Posted by Devenia Besant on 12 Mar 2019

Hey Michael, Congratulations on making The Times Vouched for 2019 Guide for Top Rated Financial Advisors, you must be chuffed?

Very happy, it’s nice to recieve some validation from a national publication.

How did you qualify to be in the guide?

We agreed to offer clients the ability to rate us, based on a pre-set series of questions posed by Vouched For. It was a big decision, as we have no control and clients are free to rate us as they see fit. Personally, I have always been confident in our proposition, but putting out there was still a little bit nerve jangling.

A lot of people either find talking about finance boring (sorry!!!) or are fearful, how do you get them engaged with what you do?

I have learned from experience that many people put off making financial decisions due to fear of getting it wrong, or worrying about the complexities of products, money and how it affects them. In simple terms, we help clients focus on their desired outcome, by focussing on that we can dispose of product speak. Once clients see themselves in the process and how each decision can have a measure of benefit, it is easier to feel part of the process rather than an observer.

I know you focus on helping families save for the future, for both parents and their children, whats the best way to start?

Savings discipline is the hardest & best way to start. Put away something regularly, in something that can’t be accessed immediately. Then increase the amount each year, at least by inflation.

In simple terms, this creates the notion that saving should be treated as a normal outgoing. As the cost of life increases, so should savings once it becomes normal and you see it grow, I find clients increase their savings goals instead of building debt.

You recently wrote a blog for the site about talking about money from an early age with your children, why is this important?

I believe the debt cycle is taught rather than savings, get a student loan / credit card etc, buy now, worry later. If parents save for their children, show them the benefit of the sacrifice by enabling zero Uni fees, first car, deposit for 1st home, they instil the value of family centric financial stability.  So many people are one payslip away from homelessness or hardship. Having a savings buffer and the security that it affords was an acute part of financial planning until the onset of easy access (high interest) loans.

Your children are more likely to reach middle age and be financially responsible for their children and for their parents, who will live longer and be more financially reliant on decisions they find it hard to make Many people I help are now in that position, juggling care fees for parents and helping adult children financially. I have 25 years financial experience and it tests me, so getting education out there now has never been more important.

Is your teenage daughter following your advice?

Well, my initial response, “what teenager ever listens to their parents”, probably doesn’t cut it. She has had a pre-pay debit card for about 3-years now and I have used this as the first step to understanding saving towards a goal, I have set tasks to instil work vs reward and she does now save (short term). I have set up longer-term investments for her, which I use to involve long-term goals and engage her by investing in the things that mean something to her (ethical projects / social media platform shares) Let’s not pretend she’s that engaged, but she did recently tell me she’s started saving for her first holiday without a parent for her 18th. At which point, my parental pride was usurped by parental terror

What is the funniest excuse you’ve heard from someone about not being able to save and what advice did you give them?

I once had a meeting with a lottery winner, who 3 months after winning £5 million, was so worried about it, that he had told no one, including his wife. so, I did what we always do with the perception that something is too large to fathom. We broke the mountain of worry into small parts & then into easy to understand plans.

My Mum always kept everything in tins (gas, electric, food etc) and, in essence, she taught me the basis of financial planning. That simple process, kept us warm, fed and financially stable.

Having known you for a while you are a man of many thought provoking quotes, can you share one with us today?

It’s not about the money you make, it’s about how much you keep, how it works for you and how many generations you keep it for.

Lastly for those that wanted to get in touch for your advice how can they reach you?

Email is best

Thank you so much Michael! 

You can also find Michael and the rest of the Aspen Financial Services Team on Facebook and Twitter or visit the website –


Devenia Besant
Devenia (Dee) Besant is the founder of Epsom and Ewell Families. Runs a busy household as a mummy of 3 and a wife and some would say crazily committed to helping small businesses and the local community.

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