Who Writes This Stuff?

Financial Thing – Welcome

LPleased to meet you and welcome to Financial Thing.

My goal for Financial Thing was to create a peer to peer lending and self-investment resource to help people solve day to day financial puzzles. You know, the puzzles we weren’t taught how to solve, by our parents or in school. How do I invest for retirement? What to invest in? Where do I start? It took me years to make sense of my financial life so I write about my experiences so maybe you can avoid the struggles.

My Dads Death And My Story: It Took Me Decades To Understand My Finances

People often ask me why I started the Financial Thing website. It was because of my dad:

My dad

I had no intention of creating a financial website, it sort of just happened. Allow me to explain.

When I was a child, I always dreamed of being a stockbroker. I had no idea why, other than it sounded like fun and all tv stockbrokers drove really nice cars. When I turned 16, my school enforced a mandatory work experience program. Each student had to find some poor company to host them for three weeks. Unpaid of course.

I signed up to work at a stockbrokers office but they cancelled on me the evening before I was supposed to start. I was 16 and had nowhere to go for three weeks.

Out of options, I asked my friend if I could be his assistant. He agreed under one condition; I had to bring him tuna sandwiches everyday. I reluctantly caved in to his negotiations and was promptly hired with no pay.

My friend was a custom windsurfing board maker who worked out of a dusty shed in Dorset. Despite being an avid windsurfer, I had no aspirations of becoming a windsurfing board maker. I just needed somewhere to go for three weeks and he needed sandwiches, so it was a win-win for all. I spent the next three weeks sweeping the floor and listening to Bob Marley tunes.

After the work experience ended, I lost my appetite for tuna and for stockbroking. I decided that if a financial company was willing to leave a young man in the lurch, all financial companies must be evil and this wasn’t an industry I wanted to work in. A 16 year old’s rationale isn’t always the most sensible.

Fast forward decades later to 2014. After bouncing around through several entrepreneurial business attempts, I searched the internet for books about day trading stocks. I soon realized that day trading presented too much risk and stress so I finally gave up on the idea of ever becoming a stockbroker.

My day trading research presented me a new opportunity for growth when I randomly stumbled upon a book by John Bogle:

The Little Book of Commonsense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns (Little Books. Big Profits)

John Bogle is the founder of Vanguard, one the largest investment firms in the world. His book really changed my life and after reading it, I finally discovered a simple way to invest that anyone could understand. (If you invest or are considering investing in the stock market, I can’t recommend this book enough.) The book explains why investing in single stocks is a fools game and why index trackers have and will continue to outperform actively managed funds and unit trusts. You can read more about this topic here.

Please understand the financial world is confusing by design. If there were only a few financial investment options, financial advisors and hedge fund managers would be unemployed. There are thousands of unit trust options designed to confuse the average investor for a reason. Most of these options offer exactly the same investments but charge different fees. It’s incredibly ridiculous.

Back to the story…

Later in 2014 I received some devastating news. My father, my best friend, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He was 81 and lived a great life but as this was his second bout of cancer, I wasn’t sure he was going to survive. Knowing this, I decided to take two months off work so I could spend as much time with him as he battled this horrific disease.

My dad owned a retail shop for most of his life and had the most admirable entrepreneurial spirit. He was always the person who inspired me the most and I love him for that. While Dad was sick, we spent hours walking and talking about the future. We spoke about many things including the importance of family, business and finances.

My dad had been telling me for years that I needed to organize my financial life, but I always found some excuse to avoid doing it. I could think of nothing worse than reading stock charts looking for opportunities. But after discovering John Bogle’s book and finally understanding how simple investing could be, I decided my financial life was going to change.

During a free day when dad was has having chemo treatment, I started to sift through my old financial statements and began to realize just how big of a mess my financial life really was. Something clicked that day and I made a promise to myself that I would organize myself and finally (at 41), I decided to become a responsible adult.

I dusted off old stock certificates that were childhood gifts, and understood what types of unit trusts I owned. I then sold most of the shares and all the actively managed unit trusts and purchased three simple tracker funds. That was that.

Then came peer to peer lending.

Back in 2012, I had been investing in property but was finding it difficult to obtain financing. Despite my dad suggesting peer to peer lending as a solution, I avoided looking into this as debt scares me.

Jump forward to 2014, I stumbled upon a Ratesetter ad offering compelling 7% interest returns. I then began researching the peer to peer lending sector as a whole and became more cautiously optimistic. After several months of research, I took a £500 leap of faith and invested in Ratesetter’s one month loan product. After a few more months of receiving on time payments, I increased my investment amount and then branched out into other lending platforms. Next came Wellesley & Co, then Saving Stream, Moneything and Funding Circle. The rest is history.

As for my dad, unfortunately he passed away on March 31st, 2015. I was lucky enough to be by his side for the last two months of his life. I sat by his hospice bedside for two weeks and slept in his room at night. It was both painful and humbling. I’ll certainly never forget watching him take his last breath while I held his hand.

While researching peer to peer lending, I found there was very little information on the web. That’s why I decided to create Financial Thing and the unbiased peer to peer lending reviews and investing articles.

There have been times in my life where I have struggled and prayed for a helping hand to pull me out of the pit. Luckily I’ve had people in my life with giving and selfless hearts. People who wanted me to succeed like they had.

To be honest I’m a bit of an idealist. I think human beings are amazing creatures. I see this when I read of a new invention or watch someone play a guitar effortlessly without looking at the strings. If we all helped each other to succeed, this world would be an incredibly better place to live. Life is short and money comes and goes; what’s important is the experiences we have and the legacies we leave behind. My wish for all Financial Thing readers is that they be successful and informed. There’s nothing that makes me happier than seeing someone succeed financially, and if I can be of some help to make that happen, then I will have lived a fulfilled and happy life.

So that’s how Financial Thing was birthed. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. If it weren’t for dad constantly hounding me to grow up and take care of my finances, and for uttering the words “peer to peer lending”, this website wouldn’t exist.

I only write reviews about peer to peer lending sites I’ve invested my own money into. I have been approached by other peer to peer companies who would like Financial Thing’s exposure, but I have declined. There are plenty of websites offering generic information about all the lending platforms. I want to believe that other review sites are unbiased and genuine, but I have doubts. If you are like me, you want to read about real life good and bad experiences from people who have invested into these companies, not generic reviews. That’s what Financial Thing offers.

My end goal is to create value for my readers so their investing path is less time consuming and hazardous than mine. This website wasn’t created to be a money maker and I never envisioned making a single penny from the site, but please know by clicking on the ads or opening accounts through my links, you make a big difference and help me to cover costs. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I hope you enjoy reading the articles as much as I enjoy writing them.

For anyone that is interested in a little personal background:

I grew up in Grimsby (yes, really) and Skegness (no Skeggy jokes please), before moving to Poole in Dorset. I then became infatuated with America as a result of childhood obsessions with red Ford Mustang’s, The A-Team, Ponch and WWF wrestling. In 1992, I packed my limited edition Hulk Hogan backpack and traveled to New York City where I had a Colin type experience, minus the American girls. I met two Scottish girls at JFK airport who told me to go to the top of the World Trade Center. At least I think that’s what they said (I still can’t understand the Scottish accent). That building I once stood on, marveling the sights and sounds of human creation, is now gone.

After two days of New York City sightseeing aboard an obligatory clichéd London double decker bus, I headed off to the cultural shock capital of the world, Slippery Rock Pennsylvania, population 3,000. Slippery Rock was a dry town (no bars) so naturally massive house parties were a daily occurrence. Two years and many hang overs later, I transferred to the University of South Florida, hoping to improve on my “C-” average. I graduated two years later with a degree in Communication, a degree I once thought to be useless. I now use this degree daily.

I still spend time in both sometimes sunny Poole, and mostly sunny Orlando. In my spare time, I write books about real estate, poker and I volunteer and help others with financial coaching. My life goals are to give more than I take, retire at 60, and ride a motorcycle across beautiful terrain (not sure where yet).

If you have any questions about peer to peer lending or anything other than relationship advice, please feel free to contact me. 🙂

I am here to help.

– Laurence