Your Essential Checklist

Hi, and welcome to the final episode of the Essential Finance video content series, in partnership with bdhSterling. Focused on providing financial tips for the Australian business and expatriate community in the UK.

I’m Jessica Sullivan, the member engagement and project manager at the Australia – UK Chamber of Commerce. The final episode in our six-part video series brings together all that we have covered from episodes one through five and also sees me welcome Simon Harvey back for a chat. Additionally, we’ll also be joined by my colleague, Catherine Woo, Australia – UK Chamber of Commerce CEO, who will be sharing her ex-pat reflections and round off this series, alongside Simon.

Our valued sponsor for this series is bdhSterling and they are a key partner for our chamber member network in the market, given their considerable expertise in financial planning and wealth management.

Welcome to you both Catherine and Simon. Simon, we’ll start with you first. It’s wonderful to welcome you back for the final episode in this series. When we launched it, you really did set the bar high for your colleagues. It’s been my pleasure and incredibly enlightening personally working with the bdhSterling team on this particular series.

Throughout we’ve covered planning, savings, pensions, tax and property. Can you perhaps share with us what needs to be on an essential finance checklist? And possibly impart your warmest wisdom – what top tip for an Australian living in working in the UK, who wants to set up their finances for later in life.

Sure thing. The top of the checklist for us is making sure that we’ve got clear financial goals and objectives. That tells us what we’re working towards what we’re aiming for and what our goals are. Then we’ll make sure that we’ve got all of the good, essential foundations for a good financial plan.

So, that will mean, developing a budget, making sure that you have an emergency fund, evaluating your insurance needs. Then after that, once you’ve got those foundations in place, it’s really to start to accumulate and build your wealth.

My top tip would be for Australians that are in the UK, to make use of the tax brackets that are available such as pension funds for ISA’s etc, and how those will tie in with their longer-term plan, if that is to transition back to Australia.

So, because we’re across both the UK and Australian regimes we can make sure that any plan that is put in place in the UK, can then see them through to their eventual retirement. And of course, when people arrive in the UK they won’t always known how long they’re going to stay. They might not do the necessary prep work initially because they’re unclear on their plans. But it’s really, really important that you understand the options that are available to you but also making sure that you’re compliant with the tax authorities in both the UK and Australia.

Magnificent, thanks, Simon. We’ve certainly had it reinforced throughout the series from your colleagues, Stephen and Paul around planning and how crucial that is to get that right in the first instance and those first early days. To really think things through and be really considered and how you map out your financial future.

Catherine, it’s so wonderful to have you as part of the discussion with us today. You’ve been in the UK for over 10 years. Could you provide us with your backstory from ex-pat to CEO? And did you think about your Essential Finance checklist along the way?

Well, I wish that I could say that at the beginning of that journey I thought about my financial checklist. But I was like a lot of Australians, I came over to the UK, in my 20s on a tier five youth mobility visa. At the time I really didn’t realize I was going to stay for 10 years I thought perhaps I’ll stay for a year, maybe two years. My priorities have really changed over the last decade as you can imagine.

When I first came over. Yes, I was saving. I’ve always been someone who does put away a little bit of their pay packet every month. But most of my salary was going on things like trips to Europe and weekends away and discovering London. And over the last 10 years, my priorities have changed in line with my lifestyle.

Over that time, I’ve got married. I’ve bought a home with my husband, we’ve had a child. As you can imagine, the way I think about wealth creation and the way I think about financial planning has really evolved.

Further to Simon’s point I probably moved from having more of a savings mentality to more of a wealth creation mentality. That’s both in terms of thinking about how I make my money work for me or for us, and also how I protect my downside, now that my husband and I have built some assets.

So, did I have a financial checklist when I came over? No, do I wish I had had one? Yes absolutely.

Yeah, things we wish we knew if only we had a crystal ball. Catherine, what advice would you give to yourself 10 years back when you first moved out here?

That’s such a good question. I think there are a few pieces of advice I’d give myself. First of all, I think when you move from Australia to the UK, it’s really important to get to grips with some of the changes between the two countries.

One of the areas that I particularly point to is the difference between superannuation and pensions. So, when I came over to the UK, before that I’d had a job in Australia, where I had fairly high personal and employer contributions to superannuation. The pension system was not as developed in the UK at the time and defined contributions hadn’t yet been introduced.

So, I think making sure that I would have preferred to have been really on top of that perhaps with the assistance of a financial planner like bdhSterling to understand how I could have made that transition a little bit more effectively and made the pension system in the UK work.

More broadly, I think, yes, I didn’t know when I first moved to the UK, how my future was going to look and therefore exactly what my financial plan should be. But I would really encourage anyone listening to this series, and anyone more broadly, to go and speak with a financial planner. Whatever country they’re in.

Perhaps look at some different scenarios around how you think your future might look. No one has an exactly set future, but I think working through one or two scenarios around how it could look, and how you can actually structure a really effective financial plan with your financial advisor is a really sound strategy to undertake.

Covid-19 has meant that many of us have had to react to unexpected changes to our finances. How can we go about ensuring shocks, such as these don’t have such a negative effect in the future?

I think for those people at the start of their journey, like Catherine just discussed, the most important thing is to make sure that they’ve got an emergency fund. We normally as a rule of thumb, is six months worth of expenditure, in cash, readily available. If something happened that means you lose your income.

For those who have more significant wealth. I think if they’ve been working with a financial planner, that financial planner should prepare them for a situation, such as this. Not necessarily Covid, but a situation which compacted the global stock market.

If we’ve done our job correctly at the beginning, we’d have explained to our clients that there will be peaks and troughs with investment performance. What’s really important is that when there is an event that impacts markets to this degree, that you don’t panic. You understand that it’s part of the investment process and that you don’t crystallise any losses.

Your investments will inevitably recover in value, and as long as you haven’t crystallised those losses, you’ll be fine. That’s what you should get out of working with a financial planner, is to understand that it’s just part of the process.

Definitely, those peaks and troughs we suddenly can’t predict but we can obviously put things in place to protect ourselves if we’re quite realistic about things.

Catherine, turning not to how the Chamber has seen the effects of Covid-19 play out firsthand. Do you have any advice from your perspective as CEO, on how to plan against crisis?

Yeah, It’s been a very educational year. Anyone who has run a business, or is within a business over the last year on how to weather the crisis and how to build resilience. So, I guess there are three lessons for me, now that we’re a year on from the onset of Covid in the UK.

The first one is really I think around accepting a crisis and adapting to it in an inventive and agile way. So, I think when Covid first happened, there was a temptation for many people and organisations to think. ‘You know what, maybe this isn’t going to be that bad. Maybe we can just hunker down and ride this out’.

As we’ve seen this has been a really protracted crisis so one of the things I’m proud of at the Chamber was we worked to very quickly adapt to this new environment. I think you need to accept, when an environment has changed, and work like hell to make sure that you are adapting. Whether it be, like we did, moving into more digital engagement with our members, more digital content to reach them. I think this series with bdhSterling is a great example of one of the ways in which we pivoted.

The second lesson which I think is very applicable to financial planning is, making sure you do the work before a crisis around your financial resilience. You never know when a crisis is going to happen. You can perhaps make educated guesses but you’re never going to know the exact timing and shape of a crisis. So, you need to do work between those shocks to make sure that you’ve got the safety net to weather those shocks when they come.

I think making sure that you’re prudent with your balance sheet, that you are putting away some savings in your company, to help you get through those bad times is a great idea.

Then the third inter-related lesson is making sure that you’re doing the pre work around investing in your relationships and your partnerships between shocks. Because actually, you can’t build those partnerships and relationships, anywhere near as easily during a crisis, as you can before.

I have to say that, we at the Chamber, we operate as a community, we operate as an ecosystem. It’s really been through the support of our members and our partners and our friends that we’ve been able to come through the last year.

Magnificent thanks so much Catherine, you bring a very unique lens to this discussion, given your experience and the work that you’ve done across our member base this past year.

Simon, your colleague Stephen discussed the need to plan in chunks of time. Could you expand on this and provide an outline of what people should be thinking about and when?

I think Stephen was talking about striking a balance between planning for your shorter, medium and longer-term goals. For example, some clients have significant wealth but are worried about having enough in retirement. They’re making sacrifices today, that they don’t necessarily need to make.

Other people, on the flip side of that, might be that people have high disposable income, that tends to live for today, and could be doing more for tomorrow. So, I think a financial planner will just help you with an objective view on things, of your situation and make sure that you’re getting that balance right so that you are living to a good standard today. But you’re also putting away money for your retirement and for your future.

Fabulous, thank you both again. As I said at the top of this episode it’s been a real pleasure to be able to talk with you and your colleagues, in particular, Simon.

In summary, the overarching message I’ve taken away from this is, whatever life stage you’re at it’s certainly in your interest to connect with bdhSterling for a confidential chat about setting yourself up for financial success.

You’re able to visit the bdhSterling website at for full details. Thank you for joining me again Simon and thank you too Catherine for coming into the conversation today.

We’re very proud to work with our wonderful sponsors at bdhSterling and are incredibly thankful for their ongoing support as members of the Australia – UK Chamber of Commerce.


Your investments will play recovering value, and as long as you haven't crystallized those losses, you'll be fine. That's what you should get out of working with a financial planner, is to understand that that is just part of the process.