CFO Series: Joe Adams (Space Ape Games and King) on Personal Financial Management
As a self confessed games nerd, he's worked on both the IPO* of King, and led the acquisition of Space Ape Games; two of the biggest gaming companies. Joe Adams is a fantastically talented chief financial officer who talks to us about his career, personal finances and where he spends his money.
*(initial public offering: I discussed this term in How to Be an Entrepreneur)
Let's start with your career; how did you end up where are you?
In truth, where I am now is a mixture of conscious decision and random happenstance. I knew I wanted to be an accountant and Baker Tilly would have me when I left university. I moved after a year there and went to a music and media specialist accounting firm for 2 and a half years, auditing their clients. I've always loved music and wanted to work in music. After the auditing company, I went to work for the record label Warner Music. It was great experience but it was also a massive company, and I soon figured out I didn't want to work for a massive company. One of the people I worked for at Warner left and moved to King. She asked me to come and join them there, and I did. I was there for 3 years, and during that time we did the IPO (Wee Scot: an IPO is an initial public offering, which involves listing a company on the stock market); after that I was looking around for somewhere where I could leverage that experience. I came across Space Ape Games; due to my love of games and experience within the sector, this role fitted in perfectly with what I was looking for in a new job.
Financial management; tell me about your personal finances and how you manage them.
From a financial management point of view, I designed myself a spreadsheet which I have been using for the last 10 years. I down transactions into, and use balance trackers to categorise both the expense and income sections. It provides me with really detailed insight into my spending categories. I do this on a monthly basis. For a live feed of my spending I used to use the Yolt app; it was a personal finance app designed by ING which provided real time feeds of my spending.
My biggest spending category last year was on holidays; I went to Australia this year for over two weeks, which I booked last year. My next biggest spending category is fitness; I do a lot of yoga, and work out most days.
With regards to savings, I have an ISA cash savings account, but I don't put much in there; I own a house and pay down my mortgage as much as I can each month. In addition to the above, I have two pensions; one with my current employer, and one from my previous employer. I pay for a pension advisor through St James Place Wealth management; I got 20% return last year.
I don't have any personal goals; maybe I should!
What is fintech to you? How do you use it in your every day life?
Everyone talks about using Revolut and Monzo for personal financial management, and having a good foreign currency card. I signed up to the Tandem credit card instead; it's a cash back, no FX fee credit card rather than a prepaid card. Compared to a prepaid card, a credit card means you don't have to load it with your own money. If your wallet gets stolen, it's not your money on that card. I found and chose the Tandem card through an Instagram advert. I find so far that a lot of Fintech companies don't really add to or replace traditional financial institutions. Sometimes these institutions are just fine. Until many of these new players become more established, I don’t want them holding my cash.
What have you learned from your job that helps your financial management?
My job has made me more savvy to the products that are available in the market. Who to go to for advice, who not to go to, when it’s worth paying for advice and who to go to get it to free, who to believe and who not to believe. The main thing I would say is do research on everything; do not take the first thing that comes through the door. The same goes for technology companies and adopting the new technology. You do not need to jump on every single tech solution, particularly if it involves signing up with your email address; you get spammed on everything!
Other than finance tech, what other tech do you adopt in your life?
Games...as it's my job I have to say that...however, I liked games before I joined Space Ape Games. I have a Nintendo Switch – they are good at the hardware element. I also have a Fitbit; I like the fact that it tracks my heart rate.
I used to have the Apple Watch but I removed it. It doesn't really add much and I don’t need any more notifications in my life. On my phone, I have Whatsapp, messenger and that’s it. I don’t have email or Slack. Like most people, I could not live without my phone being on me, however, I don't like it coming to me with notifications; I like going to it. I don't have my mobile phone in the bedroom, and I don't believe in checking my phone before I've gone through my morning routine.
What's your morning routine?
I drink water, brush my teeth, drink a cup of coffee, meditate, journal and then I can do whatever I want. Sometimes I journal about introspective things, and sometimes it's external about what I'm seeing and what I have to do that day.
Back to technology...
I love Spotify; it has completely changed music. Imagine how many CDs you would need to carry around with you. I listen to different recordings to things. I also have Netflix and Sky NowTV although I don't watch that much TV; I don't have a box so I can't watch TV live.
We should always be learning; tell me about how you keep learning?
I use Blinkist; it has book digests so you can you can read or listen to books in 15 minutes. I read a lot of books on philosophy; that makes me sound like a creep but I like anything that gives insight into the human condition, another favourite for example would be behavioural economics. I read a little bit of fiction but I prefer to read about how the mind works and how people are thinking. I read the Economist every week but I fully acknowledge that it is a fiscally conservative, socially liberal newspaper so it doesn’t really challenge me. I don’t read newspapers; every morning I’m woken up by Radio 3 but I make sure I'm out the door before the news comes on. News is always bad.
Any final comments for Wee Scot Finance readers?
Firstly, don’t dream it, be it. It's a quote from The Rocky Horror Picture show. I also finished my highest marked essay at university with that line(!) Secondly, everyone feels like they should save more than they do; I don’t know where that ends. Is anyone satisfied? If they are, can they call me and tell me how they do. My parents saved and saved and now they have a lot of money but they still don't want to spend it all. Above anything else I don't want to spend it for them when they die. I wish I had saved a bit more earlier on but at the same time I've lived a happy and fulfilled life so far.
All beautiful photos are by unsplash.com