“I realised the accumulation of stuff wasn’t what I want my life to be about.”

Adam Owen, Director and Head of Content at NextGen Planners, has joined the IFW as a Non-Executive Director. He has held advisory roles within direct sales and the IFA sector and is also a regular columnist for New Model Adviser and Money Marketing Magazine.  

Adam will chair Alex Whitson’s breakout session at the IFW Conference

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Non-member tickets are available here.

How would you summarise your passions, both in and out of work?

I’ve always believed that if you can find something that you love to do and then do it as a job, it never feels like work and I am very lucky to have found that. Collaboration is the central focus of what I do as we amplify our achievements when we work together. Away from work I have many projects. I am about to start converting a day van into a full camper van.

My wife Andrea was diagnosed with Young Onset Alzheimer’s last year so we bought the van to create a safe space for her if she becomes disorientated when we go out. We completed the first stage of the conversion together and we will continue to work on the next stage together so that she really feels connected to it and everything is very familiar. Away from van life, Andrea and I volunteer at the local Cat Protection Centre and we seem to have accidentally opened our very own retirement home for cats.

What’s your happiest memory?

I’ve learned recently that memories should not be taken for granted. With Andrea’s condition we focus very much on the present and live in a timeline of yesterday, today and tomorrow. We focus on creating happy moments every day and on the things that Andrea can do rather than the things that she maybe struggles with now. Recently she has been re-learning to ride a horse with a great team of people from the RDA. These more recent memories are the happiest for me as it is quality time, when we are together.

What one thing do you wish you’d been told about finance when you were 15?

You don’t need to pay tens of thousands of pounds for a decent car, and it can be very satisfying driving an 18-year-old Landrover Freelander.

What made you want to work in finance?

I’d been working as a food retail manager and found that providing the people of Manchester with yogurt wasn’t the thing that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Financial Planning was an attractive career option as I could see that if I applied the work ethic I’d learned from doing 12-hour days in retail, I could maybe create something interesting.

How did this lead you to the IFA sector, and then to become a director and head of content at NextGen Planners?

After some time gaining experience and qualifications, I set up my first IFA business in 1999. This developed into a group of companies that included a compliance division working with directly authorised firms. Eventually, I moved out of advice and into compliance and did some interesting projects with the regulator completing s166 reviews. This is what got me interested in learning and development, so I became an accredited trainer with the CII and was involved in the early design and delivery of financial services apprenticeships which ultimately led me to meet Rohan and Adam C, my fantastic co-directors at Nextgen Planners.

Some time on the board at the Personal Finance Society and then the pandemic year as PFS President alongside some time on a regional board of the Chartered Management Institute gave me further insights into the power of community and collaboration which we apply at NextGen Planners to support financial planners from classroom to boardroom.

What drew you to financial wellbeing in the first place and what prompted you to join the Institute for Financial Wellbeing?

The values of the IFW are very aligned with my thinking when it comes to money. It took many years for me to realise that the accumulation of stuff wasn’t what I wanted my life to be about.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt about financial wellbeing since joining?

Financial wellbeing shouldn’t be considered as something exclusively for people who have lots of money. Everyone in society has a relationship with money – financial wellbeing shouldn’t just be about creating happiness from wealth. At the end of the 20th century, our relationship with money and the money narrative of western societies developed in a way that seems not to have created more happiness.

Having gained institute status, the IFW has an opportunity to engage with as many people as possible to help to re-shape our relationship with money in the 21st century.

Who or what is your favourite wellbeing guru, podcast or book?

I don’t tend to read or listen to very much and so don’t have a favourite. It is very easy to fall into a habit of constantly consuming information and feel like we are developing our skills and knowledge. Although to some extent this is true, we are here for such a very short time and I like to measure my time by how much I produce rather than how much I consume.

So, if I see a problem that I think I can solve, I research what I need at that time to help me to solve that problem. This leads me to explore content that I would never have imagined myself reading or listening to.

What are you doing to advance your own financial wellbeing?

I always planned to at least semi-retire in my early fifties, and that’s still the plan. My next focus will be to design life around living sustainably and more in tune with the environment and to find a use for some of that unnecessary stuff I accumulated over the year. Much that it has been nice to own a collection of guitars, I can only play one at a time.