Personal Finance Coaching — Increase your Financial IQ, EQ and Confidence
What’s your story?
From a young age, I always had a job; I was a delivery boy at age 13, a telemarketer in my late teens and worked on Wall Street in my 20’s. After a decade at investment bank Merrill Lynch, I decided it was time to start my entrepreneurial journey. I moved to Singapore in 2018 and co-founded a fintech company. On paper it looked amazing. We raised a seed round of financing and had solid partnerships, but my heart was never in it. I made the tough decision to leave to pursue something I was truly passionate about. This led to my recent venture, Cafe Cash Flow, personal finance coaching.
What excites you most about your industry?
The demand and the need. I’ve talked to all sorts of people, in various stages of life, that have worked so incredibly hard to make money, yet don’t know where to start when it comes to managing that money. The industry is always going to exist; as long as people are working for money, there will always be a need for people to learn how to manage it. The other thing that excites me is the idea of financial coaching is new, especially in Asia where there are an abundance of financial advisors, but not coaches.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Asia, inside and out. I am of Indian origin but born and raised in Hong Kong. Outside of small stints in the US for university and work, I have always lived in Asia; Hong Kong, Singapore, and India. Whilst Cafe Cash Flow has clients all around the world, my focus is heavily on Asian clients. There is a massive gap in the personal finance space in Asia. The culture and thought process around money is very different here, and this is where my knowledge and experience comes in.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong by far. The hustle, the edge, the rawness of it. There is something about Hong Kong that brings the competitive edge out in people. I love doing business there! I am completely biased because it is home to me, but there is just something very unique about Hong Kong. Whilst I can’t say I am a fan of its work-life balance, I do appreciate the productivity that comes out of there. Everyone has a mission and they are going to accomplish it, any way possible.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t say sorry unless you truly mean it. As a kid and junior employee, I would always feel like I needed to say sorry when something went wrong. Someone once told me there was no need to say it unless I really meant it; instead, just figure out a way to fix the problem! I rarely ever say sorry anymore in a professional setting. I try to not put myself in the position to be sorry. The rare times I am sorry, it does not come with an excuse, it comes with a solution so it won’t occur again.
Who inspires you?
My wife. She has this incredible way of being appreciative for what she has and being unbelievably positive. Sometimes it’s easy to blame the world for things that happen to you when the reality is we should all be appreciative for what is given to us. Whilst there are people who are better off, there are far more that are worse off, and she has enabled me to focus on what we have and be happy with it; like the simple things in life that we take for granted. The other thing she has is a gift of slowing things down, seeing it for what it is in the present. I am truly inspired by her mindset.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Everyone always says a dog gives you unconditional love. When I decided to launch my company, I knew it was going to be lonely doing it alone. I decided to double down and set up a home office, give up my co-working space, and get a dog. What did I learn? My dog has increased my general happiness, and in turn, made me far more productive than any WeWork could have. The unconditional love given by a dog is absolutely amazing. I now wonder why it took me so long to get one!
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I try to not look back and have regrets. I did what I did and I am happy with it. Even in the bad times, I learned from it and it made me who I am today. Sometimes I wonder, did I stay too long at Merrill Lynch? Other times I wonder, should I have ever left Merrill Lynch? There are always going to be things that you think you would do differently, but it is what it is; it’s made me who I am and I am happy for that.
How do you unwind?
By doing something with my dog, Zadie. I take her for a walk, play catch with her, anything I do with her helps me unwind. Before getting her, I went through two big phases of unwind time. Whilst in the corporate world, I used to shut my phone off and watch SportsCenter. When I had my fintech startup I used to meditate or sometimes read, also with my phone off. The common theme across all is to disconnect from my phone. It took me a while to learn the world will not end if I am not on my phone for an hour a day.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand, without a doubt. Amazing people, great food and I love the culture. It just has such a relaxing vibe. Whilst I understand the city of Bangkok can be hectic, it is so calming compared to a place like Hong Kong, so it’s all relative. I got married in Thailand and I plan on retiring there. It’s the people, their way of living and their relaxed mentality towards everything, that forces you to relax.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE” by Phil Knight. Such a well-written book that shows you the reality of how a business is run, from a start-up to a multinational corporation.
Shameless plug for your business:
Everyone works so hard for their money; it’s time to make your money work for you. As a financial coach, I work with people to increase their financial IQ, EQ and confidence. Everyone is in a different situation in life and there is no cookie-cutter route to financial freedom. This is why I have a personalised approach for you, regardless of where you are in life, to ensure you have a path to get there!
How can people connect with you?
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.