In the second of our four-part series in conversation with Ian Richards, founder of Work to Live Financial Planning, we meet the man on a mission to promote the concept of ‘working smarter not harder’ to clients and entrepreneurial IFA peers alike; a mantle that’s proving even heavier to carry during these times of global crisis. 

Ian Richards, IFA and founder of Work to Live Financial Planning (credit: Ian Richards)

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“The challenge, when it’s your own company, is, even if you’re not working, to switch off. You’re constantly trying to think about things, when I’m trying to go to sleep at night, my brain can kind of be whirring with lots of ideas for the business and it is quite difficult to kind of wind it back in.

“This is even more prevalent with the Coronavirus madness that’s happening now and the additional strains that it is placing on everyone.”

Ian Richards’ signature combination of creative mad professor + laid-back calm is being put to very good use at a time when IFAs and clients are under immense financial stress, observing what appears to be (hopefully a temporary) economic meltdown.

“You’ve always got something going on in the background”, Ian says of the pandemic and how he’s choosing to react to it, “But it comes down to being able to take headspace and time away from the news.  My belief is at the moment we need to be adapting how we work and our approach so we can thrive when we come out of this crisis. People need to be front and centre, supporting and helping people without any expectations of anything in return. It is these people that will be remembered when the crisis is over and best positioned to help more clients in the future.


“If I find myself getting distracted by the news which is easy to do so at the moment, I ask myself, ‘What’s your purpose and is it helping?’. For people, whose sole purpose is their work and that’s what they want to do for most of the time, if the work becomes disrupted or dries-up, the impact might not just be financial. 

“For me, work has never been the be all and end all, which is why the name of my company is Work to Live.” 

On life after COVID-19 and whether or not recent events have changed his worldview, Ian adds:

“My whole ethos is that whatever you’re doing is for the life that you want. No matter where we all end-up in a few months’ time, I think I will always ‘work smarter, not harder’, although throwing looking after kids into the mix is definitely harder work.  

“I think there’s a perception that you’ve got to work hard to be successful. We get told you can’t be successful unless you work really, really hard. In some cases, yes, that’s actually true. If you’re a smaller company, then yeah, there are times where you’re going to have to graft a lot harder than massive companies will, to be in a good place when the crisis clears. 


“But, there are a lot of people who work really, really, really, really hard, and are not necessarily successful! So, if you’re banking on the fact that if you just work hard, you’re going to be really successful, you’re probably gonna need to work on your mindset.”

Ian’s own mindset and his views on work/life balance were formed with a little help from the aspirational moments of his childhood:

“I was very fortunate. I grew-up in a household that had a reasonable amount of money, so I always had holidays and lived in a nice house – I want at least the same kind of lifestyle for my own children.” 

Although he’s still enjoying the challenges and highs of being a fairly new entrepreneur, Ian has a keen sense of how the business will evolve with him as he implements changes to his daily routines later down the line, when he approaches legal retirement age. 

“I’m very keen to reframe the concept of retirement. The current construct is, ‘I want to get to 60 and stop working and then do nothing for 30 years’ and to me, that sounds absolutely terrible! What I’d love to do is get to the point where I’m working for nine months of the year from the age of about 40 until the age of about 70; then after that 70, work for six months of the year and be able to travel.


“So, all my work derives from trying to develop a lifestyle that allows me to live the way that I want to live. One of the things I want to do is to maybe work for a month in Japan, where my wife’s from and having my business gives me the freedom to work remotely from anywhere in the world.”

On how his mindset and attitude to retirement informs his work with clients, Ian says:  

“Part of my job is to encourage people to have a think about what they want. As an adviser to clients that are mostly in their early 40s or late 30s, the concept of time is completely redundant because these people are so far off any form of ‘retirement’, in most cases. So, I try to reframe retirement with them and talk about how they can create opportunities for mini-sabbaticals or to allow them to set goals around experiencing different things.”

Aware of the difficulties associated with helping clients working traditional 9-5 job to implement this sort of lifestyle, Ian comments: 

“I think the challenge that companies have is that they’re going to have to become receptive to this new way of dipping in and out of work and ‘retirement’. I know Millennials get criticised for embodying the ‘you only live once’ attitude and maybe some do take it to the nth degree sometimes, but we’re driving this change within the world of work and this is how people are going to want to work in the future.” 

To win a copy of  Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, simply like, react to or share this blog post on LinkedIn or Twitter. Winners will be picked at random in the next 14 days and notified via social media 📲😀