Interview with: Discovia Speaker Andrew Craig

Time to read: 8 minutes

Today we introduce you to Andrew Craig a best-selling finance author, Founder of personal finance website Plain English Finance, and Investment Manager of the VT PEF Global Multi-Asset Fund. Andrew’s stated mission with Plain English Finance is “To improve the financial affairs of as many people as possible…”

His first book, “How to Own the World” has been No. 1 rated on Amazon in categories such as Pensions, Investments, and Personal Finance for a good proportion of the last few years.  Since founding Plain English Finance in 2011, Andrew has appeared in numerous national and specialist financial publications, has been interviewed on TV, RADIO, Business Market analysts like Bloomberg, and has even featured in a film.

Having been a partner at an investment bank specialising in biotechnology and life sciences until recently, Andrew’s next book “Our Future is Biotech” seeks to explain in accessible language how the biotech industry is set to change our world in the relatively near future and for years to come.

We are thrilled to announce his talk and workshop at Discovia, iDiscover Summit 2022.

Describe what you do in your own words? What is unique about the way you do it that makes you stand out?

Our company’s mission is “to improve the financial affairs of as many people as possible.” We do this via our website and also via two books I have published in the last decade. We see effective financial literacy as one of the very most powerful vectors for individual and societal improvement. We live in a capitalist era where vanishingly few people really understand capitalism. People don’t learn about or make use of modern financial markets which are one of the key “killer apps” of modernity. I think our uniqueness perhaps derives from our belief that this is a problem that can be solved. If most people understood and made far better use of financial markets the world would be a far better place for all sorts of reasons. We believe that this is possible.

What inspired you to go and do it? How did it all start?

Over many years, time after time I met intelligent, successful people who told me that they would never invest in anything other than property or cash and that they were hugely distrustful of the finance industry generally. About ten years ago I started writing about why that was a terrible shame for them, for innovative companies and for government and society more generally. What I wrote morphed into my first book “How to Own the World” which became a best seller and is still making the case in its third edition, nearly ten years later.

Describe a moment of huge inspiring breakthrough in your personal-professional evolution.

There have been many but probably the most exciting and significant of all was when one of the world’s largest publishers got in touch with me out of the blue wanting to discuss a book deal for my then self-published book. That was certainly a moment that kicked things up a notch…

What is your current Mount Everest? What are you in the process of creating in the world? Your ultimate vision and dream?

That one is easy: We are currently looking to float a company on the London stockmarket which will look to invest in British, European, and Australian life sciences companies. Outside of the US, the funding environment for many innovative companies is extremely challenged. There are companies which could be changing the world by doing things as important as curing cancer, stripping significant costs out of healthcare systems, and revolutionising agricultural production and clean energy generation, for example, but which struggle to get enough attention and capital for reasons which are often well outside of their control. We want to be a part of helping to solve that problem.

What do iDiscover and its community mean to you?

Discovia will be my first interaction with iDiscover and what I hope I will mainly offer to its community is plenty of evidence for the case for optimism. I believe that one of the main challenges we face at present is unfounded pessimism which comes as a result of an extraordinarily negative bias in our media and contemporary discourse overall. My hope is that my contribution might call that stance into question, to a certain extent at least.

Plus I always love the chance to meet and exchange ideas with lots of other people, and it’s great to be doing that in a beautiful venue in Burgundy!

What is your daily/weekly/monthly ritual or performance hack that really works for you?

I have a whiteboard in my office with about 20 daily reminders on it for things ranging from exercise to nutrition to mindfulness and meditation etc… I don’t do ALL of them every day but I do many of them. If you were to ask me what the number one “hack” out of all of them is, however, it would be the fact that I go to bed pretty early and get up pretty early nearly every day of the year. I’m a “nine to fiver” in that this is when I go to bed and wake up. I have been like that for quite a few years and it has been hugely positive for everything. In my experience getting up early and having a morning routine just makes the whole day go far better.

Guilty pleasure, and best travel tip to share with us?

My Guilty pleasure is definitely wine. I love it but it is almost certainly not that great for my productivity!

Best travel tip, it’s extremely hard to choose a “best” about anything to do with travel. There are so many amazing places. If there were a few more off the beaten track kind of places – I’ve always thought Buenos Aires was an amazing city and probably one that people often miss given how far away it is from Europe, the US, and Asia. Closer to home – I think Montenegro and Croatia are great and probably still underrated and under-appreciated (by people in the UK at least). More conventionally, I find that I really miss Italy if I don’t get there more or less regularly – particularly Liguria and I think Sicily is amazing too – but so are the mountains and so is Florence and Siena and Rome and Puglia. Mmm, very difficult question this one.

But the most beautiful places, and best adventures probably still for me were both Pakistan and India. I went to Pakistan immediately after school for several weeks with three friends. I will never forget the sheer scale of the mountains up on the Pakistani / Chinese border, some crazy and very frightening internal flights, the wonderful food, and hospitality wherever you went, and lots else besides.  And I travelled around India for quite a few weeks in 2007 and loved every minute of it.  I really hope to go back to both of those countries with my family one day…

What is your favourite quote or a question you want to leave us with?

I have an iNote in my phone with nearly 100 quotes in it… One I particularly like at the moment given what I’m writing is:

“By what principle is it that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” by Thomas Babington Macaulay.

I also think it is very interesting that the same basic idea can be found across centuries from some of the greatest minds in history. Specifically, in historical order:

“People aren’t disturbed by things, but by the views, they take of them…” by Epictetus.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…” by William Shakespeare.

“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their mind to be…” by Abraham Lincoln.

“Always remember. Your focus determines your reality.” by George Lucas.

Get financially sorted with Andrew Craig