Daniel Donnelly, founder of international property brokerage firm Sherwood Finance, never intended to become his business to also become a financial educator but then he discovered just how woeful the standards of financial literacy are in society.
Here, he discusses why he is on a crusade to educate young adults—potentially tomorrow’s clients—about money matters, including through his new book. Two years in the making, Finance Tips And Tricks For Young Adults is the best investment a young person can make.
When I founded mortgage brokerage company Sherwood Finance, I did so with the ethos that ‘We Are On Your Side’.
Our mission was, and remains, to provide a tailored financial service for commercial and residential property purchases. Initially, this was launched in Australia—servicing clients in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney—but has since expanded to the UK, my home country, where we can currently service commercial businesses.
It was important to me to go that extra mile in supporting clients as, having worked my way up through the property brokerage industry before launching my own company, I knew from experience that business owners or homebuyers simply can’t count on the banks to extend the same courtesy. It seems that these financial institutions are most concerned about the size of client’s wallet, and servicing their shareholders, than offering advice.
Yet while I was more than happy to provide financial counsel when requested, I never envisaged that Sherwood Finance would go further, evolving to incorporate a broader educational arm to the business.
The trigger for this development came through my interaction with clients. I soon noticed a pattern among those who were parents—namely, that they would bemoan the lack of sound financial education available for their children.
I’ll always remember a conversation with one client in particular, where he told me that he’d grown so desperate that he’d taken his children into the local High Street bank to ask one of the clerks to provide some basic guidance.
Of course it’s not a clerk’s job to do so, but I was nevertheless upset to hear that my client had been unceremoniously brushed off, with his children leaving just as clueless as they’d arrived.
I realised that financial literacy—inarguably a key life skill—is the exception rather the rule. Small wonder when you learn that, for some unfathomable reason, it is not a compulsory part of secondary education.
Having studied finance at the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF), I was one of the lucky ones. But for the rest? You only need to refer to the LIBF’s Young Persons’ Money Index study to find the answer: some 67 percent of young people in the UK now regularly worry about their personal finances.
And they are right to worry, because without a proper grounding in financial matters such as spending and saving, loans and investments, taxes and insurance, the likelihood of falling into financial difficulties once you enter the workplace is significantly higher.
Though I had a business to run and grow, I took it upon myself to help. Using what free time I had, I worked on a book that would provide this basic financial education to young readers.
Finance Tips And Tricks For Young Adults has taken me two years to write and publish, but it is now out and, given the increasing financial pressures that many are facing thanks to Covid and global conflict, it couldn’t come at a better time.
While writing the book I did my own informal research, speaking with hundreds of people across the UK to get a better idea of how clued up young adults really are about finance.
I found that the overwhelming majority of 14 to 17-year-olds are blissfully unaware of the simplest monetary concepts, with some 60 percent confusing the meaning of ‘credit’ and ‘debit’ and more than half reckoning that the average UK mortgage repayment is around £100 per month (the correct figure is £753).
Just over 10 percent had no notion of what common terms such as ‘interest’, ‘bankruptcy’, and ‘overdraft’ meant, yet nearly all of the young people I spoke with believed that they would live in a house worth more than £500,000, would retire before 60, and that they would earn a six-figure wage!
I sincerely hope their beliefs come true, and that one day they become valued clients of Sherwood Finance, but without the rudimentary financial acumen this is extremely unlikely.
It is for them, and all young adults, that I have spent my own time and money to bring out Finance Tips And Tricks For Young Adults. It provides up-to-date, easy-to-digest information on tax, lending, credit reporting, and budgeting—all they need to get going to establish positive financial habits.
In addition, the book is supported by a free app that will test their new-found knowledge, and I’ve now turned my attention to writing a second book in what I envisage will rapidly become a series: Finance Tips And Tricks For Business Owners.
Now, more than ever, financial education should be considered a necessity, not an option. Perhaps policy makers will finally realise this and take the necessary steps but, in the meantime, it is the least that business owners like myself—those who hold all this crucial knowledge—can do to help.
Finance Tips And Tricks For Young Adults by Daniel J Donnelly is out now on Amazon, published through Sherwood Finance Limited and priced £11.50 in paperback and £7.20 as an eBook. For more information about Sherwood Finance, visit www.sherwoodfinance.co.uk or follow the company on Facebook (@sherwood01), Twitter (@Financesherwood) or Linkedin (‘Sherwood Finance’).
Q&A INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL DONNELLY
Why do you believe it is important that young people receive sound financial education?
Because I know the consequences without it. When I was starting out in the finance industry, I encountered clients who had credit defaults—which affected their future financially. Financial Illiteracy is an obstacle faced by societies throughout the world, affecting individuals, families, and communities. Unchecked, it slowly starts to affect the local economy and eventually spreads out to the global level. It’s been said before that the indirect way to tackle poverty is through education.
Aside from your books, what would you like to see happen to better educate young people about finance?
We need an ‘essential financial matters’ class for school leavers. That should not be hard to implement, surely? At Sherwood Finance we are developing further products and a YouTube channel that makes learning about finance more enjoyable. Of course, not all young adults need our help, but most do.
Do you think businesses also have a role to play in the financial education of young people?
Although business owners have enough to focus on, they have sound financial acumen so why not pass this experience onto employees? The benefits in terms of improving financial wellness, and reducing financial-related stress (which can impact performance and output), far outweigh the investment.
What led you to launch your own business?
My grandparents started and managed successful businesses so from an early age I was considering venturing into business. Whilst working as an employee I became aware that clients were not getting the service that they deserved and I knew I could deliver something better.
As a business owner, what has been the biggest challenge you have overcome?
Deciding to start the business and then handing in my resignation! The first years thereafter were the hardest, implementing system and adapting to economic changes.
Not all mortgage brokers are created equal. What are the red flags that business owners should watch out for when searching for a mortgage broker?
When searching for a mortgage broker always keep in mind that they specialise in different sectors so it’s best to go with a specialist, a bit like with a doctor. If your matter is complex, finding an experienced broker is vital. Many brokers see the potential to earn income but they won’t tell you that they don’t have any experience in a particular sector so be very cautious dealing with someone inexperienced.
What are your plans for Sherwood Finance moving forward?
Targeting financial education for young adults on a global level because we view this as an international problem that needs attention, and fast. We are developing new products, our YouTube channel, and seeking out investors while continuing to offer commercial financing in Australia and the UK.