With a background in sports psychology and strategic thinking, Stephen Ford of Premier Financial Management is the kind of financial adviser you want on your side.

Premier Financial Management joined Amber River in 2020.  Based in Marlow, Premier has been providing independent financial advice to individual and corporate clients since 1999.

"To help someone achieve their goals you really have to understand them as a person"

Spend just a few minutes in the company of Stephen Ford and you’ll recognise that he’s a problem solver at heart. That’s the thread that’s run throughout his career, both in Australia and the UK. He started off studying psychology before spending most of his 20s coaching women’s volleyball teams and completing a PhD in Sports Psychology. “It wasn’t until my late 20s before I had what most people would call a ‘proper’ job,” says Stephen.

“I then started working in logistics for Kodak, before I moved into the world of strategy, marketing, and commercial finance. I was working for a mobile phone company in Sydney, when my boss (who was originally from Scotland) was asked to move back to the UK to help turn around Three Mobile’s UK operations. He suggested I make the move as well. Having always liked the idea of living in the UK, I jumped at the chance. Me, my wife and two kids, are still here some 15 years later.”

After spending the best part of a decade in management and consultancy roles, it was only recently Stephen decided to switch lanes and become a qualified financial planner. He explains: “I think I was ready for a new direction away from the corporate life, and financial planning seemed like a natural fit for me. My love of mathematics meant I had no problem gaining the necessary qualifications. I’m a very rational person. Plus, I love puzzles and problem solving: Sudokus, Wordle, you name it. To me, financial planning is about putting together the pieces of the puzzle for clients, with potentially life-changing results.”

"It’s not my job to tell you what to do. It’s my job to coach you, so that you feel empowered to make informed financial decisions"

But that’s not to say Stephen’s years spent studying psychology have been wasted – far from it. “People can have very complicated relationships with their finances. Some know what they should be doing but are just too busy, or they put things off. Meanwhile, others perhaps feel a little vulnerable opening up to discuss their financial goals – or their concerns – with someone. Others are sceptical that the advice they receive will be worth it, while some are just looking for someone to do some of the heavy lifting for them.”

“I tell my clients that it’s not my job to judge you or tell you what to do. It’s my job to coach you, so that you feel empowered to make informed financial decisions that get you where you want to go.”

This mentality – financial coach, rather than adviser – is something that comes across strongly with Stephen. He spent most of his 20s coaching women’s volleyball teams in Australia, even going as far as coaching the Victoria State women’s team. When he moved to the UK he returned to coaching women’s teams, setting up a women’s netball club in Marlow. He now coaches all ages from teens to early 40s. It’s clearly a pursuit he both finds tremendously rewarding, and one where he can apply his problem-solving mindset.

"As vital as good financial planning is, it’s just as important to be flexible and keep an open mind when plans evolve"

Stephen explains: “To coach a successful team, you must start by getting to know each individual. I’m strategically minded, so I’m interested in helping people to find their edge, to be proactive rather than reactive, to keep moving forward. Sometimes you have to earn the right to tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

“To help someone achieve their goals you really have to understand them as a person – that principle applies as much to financial planning as it does to sports coaching.”

Stephen is quick to point out that not everyone’s primary goal is to make as much money as possible. In fact, he spends most of his time talking to people about their life plan, which will ultimately become the backbone of their financial plan, helping to support their lifestyle and goals.

It’s therefore no surprise that Stephen takes a personal pride in helping clients achieve their financial ambitions. He recalls one particular client: “He was a head teacher at a private school and was a few years from retirement. He was living in the property provided for him by the school, so not knowing where he and his wife would be living when he finally retired was really weighing on them. I helped them work on a financial plan that would free up the capital needed to make a house purchase, and to realise they would be comfortable money-wise in retirement. One day, he sent me pictures of the property they had just bought near Belfast and invited me over. That’s the enjoyment I get out of it – the buzz from helping people discover what the possibilities are, and then seeing them put into action.”

Experience has taught Stephen that, as vital as good financial planning is, it’s just as important to be flexible and keep an open mind when plans evolve. He particularly enjoys applying his unique personal perspective to helping other expats who find themselves in a similar situation to the one he faced back in 2007. “Like many expats who find themselves working in the UK, I thought we would only stay here for three or four years before going back to Australia. But now, 15 years later, we’re still here, and have no plans to go back any time – it feels like home to me and my family now.

“So, I always try to remind my clients that it’s a good idea to keep an end goal in mind, accepting that the path that gets you there may wind up being completely different to the one you expected to take.”

You may be interested in reading Stephen’s expert insights into Financial Tax Planning for Expats.

Tax planning considerations for expats
Stephen Ford Premier Financial Management

Life Landscaping® from Amber River

Stephen is one of our professional independent financial planners who can help you create a personal 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.

Get in touch


Life Landscaping® from Amber River

Stephen is one of our professional independent financial planners who can help you create a personal 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.

Find out more about Stephen and his South East team

Amber River South East

Get in touch

To speak to one of our team to arrange an appointment with a financial planner in your area call 0800 915 0000, or alternatively use our contact form here.