Interview: Pete Matthew, producer of Meaningful Money
Rob Kingsbury talked to Pete Matthew, MD of Jacksons Wealth Management about how he started filming his Meaningful Money series of videos and his expansion into podcasting
As is often the way with great ideas, business or otherwise, it took three elements colliding at the same time to act as the catalyst for Pete Matthew to launch Meaningful Money.
“Between them they were the trigger and if they hadn’t all come together at that time things probably wouldn’t have worked out quite as they have,” he says.
The first of those elements was what Pete describes as “an epiphany; which was that if all I did in my life was help rich people to get richer I’d have wasted my life. I felt I wanted to give something back. It was just how to do it that I needed to work out.”
At same time, he says, he had quite a few people say to him in different settings – from his children at home to clients in advice meetings – that he was good at explaining things.
And the third influence was reading a book called Crush It! Why Now is the Time to Cash in on your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk, which was published in October 2009.
Pete explains how this book particularly affected him. “Gary is the son of a Russian immigrant to New York. His father began working in a liquor store, then he became a partner in the business, then he bought it outright. It’s now a 40,000 sq ft establishment called The Wine Library. Gary’s story is classic American Dream – his family went to the US in 1978 with nothing and now has a $60m a year business.
“The premise of the book Crush It, is that whatever your message, the tools are available via the internet to get your message out there cheaply, if not for free, and if it’s good content people will show up to watch, listen or read it. What Gary did was a create a daily wine tasting video – 30 minutes long, three wines every episode and he’s now just passed 1,000 episodes. He has over 970,000 followers on Twitter.”
This combination of influences, and in particular the inspiration of the Vaynerchuk book, which highlighted that if you have the passion and the knowledge to put quality content onto the internet people will be drawn to it, that gave Pete the impetus to “give it a go”.
He bought a Flip camera and a microphone and shot his first video.
“It wasn’t better thought out than that,” he says. “I wanted to create simple how to/what if videos. There were no pre-meditated thoughts about marketing myself or the business. It probably helped that I love playing around with computers but I just went out and did it and then looked at what I had created and whether it was worth doing another one.”
Having altruistic reasons for filming Meaningful Money probably helped keep the series going because it took two years for the effect of the videos to filter back into Jacksons as new business and anyone looking at it from a purely business perspective would probably have ditched the idea after a year.
“But I never expected to get clients from it,” Pete says. “And with financial advice being highly regulated you can’t really do that online.”
What the videos did do, almost immediately, was start to raise his profile in the industry.
“At the time we launched I was getting quite active on twitter – I was a relatively early adopter compared to most of the financial advice community; this is my fifth year. Other people who were beginning to be active on Twitter as well, helped spread the word about Meaningful Money.”
This in turn, enabled him to get a sponsor. “It opened some doors and it has enabled me to shake up the industry a bit, and that’s all great, but it wasn’t the original intention. I just wanted to make a set of videos that very simply and easily explain the principles of financial planning so people could help themselves.”
Inevitably, however, Meaningful Money’s success did start filtering into the business by bringing in useful levels of business “but it was been a very slow burn,” Pete says.
The power of the internet and in particular, using video, was brought home to him through the very first clients he acquired through the Meaningful Money series.
“The first clients I gained from it are a lovely couple living in East Sussex – so quite some way from Jacksons in Penzance. They sent me an email out of the blue saying: “Having watched several of your videos we feel like we know you and can trust you. Will you work with us?” I’d never met these people yet they felt they could trust me, having watched me on video. That was a real eye opener for me. That’s quite a leap of faith for someone to make. It’s a major vote of confidence.”
Practice makes perfect
Pete readily admits that some of his first Meaningful Money videos don’t compare in terms of presentation and quality to the later ones in the series. “When I shot those first videos, it felt quite artificial. I wouldn’t get out of the car if there was anyone else there. I got very good at finding very quiet places to film. In fact I still get self conscious if anyone else is around. After a while you get more used to it but there are always times when you get caught out, when people have suddenly appeared around the corner or I’ve been interrupted by people’s dogs jumping up at me.”
So how did he get in the mindset to speak to camera meaningfully for five minutes at a time? “I just posed a question from a client, such as ‘What’s a corporate bond’, and then answered it as if I was giving the client the answer in my office.
“Advisers talk for a living and I’m sure any adviser could do what I do and, because we are all different, they would do it in a way that was unique to them. Which is why I think there is plenty of space for other people to do similar things if they want to.”
Pete predicts podcasting is going to take off massively over the next few years.
While the Podcast is a medium that looked to have had its heyday back in the 2000s, since when it has been heavily overshadowed by video, especially with the domination of YouTube which is now the second largest search engine on the internet, now it seems Podcasts are making a come back.
Pete puts this resurgence down to two things: first the fact that it is generally accepted that podcasts are usually longer than videos, which means they can be used to take a more in-depth look at issues and deliver a lot more detailed information.
Secondly, and significantly, while videos are attention intensive, needing the viewer to watch what’s happening on screen, podcasts can be consumed passively. Once downloaded they can be listened to while carrying out other tasks: driving, in the gym, out running, working, even in the bath!
And with smartphones automatically downloading each new episode, the consumer has to do nothing except turn on their phone to listen to the new episode.
Pete has set himself a specific task with each podcast and that is to give the listener two things in relation to the selected topic: Everything they need to KNOW; Everything they need to DO. This provides the basic tools for people to visualise their finances and then also gives them something to think about in respect of what they need to do to move their finances forward.
Pete is encouraging listeners to leave voicemails requesting or asking a specific question on a topic. This he hopes will be the start of taking the podcasts more interactive.
While his motive in creating both the videos and the podcasts has been altruistic rather than as a means of attracting new business to Jacksons, Pete has acquired new clients as a result of both. “But ultimately,” he says, “if I get anything from this I would like to become known as the guy who can explain financial things in a way that is simple and easy to understand.”