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Meet the City man teaching footballers to mind their money

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After moving from football to finance, Michael Jarman reveals his mission to hammer money sense into footballers

Is there no stopping Michael Jarman?

The City trailblazer has bounced into finance from the world of football (with a stop-off in sales on the way), and it seems H2O Markets’ chief market strategist has barely stopped for a breather.

So much so that a BBC documentary maker, Cherry Healey, spent most of her documentary covering his 20-hour working day as a City lad in near maternal worry and astonishment.

Few men could shrug off being told in front of the cameras that their work put them in danger of being impotent. Healey worried that he was’t getting enough quality time in with his son and was running himself ragged.

In defiance of a typical TV happy ending, Jarman was’t going to be converted – concluding: “Am I going to change? No!”

But that’s not to paint Jarman as a villain, instead to illustrate how professionally focused he is. On ringing at our first arranged time to profile him, he coughs: “Any chance you can ring back in a bit? Just got to finish something.” Work comes first.

Don’t take the Watford-born Jarman for some City born-and-bred character though. He started out not in the world of economics or wonkish academia but playing football for Reading at the age of 13.

Afterwards, his burgeoning football career took him to Luton Town and then home to Watford at 16. During the summer when football was off, Jarman would get his first taste of business experience in helping out his stepdad’s construction company.

He didn’t stay around at Watford for too long, going off to Stevenage and then Crawley football clubs. “Premiership may have been a bit of a push!” he chuckles.

Even if he wasn’t rubbing shoulders with Beckham and co, the footballing level was of the sort where they earn “maybe 2 or 3 grand a week”, as Jarman puts it with apparent nonchalance.

Still this would not do for Jarman, who was put out by the fact that “it’s good money but you could only do that for ten years”. And so he hopped across into sales, becoming a second hand car dealer.

“I got bored and said to myself I’ve done everything I can achieve, by then I was about 20.” A move across to BMW to sell their cars didn’t help, even though he rose to be one of their top used car salesmen. Jarman even started up his own car company buying and selling cars, but he quit that due to boredom.

What made him pack it all in at the age of 22 to chase a job in the City? To put it bluntly: Will Smith. And Jarman’s young son.

“I bought the Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith, the story was very similar – he was a salesman too but of x-ray machines. He had a son too, I had my son at 20. He wanted to better himself and so did I.”

Now 26-years-old, Jarman recalls: “Lo and behold I took the exams and in eight months became a basic account opener and came to the City and started working for a couple of firms and four years later here I am, effectively with my own brokerage.”

And now he still keeps close to the footballing world, running seminars for them on how to manage their money. He tells me it’s all about instilling the “old banker” values in them and “trying to educate them on why markets influence on a day-to-day basis”.

Amid the showbiz prima donnas of pro football, you may think Jarman has got quite a task on his hands. When I spoke to him about the links between business and football, it seemed like this ex-footballer knew how to bash some sense into them.

Q: How big a leap is it to go from football to the City?

A: Football players are fickle, they all follow the herd. Football players make a lot of money at the top of the game in a short space of time.

There are also a lot of players who live the lifestyle like they’re making a lot of money but they’re not and they put themselves under a lot of unnecessary pressures.

We’re all human beings, we want to achieve something. Footballers train very hard, they’re very motivated. They’re great leaders. For me, I didn’t’ get a PhD from Oxford University or anything like that. I genuinely believe that whilst we’d be shocked that ‘How has a football player turned himself into someone doing well in the City?’. Should that be shocking? For me that is not the right mentality because that is what we’re used to as a society with people not pushing their boundaries.

Speaking to the players I know and look after, I try to get them out of the mindset of ‘I’m making a lot of money right now, so I’ll think about ten years, ten years from now”. I say ‘No, think about ten years from now, now!” That’s what I’m trying to change.

Someone I look after would be on 20 to 30 grand a week. Once they stop playing football, this is it for them. They’re never going to have that earning again. They’re living the lifestyle like they’re going to maintain that.

In a football club, out of 10 players you’re going to get two who’ll be financially savvy and stable, two who don’t care and are idiots, and you get six who are going to be swayed to the left or the right. It’s my job that they start looking after their finances in a more responsible manner.

Michael Jarman

Michael Jarman

Q: Do footballers have good qualities for going in business?

It’s the leadership, the motivation, the commitment. Whilst we sit there thinking footballers are glam, they train so hard for their money. They are paid, they are entertainers, they’re no different to actors or musicians. They do train hard though, I look at the guys I know in the game and they’re tweeting pictures of themselves up in the morning training in the snow.  That takes a lot of commitment for someone to go out and do doggy runs on a freezing cold day. They condense a 20-hour day into a six-hour day!

Q: Doesn’t David Beckham show how business-like footballers can be?

The problem is that at the top end of the game, there are people like Rooney and Beckham who’ll have such a team around them because they know that they can be that sensation that they’ll always be okay. For Beckham, he’s got a good team of advisers around him, but that’s not the case for a player at Reading on £20,000 a week. We all think maybe he should be like Beckham but he’ll never that opportunity because he’ll never have that team around him.

Q: Is your plan to remain in the City?

It’s still to remain in the City, I want to be seen as the fire signal of the footballing industry n terms of here’s the money man so if you need to understand something finance orientated, or you want a job in the City, or want to understand basic financial prudence or the markets, that’s what I want to be.

Q: Are your clients mainly footballers?

I’m looking after everyday high net worth individuals who have stocks and shares on the market, but then I look after football players as well.

In a few years down the line I’d like a second business that is more traditionally buy and hold, in which I could say look I control a fund of £50m myself which would be the amalgamation of 100 football players all putting in £50,000 each. I’m thinking of buying £2m properties and converting and doing it up for them. Again I don’t want to just take the money off them and run it for them, the idea is to take the money from them, invest it for them so they understand. It’s almost like a members club so we say we’r
e investing it into this and this is the return that we’re getting on it.

Great, thanks for your time Michael!




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