The CFO Series: Joe Gallard (Carwow) on Personal Financial Management

Welcome to the first in the CFO (chief financial officer) series; this series sets to uncover the personal finance habits of some of the brightest finance minds. 

Kicking us off is one of my finance favourites in the tech scene, Joe Gallard. Joe is the finance director at London tech poster child Carwow, and now CEO and founder of Reducr; a software enabling cost reduction site that helps companies understand where they are overpaying for services. Like myself, Joe was in practice in audit, before becoming the financial controller at Gousto, and then transitioning across to Carwow as their head of finance. He's gone through multiple funding rounds, rapid expansion and international success while being at the finance helm of one of the fastest growing London tech companies, Carwow. 

Without further a do; 

Joe, you have led very successful finance departments and teams. How do your experiences of company finance relate to your personal financial management?

In business the primary decisions are usually non-financial; we ask what problems need solved, what our vision or mission is, and what do our goals look like. Finance acts as a facilitator and guide for the rest of the business, ensuring a direct and profitable (short or long term) path is taken.  

Life is similar.  Finance should be a facilitator for what you want to do,  not a goal in itself.  When planning your finances, phrase your thoughts so you consider how to manage your finances to allow you to live the best version of your life. 

And negotiate on everything.  

What is fintech to you? Do you use any technology for personal financial management?

I’ve never embraced the personal Fintech revolution; I don’t see it solving a real problem. You can already have your money looked after; you can earn interest on it, withdraw it, transfer it and spend it around the world with no, or limited, fees.  You can already access and buy stocks, shares and bonds from all around the world at minimal fees, and from multiple providers.  

Fintech innovations are expanding investment options to individuals (Crowdcube, Property Partner, Nutmeg ) or providing services banks do, but with a nicer app (Monzo).  None have managed to convince me to use them yet though.

The most advanced I get in terms of personal finance is a Google Sheet my wife and I fill in every month. We update it with the balances on our accounts; we know how much we should spend, and we check the amount we've spent against this to understand how our finances are tracking.

What technology do you embrace?

It sounds odd but my favourite tech is the ability of my phone to know my location.

We take it for granted but it’s amazing what the incorporation of location into smartphones means for our daily life; finding restaurants, bars, lost friends, knowing which direction to walk down a street, what the best route for driving is, uber, knowing how fast you are running, where you went cycling are examples of how geolocation improves our lives. 

Tell me about your favourite financial management publications?

There are so many...

My must read is FT Alphaville; it starts from a place of skepticism rather than adulation when covering the tech sphere. They do proper investigative journalism (e.g. uncovering the issues at UK tech “unicorn” VE Interactive well before it crashed into administration); they always offer an interesting perspective.  

I really enjoyed “How Much is Enough?: Money and the Good Life”; this book analyses different views on living the good life, and the role finance takes. 

Any pieces of advice for Wee Scot Finance readers?

Sure, a few final pieces of advice…….

  • anything that sounds too good to be true, is (do not invest in ICOs (initial coin offerings)); 
  • if you do not fully understand something, don’t invest in (do not invest in ICOs);
  • anything that your taxi driver advises you to invest in, don’t (do not invest in ICOs); 
  • buy boring stocks and shares (and try not to switch your investments often); 
  • utilise your ISA allowance, and
  • increase your pension contribution (and increase it with every pay rise).

Thank you Joe! 

Beautiful pictures on the blog supplied by the amazing unsplash.com