Finance copywriter during the week, triathlete by weekend
Finance and triathlon are not two subjects that usually go hand in hand, but Love Letters’ senior copywriter David Pawsey is passionate about both
At Love Letters we have frequently espoused the virtues of using blogs to show the human side of a business and to lift the lid on the personalities that make an organisation successful.
So in the first of a series of blogs, we are going to follow our own advice and give some insight into our finance copywriters, starting with senior finance copywriter David Pawsey.
How I became a finance copywriter
I'd be lying if I said it was always a dream of mine to become a finance copywriter, but even from a young age I always enjoyed writing and knew it was something I wanted to do "when I grew up". While, at the age of 38, I'm still waiting for that to happen, I'm proud of what I have achieved in my career and even if I'm not a bestselling novelist (yet - there's still plenty of time!) I feel very lucky to earn a living doing what I love.
So how did I become a finance copywriter? A decade ago I had very little interest in finance, and as my overdraft and student loans will attest, a very limited knowledge of the subject. That all changed when I got a job at Which? (formerly known as the Consumer Association) as a 'verifier'.
This was Which? language for a proofreader and fact checker, making sure articles for the magazine were accurate and truly reflected the analysis of results. But what I really wanted to be doing was writing the reports myself. After a year or so, a research assistant role came up on the Money Team, which I applied for and got.
Steep finance learning curve
It was a steep learning curve, becoming accustomed to the language of finance, but it meant that I was writing for a living! The first article I remember working on was all about credit scoring - how you are rated when you apply for credit and the various things that can affect your credit rating.
After several (often stressful) months of working on the Money Team, I was called into a meeting by my manager. What had I done wrong? Had I been slow in learning the complicated language of finance? Had I made a horrific error that had brought the entire Which? organisation into disrepute?
In fact, it turned out that it was completely the opposite. It had been decided that with the increasing popularity of the finance articles in the main magazine, Which? was going to launch a new publication, Which? Money. A very small (elite!) team was going to be working on it and I was one of them.
Hitting the ground running
As the launch of the new finance-specific magazine was a pilot, it was very much a case of hitting the ground running. Case studies and news stories had to be found and a publication had to be produced at very short notice. But it was the first time that I had been involved in a project where I was able to take real ownership of certain aspects and take the initiative to get the job done.
I'm proud to say that almost 10 years later the magazine is still going strong and, as far as I know, it is the organisation's most successful new launch to date.
Unfortunately, while I had taken on new responsibilities and was working well beyond my initial job description, the powers-that-be did not feel that I was worthy of a more senior role or wage packet.
So I started looking for another job.
"We live in Financial Times"
After contacting a few recruitment agencies, I was told about a reporter position at the business publishing side of the Financial Times. The Financial Times?!
I remember thinking that at least I could tell my children I once had a job interview at perhaps the most respected finance publisher in the world (I didn't yet have children). But what do you know? Somehow I impressed the interviewing editor and was offered a job on a new magazine aimed at mortgage advisers.
Once again it was a steep learning curve. But I got to meet some very impressive people in both the journalism and finance professions and found myself reporting on what could be viewed as some pivotal moments in recent history, such as attending the extraordinary general meeting of Northern Rock just before its collapse and some highly insightful sessions of the Treasury Select Committee.
It was also during this time that digital really took off and I wrote my first ever blog!
It was also during this time that my daughter was born and, after several years at the Financial Times, I decided I wanted a slightly quieter role. In fact, I decided that I was going to be a stay-at-home Dad, with the occasional freelance work thrown in.
From finance writer to triathlete
As you may have noticed, I've rambled on a lot about how I became a finance writer, but not about my interest in triathlon. Well, again like becoming a finance writer, it was something that I gradually fell into. During my time with both Which? and the Financial Times, I would cycle into work practically every day, up to 90 miles a week in commuting.
This wasn't because I particularly viewed myself as an athletic person but more because I found the underground rather claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Whereas cycling was a great start to the day, got me into work feeling energised and was a lot cheaper than a travel card.
When I was no longer able to cycle everyday, I decided to enter a 10k run to try and get my fitness levels back up and have something to aim for. And it's a lot easier to push a buggy while running than it is while riding a bike.
I hadn't realised how much of a buzz it would be competing in an event with lots of other runners, being cheered on by the crowds. I then realised that there were other events where you could run and cycle - so I entered my first duathlon.
I then realised you could actually do events where you start off with a swim. Having grown up by the coast and being a keen swimmer, I signed up for my first triathlon five years ago and have not looked back.
How finance copywriting is like being a triathlete
I think it's fair to say that my abilities as a finance copywriter far outweigh my abilities as a triathlete. While I am highly enthusiastic about triathlon, I am not particularly fast, often finishing in the second half of the field among competitors in the 60-70 age group.
But I never give up and constantly work on my weaknesses. Likewise, if I am writing about an area of finance or business that I have not worked on before, then I immerse myself in the subject and try and find out as much as I can about it.
Having moved to East Grinstead five years ago, I joined the East Grinstead Triathlon Club. It's a very supportive group with excellent coaches who have massively helped me to improve my swimming and cycling technique (although I'm still a terrible runner.)
Likewise, if I am writing about an area of finance that I am not terribly familiar with, I am lucky to have extremely supportive colleagues at Love Letters who can help me. Also, I am never afraid to ask our clients 'stupid' questions to ensure I have fully grasped the subject.
I feel that by plugging away I am always improving, as both a triathlete and a finance copywriter.
If you would like to find out more about the finance copywriting services offered by Love Letters, you can contact us here.
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