Robin Powell first came to my attention with the Evidence-Based Investor documentary, created in conjunction with Richard Wood and Igor Alferovs at Barnett Ravenscroft Wealth Management.
As I’ve discovered over the last few years, Robin does a whole lot more than that.
I asked him 10 questions. Here’s what he had to say:
1. What’s your company called?
I run a content consultancy for financial advice firms called Regis Media.
2. What the hell do you actually do?
I do wear a few different hats!
My day job, if you like, is video production and content marketing that we supply to advice firms via Regis Media. We use content to educate clients and prospects and to manage investor behaviour when markets wobble.
3. What got you fired up about evidence-based investing?
Eight years ago I made a documentary about investing for a Birmingham-based financial planning firm called Barnett Ravenscroft Wealth Management (BRWM). I was amazed at how much evidence there is out there about how to invest and yet most investors do the exact opposite. Worse still, they are positively encouraged to do so, to a great extent, by product providers, financial advisers and the media.
I decided then that my mission was to give people the information they need to make better financial decisions. Incidentally, Sensible Investing TV, the YouTube channel that I worked on with BRWM, has just notched up one million video views. So we’re slowly but surely making progress. (Brett’s Note: It’s an awesome resource by the way)
4. Why do you feel it’s such an important topic?
This isn’t just a major problem — it’s a scandal on a global scale. People have been paying far too much to invest. As a result, they’re achieving significantly lower returns, failing to meet their financial goals and, in many cases, running out of money in their later years.
The ageing population means we have a pensions time bomb. Failure to crack it will cause real hardship and put huge pressure on public finances.
5. Who are your role models or heroes in the investing world? Why?
I’m a big admirer of Mark Hebner at Index Fund Advisors in California. With Regis Media’s help, he has built a hugely profitable business through video content. People think that I’m obsessive about insisting on peer-reviewed academic evidence, but Mark is off the scale.
The late Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard, has had by far the biggest impact on me. I was privileged to interview him twice and he was very supportive of our work. The guy was integrity personified. Nobody has done more for the ordinary investor than him.
6. Which advice firms here in the UK strike you as doing something new and different?
I’m biased, but RockWealth, for me, is the gold standard in financial planning. But there are many good firms around the country, like Bloomsbury in London, Paradigm Norton in Bristol, Carbon in Scotland and PFP in Ireland. All those businesses have one thing in common — everything they do is built on acting in the client’s best interests.
7. Which US firms do you know and respect? What makes them interesting or inspiring to you?
In addition to Index Fund Advisors, I’m a big fan of the Zero Alpha Group, which is an alliance of evidence-based advice firms across the US. I particularly like their collaborative approach; there’s a huge market out there, and the good guys can and should be working together much more than they do.Hill Investment Group is another impressive firm; Matt Hall is inspirational. Finally, Joe Duran’s United Capital has led the way in the financial life planning space. There’s so much that other firms can learn from what they do.
8. Which commentators should advisers follow if they want to know more about evidence-based investment?
To be honest, there still aren’t that many of us! Monevator is an excellent blog, and so is Carolyn Gowen’s The Financial Bodyguard. Thankfully the mainstream financial media is finally getting its act together in its reporting of asset management; the Sunday Times, for example, seems much more on the ball these days. Jason Zweig from the Wall Street Journal has been a huge inspiration to me, as has Jonathan Clements, who used to work at the Wall Street Journal but now runs his own blog, HumbleDollar. Another excellent US blog is Ben Carlson’s A Wealth of Common Sense.
9. Favourite movie of all time?
I’m a sucker for a sentimental feel-good movie, and I’m a big Tom Hanks fan. I loved Forrest Gump — and I enjoyed It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood even more. My all-time favourite though has to be It’s a Wonderful Life.
10. You’re on death row (I’m not sure why because you seem nice). What’s your last meal?
Being an adopted Brummie, it would have to be curry. I normally love the vegetable side dishes, but I suppose I wouldn’t have to worry about the health aspect if I was about to be executed.
“I was amazed at how much evidence there is out there about how to invest and yet most investors do the exact opposite”
~ Robin Powell
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