Blog – by Moneypenny’s Mate!

In Layman’s language

First things first. An introduction. I’m a man who loves words. Words=sentences=inspiration. Youthful in mind if not body. A friend of Guido’s. And sometimes referred to as Moneypenny’s mate.

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Plus I’m a Layman. In fact, I’m the Layman in question. This is my blog.

For a kick-off, it’s the name I’m saddled with. Mr Layman, first initial A.

And then there is the dictionary definition of Layman:

1: A non-ordained male member of a Church, eg: ‘he was an active Catholic layman’.

2: A person without professional or specialised knowledge in a particular subject.

Now, I don’t fall into the Church/Catholic bracket. Far from it. Between you, me and the big man upstairs, I actually have a Methodist ‘sort of’ background. But I’m a lapsed Layman in that regard……

No, I fall spectacularly into the second bracket. A ‘person without professional or specialised knowledge in a particular subject’.

The ‘particular subject’ is finance.

Look, I wholeheartedly admit it. Words not numbers resonate more deeply with me. I prefer perfectly written prose to financial figures. I even plump for fiction over fact, which is not surprising given that my favourite book of all time is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

And despite my mate Moneypenny’s protestations, give me Match of the Day over The Money Programme on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday!

And yet and yet……

When it comes to finance I’m at the back of the (banking) queue! My good lady wife is my personal financial adviser! I just watch my money distributed wherever she deems right, fit and proper. I generally nod my head in agreement, or be left scratching said head when she says ‘sit down I’ll go through the books with you’.

Now I’m passionate about reading, but when my better half suggests ‘doing the books’ she won’t be talking about ‘normal books’. I won’t be having a nice cup of coffee while delving into John Connolly’s sublime Charlie Parker series. Oh no. In her universe, for books read household financial spreadsheets!

Even now, if someone were to ask me where I’d put my money if I had the ultimate choice, I’d plump for the Iron Bank of Braavos (“The Iron Bank of Braavos is richer and more powerful than all the other banks in the Free Cities combined. It lends money all over Essos and Westeros, including to the King of the Seven Kingdoms, but it has a fearsome reputation when collecting debts.”)

I actually came across the formidable Iron Bank while reading a particularly enjoyable book from author George RR Martin……

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I‘d picked up Martin’s tumultuous tome after finally admitting defeat in another lengthy book – Poor Charlie’s Almanack; The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T Munger – which had been given me, very enthusiastically, by Lifetime MD Ian Dickinson. Admittedly, there was a lot of wit and wisdom from the billionaire business sidekick of Warren Buffett, and a lot of plain common sense to boot, but I’m sorry to say that the financial aspects of the Almanack just didn’t ‘float my boat’.

And yet and yet……

And yet I find myself tasked with writing for a financial management company. Lifetime. Headquarters in Barnsley. Another office in Driffield.

A mutual coming together; Lifetime, a forward-thinking business that’s steeped in financial know-how, and me, a man who knows very little about the world of pensions, investments and the like, but who loves to write and has a steady stream of ideas (some of them probably far above his station).

As Billy Bragg once sang, ‘Strange Things Happen’……

I often think my friend Guido is a bit like me. He tries to keep things simple. Summing up his financial world view, he often says ‘you put some in, you take some out’. He reflects it is more about life’s ‘big questions’, the sort he and his family often ask themselves when they talk about living the life they want to live.

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My mate Moneypenny, on the other hand, is mad keen on all things financial: the nuts and bolts, the facts and figures, the i’s and the t’s, the buying and the selling. Moneypenny likes nothing better that spending hours of the day mulling over the minutiae of pension law and strategy, of investments, of assets that best suits the risk, the portfolio of index tracking funds, the…….

Sorry about that (quick shake of head), where was I? Ah, the financials. Rather baffles me I’m afraid.

But not everyone is the same. We are all allowed to be different, to think differently. Steve Jobs said as much.

So I think I’ll be different too. A non-finance person writing a personal blog – and touching on financial subjects – that will appear regularly on the website of a financial management company. It’s almost as wacky a notion as snow falling outside the window of the office where I’m writing these words, on the last Tuesday in April!

And yet and yet……

Just the idea of it piques my sense of [childish] wonder, which is still embedded in my soul, emerging from its place of rest and gleaming brightly, some would say cheekily, from time to time, despite the efforts of numerous people to dampen such mad enthusiasm.

It’s going to be a very interesting journey.

Putting finance in Layman’s language. I’ll be frank about the subject. Just don’t call me Andy!

– Andrew Layman (Moneypenny’s mate).

 

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