes me now, I once read that ‘Happiness is the pursuit of a worthy goal’ and I would support that view. That’s why I have meaningful conversations with clients approaching ‘retirement’ to challenge them on how they will fill their time once retired. Countless studies have suggested that to suddenly stop a 40+ year working life and ‘retire’ with the sole aim of spending the rest of your days on the golf course (for example) is not always a good thing. It can leave a void in one’s life – a void that can lead to an unhappy and unhealthy retirement.*

Men behaving badly

Things were looking up – I had a car, a job AND a girlfriend!

But living at my mums was so un-cool, and it wasn’t conducive for my new relationship either. I recall one time when my mum burst into my bedroom unannounced like some kind of Saturday night TV show host and had a go at my new girlfriend for leaving drops of water on the bathroom floor after having a shower.😮

I was like; “Can this wait, mum?”😐

I was discussing this issue with my buddy John and to my surprise he came up with the idea to buy a house together!🙌🏼

At 21, this sounded like an epic idea – because you see John was the kinda guy who saved money – so he had enough for a deposit, and together our wages were enough to get us a decent little pad.

In December 2005 we bought a 3-bed mid terraced house for £72,950 with a 5% deposit – interest rates were a lot higher back then, and our deal was a rather meaty 5.25%

We took the mortgage over the longest possible term of 40 years which made our monthly payments around £350 – which felt like a LOT at the time.😬

After paying for the deposit and associated fees, we had no money left – so we begged for castaways from friends and family to help furnish the house, and all refurbishments would have to be done by ourselves.

John was meticulous when it came to the renovations.

I, on the other hand, was hopeless – and found it punishingly mundane.😴

John’s dad would often come over and help us.

All I wanted to do was study for my Mortgage Adviser qualifications and then spend time with my girlfriend, but I couldn’t – because John and his dad were busy sanding every damn skirting board in the house, by hand…which meant that I had to…and so for the best part of a year my evenings were spent renovating the house and studying.

This eventually brought an end to the relationship which I had clearly neglected. But it didn’t matter because I had a new wife now – he was called John – and John needed me to sand the damn skirting boards, otherwise – I would get the hose again!👊🏻

The irony of it all was that I bought the house specifically because I wanted more space and freedom for myself and my girlfriend, yet we broke up because I was too busy working on the house!

Funny how good intentions can have paradoxical consequences.

* It reminds me of a client who came to see me for Financial Advice once during the breakdown of his marriage. He told me the sad story of how his life fell apart. He was happily married and enjoying his work until they had their first child. My client was a good man from a working-class background. He told me how he felt he had missed out on a lot of things during his childhood because his parents had little money. Because of this, he was keen to provide his own family with a good life, so much so, that he began working every hour under the sun in a bid to climb the corporate ladder. Soon enough he was promoted. Sure enough, his new role came with a pay rise that would enable him to laden his young family with meaningless trinkets, but it also came with a lot more travelling and nights spent in hotels. Because of this, and the added workload, he was soon out of shape and suffering with stress. He was rarely at home, so he missed the best part of his child’s formative years and his relationship with his wife began to deteriorate. You see, he was no longer the fun loving, easy going, doting husband that she had married. Thankfully they were able to reconcile. He went back to his old job and slowly rebuilt those relationships – after all, they were the most important things in his life. Lucky escape!*

Next week I will tell you how selling gas and electricity helped me build thicker skin, and why I felt my career was cursed!

Until next time…

If you are looking for a collaborative partner to help you and your family succeed financially, then hit me at planning@claritylfp.co.uk and let’s see if we get along!

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