At 60, Rest Less member Phil Aspden decided to sell his company to step outside of his comfort zone and try something new. Although Phil began drawing money from his pension, his plan was never to stop working altogether. Instead, he went searching for a meaningful, flexible opportunity that would keep his mind engaged. Eight months on, Phil is making a difference to others as a Financial Coach, and still has plenty of time to pursue other interests, and spend time with his family…
Dad-of-one Phil, who lives in Manchester with his wife Janice, daughter Sally and rescue dog Luna, has had a long and varied career. First as a librarian, working his way up to a senior position, and then running two subsequent companies – one focused on organisational development and the next on e-learning and knowledge transfer. However, late last year Phil felt it was time to sell up and take on a new challenge.
Reflecting on his decision, Phil says, “I was a bit concerned about what I would do after I sold my business, but also quite pleased to be moving on. I tend to embrace change and enjoy the challenge of something new. I didn’t need to carry on working because I was able to start drawing from my workplace pension, but I wanted to work. I think that’s an important distinction. I’ve never liked the idea of what is sometimes described as the ‘cliff-edge of retirement’ where you just suddenly stop working altogether. I think it’s always good to have something purposeful that you’re doing, and I fancied doing something completely outside of my comfort zone.”
A new chapter...
After selling his company, Phil set up an office at home and was fully prepared for “a bit of a holiday” while he looked for his next role. But, in almost no time at all, he was starting a new journey as a Financial Coach, after responding to a job posting on the Rest Less website. He says, “I was genuinely delighted to come across Rest Less because it has so many interesting things to offer. I also felt reassured that they knew the age of the target audience, so we’re looking to harness people with experience and skills. That gave me real confidence to feel like I could go ahead and apply for a job through their website.
“I saw a vacancy for a Financial Coach, with a financial planning company called Hatch. This appealed to me straight away because it was flexible and home-based. I’d also not worked in finance before, so it gave me an opportunity to push myself. I applied for the role and they responded really quickly, which for me is quite a big thing. It can be quite depressing when you register your interest in something, knowing that you have a lot to offer but that you still don’t get any sort of response.
“I had two video interviews with Hatch, followed by a few weeks of online training with a mentor – which was excellent. By the end of those weeks, when I’d done a few real cases, my mentor passed me, and I became a qualified Financial Coach. It all felt very well organised and controlled but wasn’t a long drawn-out process, which was good.”
“When you get to 60 you end up with a lot of accumulated financial knowledge, so I knew more than I thought”
Having never worked in finance before, Phil was surprised by the amount of financial knowledge and experience he already had under his belt when he started training. He attributed this mostly to life experience – managing his money, his mother’s money, and seeking help from financial advisors over the years. He’d also had to manage money in his role as a business owner.
He says, “When you get to 60, you end up with a lot of accumulated financial knowledge, so I knew more than I thought. Having said that, throughout the training, I realised that some of the things I’d done with my own finances in the past weren’t as good as I believed they were! They could have been better – so that’s an interesting bit of learning, even if a bit late!”
Phil was optimistic about moving into a new line of work, and can confidently say that – eight months on – he is still content with the choices that he has made. This is largely because of the sense of reward he gains from helping people to make positive changes to their lives. Offering a couple of examples, he says, “Sometimes I speak to people who are very competent with their finances and what you do is just acknowledge what they’re doing. But for other people, the coaching really does make a significant difference to their circumstances.”
“I think my favourite thing about the role is helping people to discover simple things they can do that can really make a big difference to their current or future circumstances. For example, letting people know about how a lifetime ISA could help them to come up with the deposit for their first mortgage sooner. Or prompting people under 30 to consider how they could create flexible retirement options for themselves by planning early.”
“I’m also a guitar player and I’m currently working with a man that I used to be in a group with when I was 18. We’re going to remotely create some tracks - so it’s nice to have the time to go back to that”
After spending many years working in busy offices in Manchester, Phil finds working from home to be a refreshing change, and he couldn’t be happier with his flexible setup. His wife Janice – who also works from home – has an office in the garden, while Phil has made the conservatory his workstation. He says, “We get to look at each other across the garden! We’ve both got fantastic places to work, and I feel really lucky that I’m able to do this job from home – especially in the current climate. I’m delighted with the way things turned out, and the role offers me the lifestyle that I was looking for.
“For me, a typical work day always starts with an hour and a half walk with my dog Luna. I then have phone appointments with people throughout the day. So I just look at those in my diary, work out what I’ve got to do to prepare for those appointments. I work until around 5.30/6pm, and although that doesn’t sound very flexible – I’ve got flexibility during the day if I want it. In my previous role, I worked my longer days, so what I’m doing now suits me just fine and I still have time for other things.
“For example, I’m Chairman of the Board for Citizens Advice and I’m also on the board of People’s Voice Media – a project which uses video to help people tell their stories. These voluntary roles allow me to get involved with causes that I feel quite strongly about, and I’m glad that I’m able to help. I’m also a guitar player and I’m currently working with a man that I used to be in a group with when I was 18. We’re going to remotely create some tracks – so it’s nice to have the time to go back to that.
“I also get to spend more time with my family. I have one daughter and I was in my 40s when we had her, so parenting a teenage girl at 60 certainly keeps me on my toes! I also get to spend a lot more time walking our dog Luna, which I thoroughly enjoy (and so does she).”
Now that Phil has settled into his next life chapter, he says that this is where he plans to stay for the next 10-15 years. As with all job roles, life as a Financial Coach does come with challenges, but fortunately for Phil this is just what he was looking for. He explains that the most difficult thing about the role is having a lot of complex financial information to remember. But for Phil, this is more of a challenge than a problem, because he says it helps his brain to stay active and engaged.
“I think that one of the worst things you can do as you get a bit older is to relax into a comfort zone because that’s a slippery slope - so try to push yourself”
Looking back to last year, when he was preparing to sell his company, Phil remembers what an exciting yet unsettling time it was. But sharing what he’s learnt from it so far, he says:
“I think if you’ve been doing something your entire life and you feel expert in that thing, it is daunting to do something different. It can also be daunting to work with a whole new set of people. But actually, it’s that sort of challenge that keeps you very mentally alert, so it’s not something to shy away from.
“I think that one of the worst things you can do as you get older is to relax into a comfort zone because that’s a slippery slope – so try to push yourself. As we age, it’s important that we keep ourselves active, and challenge ourselves. I think I knew that I wouldn’t be happy just sitting at home watching the clock and I’m really happy that I made a change. I haven’t looked back since…”