New Zealand Law Society - Profile: Nick Crawford, Personal Wealth Adviser

Profile: Nick Crawford, Personal Wealth Adviser

Profile: Nick Crawford, Personal Wealth Adviser
Author and Personal Wealth Adviser Nick Crawford

Personal Wealth Adviser Nick Crawford has spent years working with lawyers in both the UK and New Zealand to manage investments. Last year he published his book Sudden Money summing up his experiences of supporting those who gain significant sums through a variety of means. The book charts the good, the bad and the ugly of sudden money.

Tell us about your background Nick?

Nick Crawford sitting in a office smiling
Author and Personal Wealth Adviser Nick Crawford

I grew up in Manchester in the North-West of England. After completing a degree in statistics in 1997 I went to work in London, landing a job on a trading floor. There I met my wife to be Amy and began a love affair with New Zealand that would eventually bring us to her native Waiheke Island. At the start of 2000 I switched to working for a financial advisory firm. It was the height of the dotcom boom but three months later the stock markets plummeted. Going to speak to clients who had lost thousands of pounds was a humbling experience and made me truly appreciate the responsibility I have as an adviser. 

Disillusioned with selling investment products I moved to a firm that specialised in advising clients who had received very large compensation awards. These were people who had suffered terrible injuries, including children who had cerebral palsy because of medical errors at birth.

Some meetings were sad and difficult, but often they were inspirational. Many of these people had no idea how to invest their money so it would last for the long-term. 

I then moved into working with clients who had won large sums of money on the UK National Lottery. These people had a different set of challenges, and although the win often brought a sense of euphoria that emotion quickly faded into a state of anxiety, guilt, fear and mistrust. 

In 2013 my wife Amy and our two young children moved to Waiheke Island and I am the co-owner of the personal wealth advisory firm The Private Office.

Have you worked with many lawyers over the years?
I’ve worked closely with quite a number of lawyers in both the UK and New Zealand. A trusted legal professional is a key member of any team advising someone who has come into sudden money. 

In the UK our paths would overlap more frequently due to the work in the personal injury or medical negligence industry which inevitably involved large sums of money. Many lawyers in that field understand that whilst their role diminishes once the payout is received, their client will need ongoing advice moving forward – almost always from a financial adviser. The best team that a person with a large sum of money can surround themselves with includes their lawyer, an independent financial adviser, a tax accountant and potentially an insurance adviser too.

Whilst we may work with people at different times in their lives, lawyers and financial advisers are dealing with people going through difficult situations.

Whether it’s a divorce or the settling of an estate following the death of a loved one emotions are running high for our clients. Understanding people and how to provide advice and guidance that they can absorb and act on is a challenge I know many lawyers face on a daily basis. 

What motivates you in the work you do?  
I’ve been incredibly inspired by those people who have been through difficult, traumatic experiences but come out with an amazingly positive attitude. Those people who can still look forward even though their immediate future may seem bleak. I find it hugely rewarding to help those people. In the UK it was dealing with people who suffered serious injury or disability through no fault of their own. One minute they’re living a “normal life” and the next everything has changed. They’ve then been through years of litigation to arrive at this sum of money that is meant to sustain them for the rest of their lives. Being able to use my experience to support people to make the best investments they can for their future is really what drives me. 

Last year you published Sudden Money – why did you write the book?I wanted to use my experience to write this book to show people who come into a large sum of money that they’re not alone in how they feel.

Money is an incredibly emotional thing – it can be one of the hardest topics to get people to sit down and think about logically. The book is designed to guide people through the personal and emotional aspects of receiving a large sum. 

Cover of the book Sudden Money showing two people popping champagne corks with a pile of money behind them whilst looking in a mirror where they appear sad.
Sudden Money by Nick Crawford

In the book I give practical advice about how to make good decisions with money, what to consider in the early days, guidance on formulating goals for the next stage and then how to develop a plan that gives someone the best chance of achieving those goals. 

There are anecdotes and case studies along the way – some happy, some sad and some slightly odd! And I’ve been really lucky in partnering with illustrator Alex Scott who brings my words to life in her drawings.

In the book you break down five money personalities – which are the most common that you have seen in the legal profession? 
Believe it or not a lot of lawyers are an avoider. They don’t like thinking about money. Like the British, most kiwis are reserved about talking about money – in that regard we’re very different to Americans! Lawyers are also very busy people so having the time to stop and think about money – really think about how best to invest for the decades to come is really challenging.

A financial adviser can take on that pressure for you. Whilst I know I sound like I’m touting for work, the worst thing anyone can do is avoid thinking and investing in their future. That’s how you end up not prepared for retirement even after years of earning a decent salary.

On the other hand, I have to confess to having seen some Power Players in the legal profession – these are people who like to flash the cash. They have the money and they’re willing to let people know that. They spend money to demonstrate their success. 

There’s no judgement on which personality is the best, but understanding which one you are might be a good first step towards improving your relationship with money.

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