Expensive advice and choosing where to live

Nov 04, 2023 6:06 am


This is an email I send to keep in touch with people and share a bit about what I'm doing and thinking about.

This month, I'm:

  • Dissecting the high cost of financial advice
  • Travelling
  • Reading about concrete

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🔻 When financial advice is clearly too expensive

The other week, shares in the UK’s biggest wealth manager (holding £150 billion of client funds) fell by more than 20% in a single day. Why?

Suspected fraud? Accounting scandal? No… a report that the UK regulator might force it to scrap the exit fees it charges its customers.

People have complained about the fees of St James’ Place (SJP) for years, and this latest drop prompted me to take a closer look.

I’m far from an expert. But I quickly found 2 reasons I wouldn’t give them my money… 

Read the full article


At the top of the newly opened Horizon 22 – London's highest viewing platform. Incredible views, and it's free!

✈️ Finding a city that suits

If you can live anywhere, where should you spend your time? It depends on what you’re optimising for.

Right now, my family and I have based ourselves in Malaga in Spain, for a few weeks. Malaga, for me at least, is not a good place to knuckle down to a hardcore work sprint or stick to a strict gym/food regime.

The city just doesn’t lend itself to get you psyched up for it. Every time you step outside (23 degrees and blue skies in bloody November), it’s like… eh. Life’s good – let’s have a caña and think about doing it instead.

It does lend itself to other things, though: balance, relaxation, big ideas (easier to feel optimistic in the sun than it is in the drizzle).

London is the opposite. It’s easy to get into a routine. Everything is convenient and efficient. You feel (as my friend Jean put it) like you’re at the centre of the world, and feel the desire to push yourself to do more, earn more, achieve more. (New York is the same, x15.)

Those are just two examples. I’ve lived (at least short-term) in a bunch of different cities, and they all offered me something different.

So if you’re lucky enough to be able to have no fixed abode, you can make strategic use of location to bend your environment to whatever matters most to you right now.

BTW, a few random travel tips:

  • I'm done with Airbnb. There are so few "organic" listings of people's own homes these days – and all the serviced apartments can be found on sites like Booking.com with lower fees and far better cancellation terms.
  • If you use the Booking.com app rather than their website, it will sometimes offer you 10% off for no apparent reason.
  • We're still loving our model of hiring a nanny for a few hours each day so there's always a mix of family time and work/personal time.


Recording the Making Money podcast with Damien and T you can watch it here.

🚜 We're living in a material world

I felt huge resistance to reading Material World by Ed Conway.

I mean, a book about sand, concrete and copper… it didn’t exactly call out to me. But wow it was amazing.

Main takeaways:

1: I didn’t even know the absolute basics and it’s embarrassing.

I mean… we’re surrounded by concrete, but what actually IS it? I now feel more qualified to exist in the world.

TIP: I like chatting with ChatGPT about science-y topics as I’m reading about them. It’s impossible for an author to know how much knowledge to assume from the reader, and asking AI helped me fill in the gaps.

2: The scale at which we’re blasting holes in the planet is beyond anything I ever imagined.

But weirdly, I came away feeling positive: the ingenuity humanity has used to harness these resources in the past is ASTONISHING, and it makes me feel better that we’ll solve today’s challenges.

(Do you like how I said “we” like I’m going to have anything to do with it?)

3: Technology is even more complex and globally interconnected than you imagine

Experts in one part of the process (e.g. etching circuit boards onto silicon chips) have little idea how the circuit board was made out of sand in the first place. Leonard Read nailed it with “I, Pencil” in 1958.

🔗 Odds and ends

💯 If you run a business, this list of 100 things you could be doing is a handy checklist of ideas for growth and improvement. It also serves as a reminder of just how much control you have over your outcomes, whatever the state of the economy or what competitors are up to.

🎶 The economist Tyler Cowan appears to know everything about everything – including music, as it turns out. He DJ'd for legendary producer Rick Rubin on this podcast, and pulled out a ludicrously eclectic mix. Some of it made me want to rip my ears off, but there were also some gems that opened me up to entire genres I'd never considered.

🦾 If you've started zoning out every time someone mentions ChatGPT, that's a totally rational response in the face of far too much hype. But now's the time to start paying attention again: it can now take images as input, and it's insane. This video showcases some of the mind-blowing possibilities.

That’s it for now! Feel free to write back and let me know what you've been up to.



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