One winter Friday afternoon, we sat down and got to know Dharmesh. Born and bred in Bolton, but currently living in London, we discovered exactly what the Finance Business Partner got out of his financial coaching experience with Octopus.
Hi Dharmesh! We like to start our chats with a little bit about yourself, if that’s okay.
Of course. I’m Dharmesh, I currently live in East London, but I was born in Bolton. It’s been a crazy change going from smaller cities all of my life to this place! I live with my wife, we actually got married at the beginning of this year. It was a small wedding of 30 people – it sounds cliche – but it was the absolute best day of my life! I currently work as a Finance Business Partner, in theory I do for the company what I should be doing with my finances. We’re expecting our first kid in May, so it’s time to start doing some planning of our own.
Wow. So is that what got you interested in financial coaching?
Pretty much. My personal financial planning journey started around 12-18 months ago. We had a speaker come in to work, who gave a talk on financial freedom and it just really got me thinking. The key starting point was visibility and just understanding where you actually spend your money, like in bars or eating out. I then saw something for Octopus Money through work and I thought it made sense for me and my wife to try it. I wanted to optimise what we’re doing, because people don’t tell you how expensive having a child is!
Did you have any preconceptions about financial coaching before you started?
Honestly, not really. I was expecting it to be less prescriptive than it was. There was such a solid, detailed, plan which was completely tailored to exactly what I needed. I think I thought it would just be more of a general chat about investments and pensions. It was a really pleasant surprise.
Before coaching, was there anyone else in your life you would speak to for financial advice?
Yes, I have different people for different things! There’s one friend who I speak to about investments, pensions and longer term pieces, because she’s very much into the stock market etc. Big financial decisions I tend to talk to my parents as a sounding board. There’s lots of people in my life who are good sounding boards actually.
Was your first chat with your coach what you expected?
It was much more of a life chat, which I think is really important. It was nice to have that initial connection, so your coach understands a bit about who you are and why you’re there. I often find that’s missing in most consulting type things. My coach was really structured in the way she approached our chat and I think, especially when it comes to your finances, you sort of need that template/structure to work it all out. It started out a bit more free form – what is the state of your finances, why are you doing this. Then we moved onto my goals, which was really interesting. So often you’re engrossed in those mid term targets of 12-18 months away, but it’s great to think about further down the line and how you can get to where you want to be. In short, my coach was great and super friendly.
What are some of those big goals you’re working towards?
Financially it’s making sure there’s some money to help my kid with. Whether it’s for a house deposit or uni fees – I’d love to be able to do that. The second one is paying off my mortgage! Third is retiring at 55. On a personal level, I’d love to be a grandad one day. A really cool one.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve taken from coaching?
I think the key thing is that it’s brought those events which are 20-30 years down the line, into things you can actually start actioning now. A lot of people will say retirement is far away, but actually if you want to have a comfortable retirement – that’s something that takes a lot of work now.
So is your wife joining your sessions?
The first session was just me, but then I asked for my wife to be put in the plan. It made sense as we’re having a baby!
Why do you think money is still a bit of a taboo topic?
My wife and I were literally discussing this earlier today. I think it’s the whole “stiff upper lip”. In British social circles, there’s almost a point of embarrassment if you earn more than your friends, you don’t want to say it because you feel like your wealth might make them uncomfortable. And if you earn less, you don’t want people to look down on you. There’s still this notion of hierarchy – you see it in the workplace all the time. People respect other people because they have certain titles and I think that trickles down to all parts of our psychology.
Do you think there’s a benefit to being more open?
100%. As soon as you bring things into the fore and make them visible, you create accountability for yourself or those around you. You then also share all your positive and negative experiences for people to learn from. My coach and I had a session on pensions and I learned things I never knew before – I thought to myself “I should message my friends about this”. Because it’s not advice people would often seek, so then they miss out. I don’t think I ever would have known if work hadn’t offered me financial coaching!
We provide dedicated financial coaching to help you achieve all your goals and improve your overall well being. Want to find out more? Book your first session here.