For Mike Greely of Amber River’s Colchester team, understanding the factors that drive investment returns is not just part of his day job – it’s more of a lifelong passion.

"Mike admits he “lives and breathes” the macroeconomic investment environment"

If you want your financial life plan to achieve its long-term objectives, you’ll need to invest in ways that enable your wealth to grow. Understanding the forces that shape the way investments perform can be a bewildering subject to most people, but it’s one that Mike Greely approaches with an almost obsessive dedication.

Mike admits he “lives and breathes” the macroeconomic investment environment – in other words, he has a detailed knowledge of the way that global economic forces, like interest rates, taxes and government spending, drive the world of investments. Putting all these parts of the puzzle together helps Mike form a view of where investment markets could be headed, and react accordingly.

“I see it as my job to interpret these macroeconomic factors on behalf of my clients, and I make sure their investment portfolios take them into account,” he explains. “I’m always trying to anticipate what might be coming”.

"We’re into a new regime of high inflation and rising interest rates, and investment markets have struggled"

It’s been a challenging year for investors, with most stock markets in negative territory for 2022 so far. But for Mike, once you’ve put your money into investment markets, it’s important to monitor the latest news and market events, while maintaining a strong sense of perspective.

“What’s been going on in the world this year has been fascinating. We’ve all grown used to living through a period of benign inflation and low interest rates. But things have changed quickly. We’re into a new regime of high inflation and rising interest rates, and investment markets have struggled.

“At difficult times like these, part of my job is to open up and be candid with clients, and explain the challenges we’re all facing, as well as discussing the best way forward for their investment portfolios.”

Mike has been in the financial advice industry for just over two decades. He started out in 2001 working for a company that specialised in helping people approaching retirement, finding them the best available income option for their pension. But as people’s retirement needs changed, Mike found his job “naturally morphed” as well.

As he recalls: “After a couple of years, I really was more of a retirement consultant. This meant helping clients achieve a ‘phased retirement’, where they took some of their pension as an income but chose to invest the remainder.

“For me, this really opened the door to the world of investments, because it involved allocating client pensions into different types of assets – such as equities and bonds – and choosing the right combination of investments to suit their personal circumstances.”

"My job is to help filter out the short-term noise and keep clients focused on their long-term objectives"

As Mike’s role became more focused on financial planning, he set out to gain all the professional qualifications he could. He achieved his Chartered Financial Planner (CFP) accreditation, became a Fellow of the Personal Finance Society and also gained the Investment Management Certificate (IMC).

Mike understood that his interest in investments would prove essential for his career. But in 2007 he put this career on hold, choosing to take a year out to travel the world with his partner before they got married.

“We went to so many different places, including Thailand, Honk Kong, Bali, New Zealand and the Cook Islands. We also lived in Sydney for about six months, and then on to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. It was fantastic, and certainly one of the best experiences of my life.”

When the time came for Mike to resume his financial planning career, it was 2008 – the peak of the global financial crisis and a catastrophic period for investors.

He explains: “It was a time of extraordinary uncertainty. Most of the advice I was giving to investors was simply about trying to keep a cool head. Easier said than done, of course! It was very hard to tell people to stay calm when the headlines in the news every day were telling them that everything was collapsing.

“But my job was to help filter out the short-term noise and keep them focused on their long-term objectives. That kind of experience has been really useful – especially during difficult times like these. It’s great to be able to have helpful conversations with clients and put things into perspective for them.”

“One of the things our industry doesn’t do very well is clear and simple language – it tends to rely heavily on jargon"

It was during those post-crisis years that Mike first met Peter Emery, who ran advisory business Emery (IFA) Limited in Colchester (now part of Amber River). Mike says: “Peter and I were always a really good team, because we’re both so similar. He lives and breathes financial markets too, so working together was always just meant to be. In 2016, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and we’ve been working together ever since – he still co-manages our clients’ investment portfolios with me.”

Emery (IFA) Limited joined the Amber River Group in 2021, and rebranded under the Amber River banner at the end of that year. While the new structure has provided Mike and his team with access to a larger central support team, it’s also helped ensure that he can continue to give his clients an exceptional service built on trust – something Mike believes is the most important aspect of any adviser/client relationship.

“When I meet a client for the first time, one of the first questions I ask is whether they have received financial advice before. I want to know about their past experiences, and how that compares with what I can bring to the table.”

“One of the things our industry doesn’t do very well is clear and simple language – it tends to rely heavily on jargon. I get to know the client in front of me, so I can present financial planning ideas in a way that makes them feel engaged and fully on board with what we’re discussing. At Amber River, we don’t just want to help deliver on client objectives, we also want to help by giving them the knowledge to make informed decisions along the way.”

Mike thinks that money can often be a taboo subject between family and friends, and that sometimes people prefer talking to someone objective who can add value. He explains: “People like speaking to someone who is there to listen, and can provide honest, impartial advice as well as putting in place those important building blocks that make up their financial life journey.

“I’ve known some of my clients for so long, they feel like extended family. They trust me enough to tell me things they don’t share with other people. The role of a financial planner has evolved so much down the years. Having the opportunity to build those deep and trusted relationships is really powerful.”

Mike explores some of the reasons behind the market turbulence, and explains why patience and portfolio positioning can help investors.

Life Landscaping® from Amber River

Mike is one of our professional independent financial planners who can help you create a plan for your personal or business financial life landscape. We know an individual’s journey is unique and very personal; that’s why we start by understanding your dreams and aspirations. Then, together, we formulate a plan to give you the best chance of making them happen.

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