Putting Close to £50,000 Into Stocks, ISAs, Pensions And More

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Having had a bitter experience purchasing an off-plan PBSA – I turned my attention back to my agency for a little while.

My ultimate aim with Pearl Lemon was and is to build a brand that’ll last through the sands of time.

I also want to build something that’s bigger than my own name – I got this idea from the founder of Keystone Accountants.

He was in the process of selling off part of his business but was retaining the brand name and told me that he wanted to build something like HBS (Harvard Business School).i.e a famous school where no one knows who the founder is (at least in the UK).

He told me this about 12 months into my agency journey and that idea stuck with me. And slowly over time, I intend to remove myself from the brand Pearl Lemon

Building brand value (Apple, Hugo Boss, Nike, Tesla, Disney) is absolutely huge and I encourage you all to do this for both your business and personal brands.

So excusing this diversion – let’s go back to the point at hand:

Alternative investments.

And ultimately these would be the investments I would make:

  • EIS investment for an energy company (Renovare) – 5k

  • Stocks in a gambling platform (Bentley Global) – 10k

  • A mortgage miscalculation deal (Allanson) – 12k
  • An ISA (St James Place) – 3.5k
  • A Pension (St James Place) – 15k

Looking at it – these numbers (relatively speaking) are pretty tiny I guess – but I’m happy with them for my first 18-20 months have come out of a pretty bum deal with the property –

I want to talk through not the actual ‘rationale’ for each deal – but rather my reasons for making such investments.

The money in these investments is all derived from Pearl Lemon – which because of the nature of the model runs at around 25-40% gross profitability depending upon the deal.

TBH my accountant has told me, and implores me to delve into this further to have a ‘firmer grip’ upon the numbers – but I really only have one ‘north star’ in mind.

As long as I’m making significantly more than I’m spending; (unless I’m reinvesting) – it doesn’t pay to sweat the details.

This I got from Grant Cardone whereby he says that ultimately the only number you need to know is are you making more than you’re spending?

For me, the model of Pearl Lemon helps me to do that.

And as long as my clients get great value along the way – then everybody wins

What this led to was having £25-50k cash in my company bank account at the end of my first year sitting there doing nothing.

It was a mix of tax/VAT money, salaries, and profit all mixed together.

And leaving it in the bank not working for me seemed illogical.

This is what my reading taught me.

That the banks were/are the worst place to leave your money. I didn’t overthink this part too much as it’s what I’ve been hearing for years.

But then no one suggested a viable alternative

And then what do my friends/family know anyway?

None of them was massively rich or wealthy.

This led me to Google like a madman for all of….7 minutes looking for:

‘Invest your money with a 10% return’

‘Alternative investments

‘Invest my money

And various combinations of these keywords

I’d already decided that ‘no way am I putting money into property again’ as I kept searching –

Of course, I then got hit with a load of Google ads from various investment firms – at which point I signed up to about 10 of them and then called it a day (i.e stopped searching)

Now, this might seem trivial so far but honestly, it really isn’t –

As I want to explain my rationale behind what was fundamentally a 15-minute task that has led to almost £800k sitting in various investments if we include my debt capital.

I’m pretty pleased that given I’m <2 years into Pearl Lemon.

But I’ll break down those numbers in a separate email.

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Previous to this, I spent around 20 minutes searching for various investment strategies and almost immediately got frustrated.

The Internet is a labyrinth and you can easily get drawn into its madness.

As you can see above apparently I can get 18% returns!

My main focus was always to grow my agency; not manually search for the best interest % rate or ROI I could levy on a 10k investment

So with this in mind, I decided to find an advisor that could take me through absolutely everything I need to know to make smart investments. I didn’t (and still don’t) have the time to become a professional investor.

Even though I’m technically classed as one – which always makes me laugh.

And that approach has been instrumental to me in my journey.

Pay for advisors, pay for coaching, pay for DFY (done-for-you) services and it’ll shortcut your route to success

Don’t sit and try to learn to do everything yourself.

You will NEVER be as good as the other guy who has spent ALL his years reading up on the best investment strategies.

So whilst that guy (let’s call him George) may not have the funds to invest himself – he can make an EXCELLENT advisor and get knowledge of the marketplace all through the advice/feedback he gets from his clients.

This fundamental premise is the reason the whole advisory industry exists. Whether that’s alternative investment advisors/life coaches/business coaches/boxing coaches/mortgage brokers/solicitors/estate agents…

These are all the advisors I currently use.

And that is how I ended up investing £45.5k into these various ‘better than the bank investments’ which are projected to return from 12-500% (and 18-24 months later it’s still all on track) and allow various tax breaks (EIS) to help me grow.

Some of you may be wondering actually how I carry out my due diligence – as otherwise, it sounds like I just naively pick haha.

There are some layers to this whereby no one single thing will ‘win’ me over, whereas one single thing can give me cause to pull out of investments.

These questions I might ask before making an investment are:

  • How long has the company been around?
  • How long have YOU been part of the company/
  • Can I talk to a previous/current client?
  • Can I talk to a previous/current client in my niche/like me?
  • Talk me through the investment
  • Talk me through the worst-case scenario
  • Talk me through the best-case scenario
  • How does investing with your work?
  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • My other advisor will study the investment you presented to me is that ok?
  • Can you get me a better rate?
  • Do you promise to keep my best interests at heart?
  • Can I trust you?
  • Anything else I should know?

You’ll also throw objections in to see how they’re handled and therefore this speaks to the depth of skill and experience in the company:

  • Sounds like the same deals as other firms?
  • I’m not quite convinced
  • Why can’t I speak to someone?
  • I looked you up and I can’t find you – why’s that?

You’ll also judge for (for audio calls)

  • Tone of voice
  • Energy
  • Empathy
  • Skillset

Since I’m not qualified to judge the relative merits of the deal – I can confidently judge the merits of the person to form an impression (of you Sam Beck!)

And the impression was good enough to invest.

Incidentally – the company who advised me about all of these investments actually shut down (Amyma) when they became FSA-regulated. Being awarded a licence took so long that their cash flow issues killed them.

They were partners to St James Place (SJP) and my brother-in-law also works there, and so making a pension investment with SJP seemed like a sensible affair.

My accountant (Varun at Consultax) told me there are ‘better deals out there – but I enjoy doing business with my brother-in-law – he’s able to advise me and it gives us a good reason to keep in touch regularly.

So overall:

All my investments are good, working and have gone up in value – whilst in parallel I’m sure 1/2 of them (maybe more) could/will turn into turkeys.

But I’m relatively confident I’ll double or triple overall my investment – which is hard to do elsewhere.

I’ll sporadically have periods where I look into the investment space and Google/YouTube something or ask for some advice with the loose rule being that ‘try something new at least 30% of the time when investing.

Some other final things I tend to do:

There’s a good book appears on the ‘Profit First’ principle by Mike Michalowicz that I’ve never read but the principle is pretty simple in essence and it’s 100% what I do.

Pay yourself/your investments first.

My accountant laughs because I constantly feel broke (and it’s true I have barely any money in my accounts at any given time).

When money comes in and I have a ‘cash surplus’ of any kind – before I even run the numbers I’ll put money into one or another investment/growth vehicle.


£2.5k into my pension (I did this two days ago when I saw I had £9k in my account – even knowing I owed £6k on my credit card alone I did it anyway) or £1k into my ISA or £2-5k into Forex.

And then this gives me a great incentive to go out and win more business/keep on top of things from this angle.

The pressure forces me to drive further growth of Pearl Lemon.

The immediate/short-term (I need to win clients to pay Pearl Lemon bills aaaaaa!)

The medium-term (Property/EIS/Stocks etc)

And the long-term (Property, Pension)

So that’s my investment portfolio/strategy at a high-level

In some respects, it may well be the case that these stocks never return either – in a world where cash is king – the projected ROI of these shares – is just that – projected and held in a company until I wish to sell them.

And given they are private companies – selling them and being able to sell them is no simple thing I expect.

As it stands it’s been excellent to involve me in several deals and time will ultimately tell of the returns they bring.

But as I and I remember it well – was investing in a vehicle with medium to long-term returns – I still hadn’t hit upon anything that could start giving me an immediate income.

But the next investment I was about to make….would have me trading tens of millions on the stock market….and introduce me to yet another crazy world.

I’ll tell you all about it in the next newsletter