Financial Planning Week interview with Will Greenwood MBE

England rugby star and former British Lion, Will Greenwood MBE, addressed journalists at a press briefing sponsored by Aviva, for the sixth Financial Planning Week campaign on Wednesday 13 November. Here are his thoughts on why people should DO IT NOW when it comes to Financial Planning: 

Question 1: In your experience, are there different issues that professional sportspeople face when it comes to planning their finances compared to those in more “traditional” careers?

WG: In many respects yes, although the basics remain the same for everyone.

a.Income – professional sportspeople can find that their income starts very low but then rises significantly at early age. Only very few top players will ever earn “big” money though. Earnings post-sports are often lower, so we need to prepare and plan ahead for that. It’s not all plain sailing though, an injury could result in someone’s professional career, and thus high income earning period, being cut short.

b.Next career after sport – For professional sportspeople it’s important to decide what want to do well in advance. It helps to get qualified and preferably get some work experience whilst still playing/competing so you can maximise your chances of achieving your goal.

c.Protection – Injury is most sports people’s greatest concern. Need to assess what income protection you need & then ensure you’ve got appropriate insurance in place too. Injury risk is also a reason for planning early for the next career.


Question 2: In the consumer survey we did for Financial Planning Week, only 4% said they had a comprehensive financial plan in place. What does financial planning mean to you?

WG: Money is just a means to an end after all. Good Financial Planning means peace of mind, achieving my goals in life, maintaining family lifestyle. It’s also important in helping me to pursue the career of my choosing.


Question 3: What do you think are the main issues that people who don’t plan their finances properly might be facing in future?

WG Stress, on-going problems maintaining preferred lifestyle, possibly have to take work that pays the bills rather than work they would enjoy, not managing to achieve their goals in life – failing to reach their own expectations.


Question 4 : Why do you think many professional sports people don’t plan their finances as well as perhaps they should?

WG:Because as professional sportspeople most of us think we are invincible and immortal until we realise we aren’t!!!


Question 5: How important do you think it is for people to get professional Financial Planning advice? Why?

WG: It’s extremely important. In rugby it is essential for all players to have a long-term financial plan that not just covers the term (hopeful term), of their playing career, but also looks beyond that into their secondary careers and ultimately retirement. However, regardless of what career people follow, they need a financial plan to keep them on track towards their goals. Having healthy finances provides security, peace of mind and a level of choice. Unhealthy finances result in stress and on-going problems.


Question 6: Do you think that there are things that people can do to plan their finances better even without getting professional help?

WG:Yes, I think there is a lot that people can do. Even if it’s just the basics like working out a proper budget, getting into the habit of spending less than you earn, avoiding unnecessary debt and getting used to putting some money aside each month for emergencies will all help. There’s also a lot that people can do to protect their family in case of illness or premature death, like making sure that they have a valid will in place for example.


Question 7 : What can the Financial Planning profession do to help motivate people to take better control of their finances and plan ahead? In particular, are there specific things you think we could do to help get our message across, so we educate people on how to manage their finances better and help them make more informed financial decisions?

WG:I think that Financial Planning Week is a great initiative in this context. It’s get back to basics approach is to be applauded. Education is important as is simplifying what can sometimes be thought of as complex. Focus on delivering meaningful benefits to people, helping them to identify what they want from life then work out a plan to get there. That’s quite different to providing advice on financial products like pensions or ISAs. Re-earn the public’s trust by showing it puts the customer’s interests first and foremost. Provide a clear way of securing qualified Professional Financial Planning advice which will add real value to people’s lives – and at a reasonable cost too.


Question 8: Next year Financial Planning will become part of the national curriculum in schools in England. How important do you think this is?

WG: It is essential that everyone learns how to manage their finances properly. Financial responsibility and financial competence are key skills people need if they are to flourish throughout their lives. Unfortunately these vital qualities have sadly been ignored in the past.


Question 9: What was the biggest financial gamble you’ve had to take?


a.Marrying my wife!!

b.Sporting/professional decisions, retirement from playing, or maybe investment decisions, house purchase etc.


Question 10: What have you had to plan for financially and how did you do this?

WG: One of the main big picture plans for me is to prepare for my children’s education. In particular I’d like to help them to get access to excellent sporting facilities which not all schools can supply.  Setting aside money each month has been really important in this respect.


Question 11 IFP: In the survey we’ve done for Financial Planning Week 2013, 82% of people told us they worry about money. Do you worry about money?

WG: Yes I do. I worry because I am keen to make sure I provide for my family, I am no different from any parent. Money is just a means to an end, and a way of ensuring that we achieve what we want out of life. However, there’s always the possibility of unforeseen events de-railing the best made plans so it’s important to have a plan “b” – to protect yourself and your family should the unfortunate circumstances occur of things not going according to plan.


Will Greenwood appears for Financial Planning Week courtesy of Aviva. A video clip is available from here.