Tell us a bit about yourself, let’s start with your name and favourite food…
Toby Freeman, pasty and / or sometimes a very large lasagne!
Boring questions are now banned. Tell us what you did before financial advising.
I was very fortunate to call rugby my job for 15 years. I played for a few clubs along the way including a brief 2-year stint in the Basque Country in Northern Spain. I fell in love with the town, Ordizia, and the region and was able to become fluent in Spanish (not so much anymore-use it or lose it). The English journey began at Exeter Chiefs, popped over to Spain, then I began my long journey to reach the premiership. I played a further 8 years in the second division for Rotherham, Nottingham and the Cornish Pirates before getting my shot at the top league, age 32, for Harlequins. I then retired during the lockdown and began the transition into financial planning.
Was it always going to be financial advising after rugby?
Well, no not really to be honest. I did an undergraduate degree in Sports Science and then a further master’s degree in Psychology. I thought for a long while I’d go into teaching, but rugby took the driving seat. I actually had one of my best friends and former teammates, Dan Montagu, also an SJP adviser call me when I was playing for the Cornish Pirates. I’ll never forget the quote “This job is about people mate-you’d absolutely love it”. 3 years later I was speaking to financial advisers in and around London whilst playing for Harlequins. Genuinely I didn’t like most I bumped into as it was like something from the Matrix the number of pinstripe suits and the same conversations about funds under management. But I quickly realised that there was an opportunity to provide a service to people in a way that maybe didn’t follow the typical trend but focused on getting to know the person, not just their bank account. I got through the exams-finished the SJP training program and began advising in July 2020.
How was the transition?
The steep learning curve from lifting weights and rugby training to helping organise people’s retirements and investment strategies was incredibly challenging but I loved it. It was as simple as if you don’t get out and meet people-you won’t grow a business. So, I went out and met people. Then business started to come. I coached rugby during the 2-year post-professional rugby stage to almost softly remove myself from the game, but it was also great for growing my new business and keeping mentally healthy as I learnt my new craft. I met Matt, Natale, Kelly and Emma at Forbes last year and moved from my existing SJP practice in the north, where I was remotely linked, and I haven’t looked back since. My clients all moved from my previous practice thanks to the hard work of Matt and Natalie and now I couldn’t be enjoying the job more being a part of a local team in Tunbridge Wells-30 mins from my home in Biddenden
Home is Biddenden – lovely spot. Who’s there with you?
Well, home was Cornwall-a bit of my heart will always be there. My wife Rachel, who’s from Ireland originally, and one of the hardest-working women I’ve ever met, is here in Biddenden with me. She says she loved watching me play rugby all those years but we have our weekends back now so I beg to differ…She’s a wonderful wife and will be a great mum. Also, our 8-year-old retriever Oscar-a top dog. We have our first child arriving in April of this year and Matt and Natale are great in sharing parenting tips with me! “Get your sleep in” is up there.
Thoughts for the future at Forbes?
It’s a great feeling to be part of a team again as I have genuinely missed it since retiring from professional sport. I certainly want to help grow the business and take as much learning from Matt and the team as I Can. But also having Natale, Kelly, Jacqueline, Emma and Josh in the changing room , so to speak, also really adds to the quality financial planning performance my clients will continue to get.
I’m really proud of my ability to build relationships that ensure when it comes to planning my clients have a little more time to do what they want. It sometimes feels like my job isn’t about explaining fees or fixating on fund performance-it’s actually has a lot to do with simply just giving back more time to my clients to enjoy what they want to do knowing I am keeping an eye on whatever plan we put in place. And the team at Forbes Financial are helping me ensure this for my clients.
We also do really good Christmas dinners at Forbes – ask Josh his views next year.