CFO Series: Daniel Jarret (The Eleven) on Personal Financial Management

Following on from Revolut's CFO, Peter O'Higgins, and Level 39's CFO, Adam Luk, I have the brilliant Daniel Jarret, Managing Director of “The Eleven”. The Eleven is a start up studio which helps individuals take great ideas and build them into brilliant businesses.

Alongside being Managing Director, Daniel holds the financial director position for two of The Eleven’s core businesses, Charlie HR and Born Social. Charlie HR is a HR software platform focused on alleviating the administrative burdens for small companies, while Born Social is a social media agency helping companies with their branding requirements.

 

Daniel, talk us through your career to date

I was into economics at school, but I always got frustrated by the fact that it's quite a narrow discipline. Based on this, I decided to study something broader at university, choosing PPE (philosophy, politics and economics) at Durham University. As a PPE student you are expected to do either banking, law, accountancy or consulting; I did an internship at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Team. Upon graduating I moved into the Goldman Sachs internal audit team, where I did my accounting qualifications (ACA). I guess I fell into accounting.

I loved Goldman Sachs. I got to work with smart and driven people across many functions, from equities to fixed income to pricing, assessing the risks, controls and strategies, financially and operationally in each function. As my work did not involve being an accountant, studying the ACA was quite challenging; I was not doing work that was practical to the qualification.  

After I qualified I moved to Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong where I worked on a project looking at execution and risk management for the equity derivatives trading desk; it was technical and really hard work but I learnt a lot and really enjoyed it. Coming back to London I knew I wanted to move into the investing side of Goldman, but they did not have a position available. Around the same time I started to explore other companies. I was beginning to get frustrated by the structure and processes and I was looking for a role where there was more independence and say in what I was doing day to day. I had also seen too many people who I respected not enjoying their jobs, but being too tied to it to have options available to them.

I started to look at a few different startups. I knew some people who had launched a startup studio (The Eleven) so I reached out to them. I was excepted accepted and I spent 6 to 9 months building out a finance function for The Eleven; I covered everything from accounting for acquisitions, sales and debt, to nitty gritty accounting issues. I always emphasie to anyone starting a company, it’s messy ten times over than you think it will be.

I realized from the accounting qualifications, you can learn a lot in theory, but until you’re doing it yourself, practically, you don’t realise how to fully do it. I also realized that I enjoy creating process in the chaos.

With regards to next steps in my career, I perceive myself being with The Eleven for considerably longer. I have taken a broader role, from being the finance assistant running day to day roles to looking at the longer term, broader metrics of the company. In the technology space you have incubator and accelerator models which are short term timeframes of intense information and help, before companies go out to do it themselves.

At The Eleven we’re trying to build a framework for launching new businesses and nurturing them through all stages of life.

We provide a shared pool of resources; most start-ups don’t have the budget for a head of legal, operations or finance. I want to build a team of real experts that can go in and help these companies. In 6 years at The Eleven we’ve built 8 companies. We’re launching a new business called Cyber Smart which is an information security business for small enterprises. We’re also launching a new venture in September in the technology recruitment space. I get to be the financial director across all these companies.
 

What does Fintech mean to you?

I guess the questions is, what is fintech? Without fail I expect something to have a good UX (user experience) if they have an app. This applies to any financial institution.

I use both Monzo and Revolut. I use Revolut premium to purchase Crypto-currency and travel insurance that I can turn on and off at any time. I obviously use it for foreign currency purposes, and when I was away with friends, they all put money into it, and we used it as a kitty for holiday spending money.

I’ve also used Coinbase for investing in Bitcoin; I initially invested in Bitcoin to understand it further.

I really did not understand, and couldn’t find anyone to explain, interest rate volatility in crypto currency, so I bought a small amount to try and understand it. I still don’t think I fully understand it, and the impact on the environment is pretty bad.

I use Monzo for foreign currency, but my girlfriend and I use it as a joint account. We don’t live anywhere near a bank branch and we don’t have time to sign the forms. She has got the card and I have the app on my phone. We pay our rent, bills food etc and we have joint pots where we can put the holiday fund, or eating out fund.

I also use Nutmeg for my ISA; even if you don’t go on to use Nutmeg, I would recommend anyone to fill out the questionnaire on Nutmeg to understand what their risk profile is.

I have received fairly high returns on my ISA in the last 5 years.

I used to do a lot more active investing when I was a Goldman Sachs; I used to love reading the research papers Goldman Sachs produced, and investing allowed me to have skin in the game. At that time I used Hargreaves Landsdown who have ETFs you can invest in. With regards to pensions, at Goldman I had a pension with Legal and General, which I still have. I like the fund my pension is in. As part of auto-enrolment, I also have a workplace pension with People’s Pension. At some point I want to launch a SIPP.

 

What are your financial, and career goals?

The main goal is to save for a house. It’s a 5 to 10 year goal, unless some of my girlfriend and my investments come in sooner, or the horse racing pays off, in which case it’s much shorter.

With regards to a career goal, I would love to be in a position to support, launch or found something with a genuine social mission behind it, and has a positive impact on people.

At the moment I don’t feel like I have the energy and time to do that.

From a materialistic point of view, I would like to invest in illiquid asset classes that I get joy out of. My girlfriend works in art; we’ve purchased a Banksy together. She buys and sells modern art. I would like to own more art. Similarly, I would love to own classic cars. That goal is miles away, but it’s definitely a dream.
 

What are your biggest outgoings?

Aside from rent, holidays. I’ve had some amazing holidays in the last couple of years. I’m not good at going and sitting on a beach somewhere. I don’t go on many holidays, but when I do, I go all out.

Last year I went skiing in Japan and I’ve been rhino tracking in Zimbabwe as well.

This year we had a couple of weeks in Italy; financially it was a little tamer.

 

What other types of technology do you like?

I bought a new Garmin running watch; I’ve done a lot of half marathons and a couple of full marathons. I’m looking to move into triathlons but I need to learn to swim first. My first race is in November in Dorney Lake.

As a house warming gift we were given a Google Home. It’s in the kitchen and can talk at me; it tells me what’s in my diary for that day, links to Spotify, wishes me Happy Birthday. It’s brilliant.

I would like to deck out my house with technology that talks to each other.

In terms of education, what do you listen to, read or watch?

I listen to a lot of podcasts; I love a16z. I also listen to the Goldman Sachs podcasts which cover the macro and micro economic trends. They’re quite US focused but they are very good. I have a lot of respect for Y Combinator, and I listen to their podcast a lot as well. Finally, I also enjoy Desert Island Disks and The Secret Life of Leaders.

In terms of the best books I’ve read, these include Let My People Go Surfing, by Patagonia’s CEO and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Nike’s CEO.

On blogs, when I was in investment banking I used to read the Epicurean Dealmaker and All About Alpha. I now really like Wait but Why and I read Tech Crunch daily.

Any tips you would give to readers?

Read, research, and don’t be afraid to form your own opinions on things. Value people who have an opinion on things and people who are willing to read and read and read. Some may say that constant reading is slightly indulgent, and to a certain extent it is, however, the people who challenge me the most at work are those that read a lot.

Another point I would add is to be open minded from a young age. Don’t feel like you have to do something because it’s expected of you. Do what you want to do.

In the workplace, always hire people that are smarter than you; the best hire I made will go on to do a lot more than I will.

From a personal finance perspective, I have three points on this:

  1. try to invest in things you care about. I’ve invested in a couple of companies on Crowdcube such as Five Points Brewery. Ethical investing is also big for me.

  2. alongside this, if you’re going to invest, have an opinion. I try and steer clear of mutual funds; when I realised they weren’t going to outperform the FTSE I took most of my money out of them. Nutmeg has reasonable fees which is why I put some of my money there.

  3. depending on your time horizon, look at trackers and ETFs for your investments.

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