“I wish I’d been told to spend money doing things rather than owning shiny things.”

Darren Cooke has been working in financial services for more than 26 years. A Chartered Financial Planner (CII), a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society (PFS), and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (MCSI), Darren set up Red Circle Financial Planning in 2012. He is a keen advocate of life being for living and believes a flexible work-life balance is crucial to this. We couldn’t agree more!

Darren was recommended for the IFW Showcase by Sue Wilmot Rowe, who says: “I was introduced to Darren in August 2020 and he introduced me to The Financial Wellbeing Book by Chris Budd and to the IFW and has since become my financial advisor.”

What greater endorsement could you have than that?!

What’s your happiest memory?

That’s a tough one but I’ll go for on holiday in Spain bodyboarding with my kids and all 5 of us catching the same wave and riding it into shore together.

Doing stuff with family is the best, just mucking about and having fun.

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

I studied economics at school and my father taught me that there are no pockets in shrouds. He died when I was 15 and I got involved with helping my mum invest his life insurance money so I was exposed to this world at quite a young age.

I have wasted money over the years buying stupid stuff though and I wish I’d been told to spend money doing things rather than owning shiny things.

What prompted you to join the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing?

I had bought and read The Financial Wellbeing Book long before and listened to the podcasts. Then they ran the first conference which I attended and the IFW grew out of that. I was more than happy to be a founder member. I wanted this movement to grow and reach more people in our profession.

What drew you to financial wellbeing in the first place?

It was a natural extension to what I was already doing with my financial planning work. To me this was the next logical step to take in moving forwards with that and adding more depth to my conversations and interactions with clients.

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

I don’t think there is one big thing – it’s just an accumulation of knowledge and skills really from the IFW Conferences, Wellbeing Cafés, Roundtables and regional events. I’m doing the Financial Wellbeing Certificate course right now and that is bringing so much of that together along with new information as well.

The best thing has been interacting and learning from fellow professionals all trying to help each other and move in a similar direction to improve the way we work with clients.

How has the way you work with clients changed since you joined?

I’m more conscious of how I interact with clients now, the questions I ask and how I phrase them and how I listen to the answers.

I’m also more aware of how people talk about money and look to pick up clues about their feelings about money and then change the way I talk with them.

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

The Financial Wellbeing Book is still my bible, I have read it every year since I bought it.

What are you doing to advance your own financial wellbeing?

I used to set myself business goals that were financial, but they were just a means to an end, if I earn this much money then we can do that. Now I just cut out the middleman and my goals are based on doing stuff with the family. That still means I have to earn the money to pay for them but it also means I have to have the time to do them as well.