An Interview With Financial Literacy Teacher Darren Collins
An advocate for financial literacy, Darren Collins has big plans in the industry. With a passion to educate our youth and in pursuit of his curiosity, Darren is working to make the world a better place.
With a background in high-level sports as a professional soccer player and coach, Darren knows what it takes to do things to the max. We are happy to be able to catch up with Darren as he embarks on his financial literacy project.
Thanks again for joining us Darren. Please tell us about your background.
I am a part-time Teacher who teaches Financial Studies and Business here in the UK. The student age group that I mainly teach is 14-18 years of age. As a former PE teacher and Football Coach many of my early qualifications gained to get into these positions were a degree in Sports Science and a PGCE – Post Graduate Teaching qualification.
What experiences have helped you in your pursuit of financial literacy education?
Since starting my teaching journey 22 years ago, I have always been interested in other job roles and careers, and as a result have had times during my career where I have changed. These changes have come about because of curiosity, and possibly a need to see whether there was something else out there – possibly FOMO – fear of missing out!
To address this FOMO, I gained an MBA in Sports Management. A qualification that I felt would provide an opportunity to pursue a career in business. Low and behold it did allow this, and for a 2.5 year period I had 3 different jobs in business. The first one was as an IT Recruitment Consultant, where I had the experience of recruiting IT specialists for IT jobs across the world.
Then I worked for Dale Carnegie in London, this was a company that had been built around the famous author and his legacy. Built around his famous book – ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People!’ I was lucky enough to be a sales consultant and encourage business professionals to sign up for their training courses. While working for this company I was lucky enough to be part of their Self Development Training, and it was through these experiences that I learned a lot about myself.
I then took on the opportunity to work in a different country, where I took on the role of becoming a Football/Soccer Development Consultant for a soccer coaching company in the USA. Here, I worked in Cape Cod, near Boston USA, and again I am thankful for the experience of being able to work in another country and help develop soccer in a country that continues to develop this sport.
It was in 2009 where I returned to teaching and football coaching in the UK, and for 6 years I was able to develop a Football Coaching Academy here at the school. However, in addition to this, it was here where I started the process of working for Chelsea FC ladies.
Before going to university, I had been lucky enough to play for Norwich City and their Youth Team up until 18, and the year after that I played for a UK semi-pro team Dagenham Redbridge FC. Retiring at 19 due to a knee injury, football had always been a big part of my life. As a result, the need to give back was big and led me to coach for 20 years. I do still coach, however now I only do this 2 hours a week locally.
Nonetheless, before this I had again had the great experience of coaching with different teams, with I guess the pinnacle was working with Chelsea FC ladies, where funny enough during this experience, I had had the opportunity of working with a handful of the England Players who recently won the European Championships in July 2022.
However, it is since 2015 that I started to hone my financial skills and understanding. It was here where I decided to divert my focus to Finance and Finance Education because I felt I would be able to make a bigger difference through this change.
Since this point I have studied the different areas of finance, in order to greater understand the industry, and therefore hopefully help young people to older people make better financial decisions.
This focus has led me to be able to commit to a part-time Independent Financial & Mortgage Adviser role with Talis IFA here in the UK. I perform this role while still teaching Finance and Business studies to students in the UK.
Wow, that’s quite the extensive path to where you are now. What about the many changes do you feel were beneficial to your path?
Each of the above career changes has brought so many great memories and experiences, ones that I am always keen to share with students. However, while each of these changes has not come without its issues and subtle insecurities, it is the belief that these changes have been necessary to keep me going.
Now that you’ve established yourself in the industry, what advice would you give anybody looking to begin their career?
Now committed to building a career in the Finance Industry, if I was to share anything with people interested in this industry, it would be that having a set of skills in this area really gives you greater control in your life. Finance has, I believe, so many transferrable skills. Meaning, that even if you did not want to serve other people via Finance, then at least you would have a set of skills that would allow you to have greater control over your own future personal finances. This can only be good for you!
Do you have any financial principles you follow and that you could share?
Of all the personal finance principles that I live by, the principle that can be found in the book – The Richest Man in Babylon – by George Clason. And basically, the principle is no matter what you may or may not earn, ensure you save 10% per day/week/month/year of what you earn. Adopting a ‘pay yourself first’ philosophy, the whole principle is based around adapting your lifestyle to the money you earn. This is a philosophy that in principle should not allow you to let outside forces – other people – influence your future spending & saving habits.
If you could go back to being a teenager, what advice would you give yourself?
Having learned so much in the last 7 years regarding finance and the world of finance, if I was to go back to being a teenager again, the key piece of advice I would have given myself is as follows… ‘Don’t be intimidated by any subject of interest to you!’
When I was younger, I always had a curiosity about Finance and Business, however, I didn’t necessarily have the confidence to research/study the subject. I simply thought it was too complicated. Now, there are some parts of finance that could be deemed as complicated, however, if you are motivated to learn, I have always found that I eventually get my head around information.
What would you say to somebody that feels overwhelmed by finances? How can somebody help themselves get started?
To help anyone that would think the same as I used to and are definitely motivated to learn about anything, I would suggest you break that task down into manageable topics. In addition to this, find someone you know who may be able to help you understand the area. Can you find a role model/ mentor that you could follow? These things all make seemingly tough topics a lot easier to digest, whatever this topic/ subject area may be.
You have the opportunity to give one tip to our youth reading this article, what would you like to say to them?
Saving is a habit that can be acquired. I feel if at an early age you could adopt the habit of saving the 10% suggestion stated above then this will have huge benefits later on in your life. With so many statistics showing the benefits of saving and then investing over a longer term, it is a habit/ discipline that can only be adopted if you have the future in mind.
If you need any encouragement in this area, just look up Warren Buffet, here is a great role model for any young saver and investor. Here is a person that started this process at the age of 14, and now at 91 has consistently been regarded as one of the top 10 richest people in the world over at least the last 10 years. Ensure you go Google this person straight after this read.
Thanks for taking the time to help our readers Darren, do you have anything you’d like to leave the readers with?
As I sign off let me leave you with one last quote that I stick by, and I would suggest would be great for any person looking to improve their future finances. ‘Discipline equals Freedom!’ – Jocko Willink. Basically, there is so much good information on the internet telling us all what is needed to be successful with your finances.
However, if you do not execute on all this great information there is no point. So, with this in mind and using Jocko Willink’s quote, the key to success is discipline! Meaning stick to plan(s) that are correct, take full responsibility for your actions, and ultimately over time these compounded executed actions will ultimately create your financial freedom.
Now go read, go study and ensure to execute in a disciplined manner and you can ensure the best possible financial future for yourself. Now go be great!
I’d like to thank Darren for spending his time with us, I know the readers will get great value from him. You can follow Darren on his social handles for more tips, tricks, and advice on how to get ahead in your financial journey.