For the 50th podcast, I looked at fitness, finance and the connection between the two. The show was recorded ‘on the road’ and includes my conversation with Rob Caplan (First Wealth) on fitness, nutrition and finances, working out between our chats.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not just about fitness – it’s also about what you eat. Having a healthy body gives you a healthy mindset, which very important to your long-term financial.
The inspiration for this podcast is my friend Rob, who’s been going to classes, gyms and personal trainers for the last couple of years. We’re both financial advisers and both into fitness, so it made sense to talk about why a combination of these is so important.
A Blind Fitness Date
I was a bit apprehensive about what Rob might have in store, but I was keen to find out, and had to hope I wouldn’t be too sore afterwards! As we arrived at the gym, Rob set the scene:
“We’re at Equilibrium to do a TRX session with personal trainer Jay Brockway. We’ll be having some fun and doing functional movements. Let’s see where your fitness is at, Andy!”
TRX stands for Total Resistance Exercise, and we had a hardcore session – Jay didn’t pull any punches and by the end of it we were definitely feeling it! Rob is an old pro at TRX, but it was new to me, although he did concede that I did a better job at my first time than he did.
Rob highlighted the similarity between a personal trainer and a financial adviser – a professional who can talk you through what’s best, whether that’s fitness or with money. It’s about understanding what’s going on, and having someone to help, even if it’s just counting down, means there’s one less thing to think about.
In finance we say we give people tough financial love, and Jay agreed that he gives people tough physical love, saying he tries to educate people on how to move and to help them reach their goals. For new clients, this prepares them for working with heavy weights and why it’s important.
Jay describes the training process: “We start with bodyweights, then add kettlebells and widen the range of exercises that clients are able to do. We teach everything at Equilibrium, because we want people to be fit, fast, strong and ready for anything, so we have the perfect training system to help them achieve this – they have a tailored plan as well.”
People in London tend to go to classes and like to try new things all the time. This means that although they’re exercising, they’re not helping themselves. Jay says that the key is to improve strength, so that cardiovascular exercise is more effective. And what people eat is more important than the exercise they do.
Who is Rob Caplan?
Rob is the founding partner of First Wealth, a lifestyle financial planning business, based in Marylebone, London. He describes what they do by talking about their whys: “We believe that great financial planning can change people’s lives. We exist to inspire ideas, create confidence and ultimately give people freedom to live.” Their ambitious vision is a belief that there’s no such as thing as a recognisable brand in lifestyle financial planning, so they want to fulfil that role.
People are slowly coming around to the need for financial planners, but Rob would like this to happen faster, because what customers want is lifestyle planning support rather than products. He says his role is to inspire people with ideas so they can have freedom to live the way they want, but sticking to their financial plan at the same time.
Who is a Typical First Wealth Client?
The majority of people come to Rob with a specific issue, so he either encourages them to park that and move into coaching and lifestyle planning, or he tries to solve that issue while showing the customer that as part of a larger financial plan it’s not so important.
All financial planners are guilty of sometimes being too evangelical about thinking what we do can solve everything – in a way it can, but we need to follow the money in flow, and support the client. We need to be more aware that the problem a client brings to us is what’s most important to them in the beginning.
From doing so many financial plans, Rob has developed a product called Life Goals, which is a tool to formalise the conversations we have with clients about bigger picture planning. We want to break it down into four key questions – will they be ok, will their family be ok, what do they want to do with their life, and what do they want their legacy to be.
Using the answers to these questions, we can come up with five or six goal-based financial plans, and help the client work out what to do to achieve them, and to see what’s important and what isn’t.
How to Make Clients Future Focused
It’s impossible for clients to imagine far into the future and think about how they want their life to be. Rob says a good financial planner should move away from asking people what retirement looks like and ask instead, what does your perfect day look like?
There’s an automatic assumption that people don’t like their job or what they do, and want to get out of the rat race to drink cocktails in Ibiza, but often that’s not actually the case. Rob says that his perfect day would include the elements of work that he loves, as well as going to the gym.
Good Client Attributes
I’d say that clients should be organised, but of course they come to me for help, so they’re not always organised at the beginning. Being future focused is important though, as is being motivated to sort out their finances and work with a professional. Rob says good clients are those who are clear on how they want to spend their time, and don’t necessarily need a lot of financial coaching.
Why Fitness Matters
Rob hit the nail on the head when he told me: “My productivity improves the fitter and healthier I get and the better I eat. My output at work increases massively.” We sometimes call this the ‘big domino effect’, and in Rob’s case the big domino of exercise knocks down smaller dominoes of diet and work. Rob says that he doesn’t work out to get a six pack, it’s about the mental capacity and how it makes him feel.
He explained that he got into fitness a few years ago at the time of the birth of his first child to help him look and feel better, and so he could run around after his kids. He gave up smoking and decided to look after his heart and eat better.
While it started off being about the physical aspects, Rob says that the mental health benefits are more important. He began by attending Barry’s Bootcamp, doing high intensity interval training with weights and running, and found he became part of a great community.
Rob says fitness is all about moving, rather than about hardcore workouts. He works out 10 times a week, but that’s not all weightlifting in the gym or running as it also includes yoga, stretching and brisk walks. He focuses on the mindfulness aspect of yoga too, which is important to know about.
He recommends a TED talk by neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, who explains how being top of her industry made her overweight and depressed. She moved into health and fitness and what the benefits are for the brain.
Humans are bad at making good long-term decisions for themselves, but Rob says that repeatedly telling people that physical fitness is important for the brain, focus and productivity, is powerful. You can do a brisk walk four times a week, and that’s enough to bring about positive changes.
How Physical Fitness Relates to Financial Fitness
Rob says there are three easy ‘go-tos’ you can use to link fitness with finance:
1. Every single Saturday, Rob plans his exercise for the week ahead, and is also militant with his nutrition. With finance, we talk about the importance of planning and that there’s no point in saving money just for the sake of it. Think about what you’re doing and why. It’s like a financial budget.
2. Goal-based planning is vital for finances and for fitness. It helps focus the mind and to have specific training plans to achieve the goals, and the same applies with finance, whether that’s to retire at a certain age or to help our children.
3. Be prepared for the unexpected. You might be training for an event but have the opportunity to do another one as well or instead, so it’s helpful to get support from an expert. Things will change so you need to be flexible.
Mistakes People Make
Rob says that one of the biggest mistakes people make are what he calls ‘big speeching’ – where they announce they’re only going to eat certain things and attending lots of classes. Going from doing nothing to deciding to run a marathon is setting unrealistic goals and runs the risk of failure.
It’s important to be consistent, whether that’s sticking to a healthy lifestyle or a financial plan. It’s not about extreme measures, because steady planning and small steps will win the day. People try to go big and can’t sustain it when they should build up to it.
Fitness Through Life
Everything needs to be a lifestyle choice, so it’s about things that you think you can do and maintain for the foreseeable future. Rob says he considers what effect an exercise has on his joints and if he will be able to keep it up long-term. He gave up football because he sustained so many injuries he was unable to do other things.
Rob goes to Equilibrium to work with the personal trainers even though he can do it on his own, because they give him pointers, help with movements and hold him accountable to improve his fitness. Working with experts is massively important, even if it’s only once a month, as you can take their advice on board without needing them with you all the time.
Working with a financial planner or coach, whether it’s regularly or just to help you get started so you know why you’re doing what you’re doing, is the same. You need support and advice from a professional.
Interestingly, the coaches never asked us for our opinions. They know the right thing to do and allowed us to try the exercises ourselves, but guided us to the correct way to train. They’re experts in physical fitness and have made all the possible mistakes, so they can help their clients.