Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark – MAF197

On the show this week, I talk to Andy Couchman, co-founder of Protection Review.

We chat about how the Protection Review Conference, Dinner and Awards has grown to become one of the premiere financial services events of the year and the new “I Mark” which seeks to recognise true innovation.

Welcome to episode 197 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Andy Couchman on Protection Review and the launch of the I Mark - MAF197

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Andy started Protection Review with another financial services luminary, Peter Le Beau
  • The process Andy goes through to write product reviews and how he scores them
  • What innovation really means in financial services
  • The reasoning behind the launch of the I Mark
  • What companies will have to do to receive the I Mark.

Who is Andy Couchman?

Andy started his career in product marketing roles in various large UK financial services companies.

After leaving corporate life he made a success writing about financial services topics. Together with Peter Le Beau he started Protection Review back in 2003. What started as a paper publication and an annual dinner has turned into a prestigious annual Conference, Dinner and Awards event and a popular website.

Although he has retired from the day to day running of Protection Review, Andy still writes the reviews published each month.

Summary of our chat

In his reviews Andy always remembers that teams of people will have worked hard on launching the product or service he is reviewing. They’ll be looking for the highest score possible. But over the years he’s developed a method of setting a benchmark for the products and services he’s reviewing.

He rarely gives a 10 out of 10. In fact this may only have happened a couple of times.

Until now, Andy has always acknowledged innovation in his reviews. Thinking back to the launch of Critical Illness Cover in 1986 he acknowledges that it was real innovation back then. However the current practice of adding new illnesses and conditions, whilst a good thing because it improves the product, is more evolution than innovation.

That’s why he’s please Protection Review is launching the “I Mark”. It will recognise and promote true innovation in the protection segment of UK financial services.

He’ll still mark his reviews on a scale of 1 to 10, but from now on he’ll also award the I Mark to products and services that offer something different.

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Recommended business book

Andy likes Damon Hill’s Autobiography. The racing driver faced many mental health challenges over the years and Andy thinks this is sobering reading and reiterates how important it is for insurance companies to take care of people with similar issues rather than simply rejecting them for cover.

He also recommends Lucian Camp’s book about financial services marketing. Lucian was my first ever guest on the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Links and contact details

They have a limited number of $500 dollar vouchers available to listeners in America and Canada to spend with the company – either mention the Marketing and Finance Podcast in the chat facility or contact Natalie directly.

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Gwen Merz on Fiery Millennials, financial independence and saving $200k by age 30 – MAF193

On the show this week, I chat to Gwen, the founder of Fiery Millennials, a blog side dedicated to making sense of finances for young people.

We talk about how Gwen saved $200,000 whilst in her twenties  and how she built her blog to help others achieve financial independence.

Welcome to episode 193 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Gwen Merz on Fiery Millennials, financial independence and saving $200 by age 30 - MAF193

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • How Gwen saved rather than spent her money
  • Why Gwen set up the Fiery Millennials blog
  • How she built her website by not following “the rules”
  • Making financial advice less complicated
  • How to make financial services an enticing career option
  • Gwen’s advice to millennials seeking financial independence

Who is Gwen Merz?

Gwen started her blog three and a half years ago after finding a ‘Financially Independent Retiring Early’ (FIRE) community during college. While it provided value, there was no-one young, female and starting out on their financial journey to relate to.

Realising that most bloggers were at a different life stage, Gwen created the blog she wanted to read. It helps her make connections, find new ideas and understand how others live. She worked for a large, globally recognised corporation and intended to retire at 35. By age 27 she’d saved $200,000, which over the next 30 years will compound to $1.5m without additional contributions.

Summary of our chat

Gwen prioritised saving over spending, always putting that first. She divided her paycheck into tax deferred accounts first and she spent the remainder. Gwen graduated debt-free and went straight into a well-paying job. She disliked working and not having freedom to do what she wanted, so did everything possible to get out of office life.

Creating Fiery Millennials to help others achieve what she has, Gwen now finds her story is inspiring people. The blog shows the steps Gwen’s taken and gives her audience ideas for entrepreneurial adventures.

She’s experimented with property management, selling printable downloads, freelance writing and stained-glass making.

Gwen didn’t do any market research before launching Fiery Millennials, because there wasn’t anyone creating what she was looking for. She created her blog to talk about her career, her life and to share tips on what not to do. The blog has attracted an audience of engaged, like-minded people she feels strongly connected to.

Financial advisers need to make their products easier to understand, which is what Gwen does for her audience. This takes away the mystery and overwhelm and encourages them to try things themselves. She offers clear steps to follow and avoids using the confusing jargon that traditional advisers use.

Gwen isn’t trained in classic financial services, but says there’s a level of mistrust around the industry and an assumption advisers promote things they make money from. It needs to be a more attractive career option. Reframing it as a way to help people rather than about raking in commissions would be a positive. Gwen recommends tracking your spending to monitor your finances. Doing this helps you find places where you can make savings in your daily life. Decide what kind of budget would suit you and prioritise saving. Putting money aside first and then spending allows you to hit your goals.

A marketing campaign or product which grabbed Gwen’s attention

Gwen says Amazon have done an amazing job of promoting Amazon Prime Day. Although she has no intention of participating in it, she knows when it is because she’s bombarded with adverts everywhere on the internet.

Recommended business book

Gwen recommends Mindset: Changing the Way You Think to Fulfil Your Potential by Dr Carol Dweck, saying it will help you to change your mindset into a growth mindset.

 

 

 

 

 

Links and contact details

If you enjoyed – Gwen Merz on Fiery Millennials, financial independence and saving $200 by age 30 – please leave a comment or a review on iTunes.

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Kate Stalter on how cognitive biases affect investment decisions – MAF151

This week I talk to Kate Stalter about cognitive biases and how they affect investment decisions.

She’s a journalist turned financial adviser so we also chat about how media coverage can influence people’s biases.

Welcome to episode 151 of the Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Kate Stalter on how cognitive biases affect investment decisions - MAF151

What you’ll hear about in this episode

  • Kate’s career from journalist to financial adviser, and more specifically financial educator
  • How news media across the globe affects investments decisions
  • The US perspective on active versus passive investments
  • Avoiding cognitive biases when making financial planning decisions
  • Home country bias and its effect on investment portfolios

Who is Kate Stalter?

Kate works for Better Money Decisions, a US financial adviser firm, and lives in Albuquerque.

She’s been a journalist writing in-depth market analysis for Investor’s Business Daily. She hosted the Daily Stock Analysis and Market Wrap videos on Investors.com and taught Investor’s Business Daily live seminars throughout the US.

She still contributes to Forbes, US News & World Report and TheStreet, but her main focus is helping clients around the US who face decisions about portfolio allocation, Social Security strategies, insurance needs, estate planning, college funding and all manner of financial questions.

Links:

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