Scotsman Money: Calton's Tom Ham welcomes a forum for Scottish perspectives

Nice to meet you. I’m Tom Ham, chief executive of Calton. We’re a financial planning practice based in Rutland Square, Edinburgh, and I’m pleased to be able to add my welcome as sponsor of this inaugural Scotsman Money supplement.
Image: Adobe StockImage: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock

We were keen to support this new venture because – incredibly – there is no dedicated personal finance coverage in Scottish media, whether in print or online. And that’s a shame.

While lots of the principles of being structured and smart with money are the same wherever you live, it’s undeniable that there are uniquely Scottish perspectives we need to consider. Just look at your tax bill if you live north of the Border.

The London-centric media simply doesn’t have time or space to cover the things we need to read about, and while it’s always lovely to read about house prices in Notting Hill or the price of a flat white in Streatham, I for one am looking forward to reading – and writing – about Scottish financial matters, from land and property through to the country’s taxation, through to ensuring assets move smoothly from generation to generation in our unique legal system. (That said, I consider the price of a flat white in Merchant City or Stockbridge is absolutely outrageous.)

Over the months and years to come you’ll read lots in these pages about pensions, and tax, and investment portfolios, and insurance and all sorts of products, techniques and strategies from all sorts of intelligent people to help you build, protect and maintain wealth. But before we get into any of that, I’d like to use the rest of my first column to ask a simple question: what is the purpose of wealth to you?

The reason I ask is that wealth always means something, and we’re often really bad as people at working out what that is.

Many clients my firm work with start out believing that they’re building wealth for its own sake – to just have as much as they can. But, underneath there’s much more going on, and before you can work out what’s best to do with your finances it pays to take a little time to work out what you’re trying to do and why.

Maybe you want to jack the day job in early and do something else – but what? What will it cost and how do you need your finances structured in order to make it happen? Maybe that’s not you; maybe you have no set end goal, but you do have a strong need for security and independence – something which if you come from a modest background like me often rings true.

Whatever it is you are trying to do, and however you feel about it deep down, will drive the financial plan you need to put in place. Money is a utility; we use it for things and not for its own sake. But it’s also deeply emotional. It’s the tool we use to buy things to show our loved ones we are thinking of them; it’s how we build resilience to protect our children; it’s how we shore up our lives against external interference. It’s hard-wired deep into our reptilian brainstem.

And all of that means it’s very hard to make dispassionate decisions on what’s best to do at any given point in time. That’s how scammers – of whom there are far too many – get results with otherwise highly intelligent people.

That plan will flex and change, of course. That’s why you need to review it regularly – and if you do use some help along the way, why any self-respecting financial planner should be doing so at least once a year with you.

But if you can be structured and intentional with the spending, the saving, the investing, the protecting and the passing on of money, you are always going to be ahead of the game.

So as we get going with what we at Calton hope will be a really successful new venture for The Scotsman and you soak up the wisdom, news, tips and more from Scotsman Money, our hope for you is that you will always take a moment to think about the why as well as the what when it comes to your finances.

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