Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds 22-23 September 2012

Written by Karen Bryan

The first Write on Finance Blog Up took place in Leeds,Yorkshire over the weekend 22-23 September 2012. I thought it was about time that UK personal finance & money saving bloggers/writers and people working in the finance industry had an opportunity to get together. The focus of the event was on learning from each other, networking and looking at ways to work together to mutual benefit.


Gold Sponsor of the event was MoneySupermarket. Silver sponsors were FinCon and eZonomics. Destination partner was BeeLocal Media.

Click here to see all the photos from the Blog Up

Posts by Attendees at the Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds

Saturday 22 September

Guest speaker – Emma Bryn-Jones of Zero Credit  talk on “Motivation and Money Management“. Read the notees from her presentation below.

Emma of Zero Credit at Write on Finance Blog Up

“Sales of nail polish increased by 37% at Superdrug last year – Random!!

I am perhaps the least qualified person to talk at this event, due to achieving a PB back in 2002 (no Olympic effort from me – I’m talking about personal bankruptcy) and the fact that I’m not really a personal finance blogger.

So what do I do? Well, I am the founder and a director of the cooperative Zero-credit, which campaigns for borrowers rights. We believe in people and organisations making informed choices about money together – rich, poor, working, jobless, solvent or insolvent, we are all consumers of personal finance.

Growth in nail polish sales were double that of lipstick or lipgloss – random again! A new varnish provides an expression of individuality and the same buzz as a new outfit for 10 per cent of the cost.

What started as personal finance blog back in June 2009 became a research and development business in August 2010, and to date we have provided work for around 10% of our members. For the past three years, our digital influence has been surpassed only by Money Saving Expert and This is Money and put simply, we could not have done any of it without social media.

Apparently, a third of Brits turn to social media for money advice (at an estimated value of £3.4 million a year). Woohoo – we’re on trend – and since we’re talking motivation here, let’s get a slice of that action.

Hang on a minute. All I’ve done is stimulate your Nuccleus Accumbens – a little blob in the sub-cortex region of your brain – flooding it with anticipatory dopamine, so that you focus on the monetary gain and to hell with the likelihood that you’ll ever make that kinda dough.

The money advice stats are interesting and require some critical thinking because they were first published at the start of last week by Yahoo Money (pretty reputable) and then midweek by Christophe Langlois of Visible Banking (trusted by the banks to know where digital trends are at). A rational person would assume them correct.

In cash strapped Britain, £3.4 million may sound like an awful lot, but what exactly is it worth? The current UK household population is just over 26 million, so what we’re saying is that third of these, just short of nine million, save less than 40p per household a year. Not so newsworthy, perhaps, but social media and money saving are on trend and you can’t beat a good bit of copy.

Beloved of economists and personal finance professionals, rationality is the holy grail of decision-making – yet as we’ve seen here, two reputable sources have either been ignorant or gone out of their way to ignore the potential for rational thought.

Earlier this year, none other than Martin Wheatley (soon to head up the Financial Conduct Authority) suggested the regulator’s role as tackling the poor money management, with his now infamous pronouncement “You have to assume that you don’t have rational consumers”.

Financial capability is on trend too, in austerity Britain, because, of course, we should not be in this mess if it weren’t for those pesky borrowers taking on credit so irresponsibly.

And now, I am being subversive. Though you should have guessed that when I started on about nail polish.

But, here’s the crux. How can consumers be rational, when the professionals who inform them are somewhat removed from the perfect state themselves? In fact, it may be worth considering the attributes of a rational actor for a moment to see if any of us here fit the profile?

Stand up for rational decision-making if you’re consistent, keep standing if you have an unlimited attention span… a perfect memory… and are always unbiased.

It’s nigh on impossible right? And this is scientifically born out, by the ground breaking work of Professor Knutson at the University of Stanford, who has been stimulating folks’ Nucclear Accumbens on all sorts of counts.

Do you know what he found? Among some of the world’s leading financial and economic minds (and we’re talking PhD students here, not your average IFA), rational decision-making occurred only 75% of the time – in the wider general population the rate is 50%.

So what happens when rationally, the consumer disagrees with the irrational recommendation of the adviser? Well, in current financial circles, the consumer is wrong. This is both demotivating and damaging, because a belief that you are wrong, that your own decision-making processes cannot be trusted simply leads to a complete abdication of responsibility. So much for financial capability now – simply do as you money adviser tells you!

There’s another key element of Professor Knutson’s work and that is identifying what prevents us from making rational decisions. We are motivated it seems, by gains. As soon as we spot the potential to acquire money, that must have handbag, the latest gadget or Jimmy Choos, all sense of feasibility goes out of the window.

The Neural Accumbens over-rides the pre-frontal cortex where calculations of things like probability are made. You can see where this is going with hedges and swaps and multi-million trades, but that’s not where I want to take you. I want you to think for a moment about nail polish.

Why have sales increased to the tune of some 65% since 2008? What is it about nail polish that makes it a recession buster?

Is it rational to buy nail polish when you’re struggling to make ends meet?

Nail polish brings me back to our capacity to override rational decisions with anticipation because I do wonder whether it encourages us to acquire and use credit irresponsibly

We’re sitting on a debt iceberg in the UK, £1.5 trillion in personal borrowing that has not budged in value whilst shifting from unsecured mainstream sources to secured or sub-prime sources for the past five years

The state of indebtedness is so stigmatized that even leading politicians can diagnose a need for bankruptcy from a distressed caller on a phone-in (Edwina Currie on Radio 5 live earlier this year and to be clear you need a consumer credit licence to do that).

Our fear of the B-word encourages us to pursue lines of credit that are guaranteed to take us there and I’d go so far as to say that that this is entirely logical – A fear of irrational decision making – it would be stupid to have a debt problem right? – ensures that we do not act rationally.

Yet on the financial whizkids go, dishing out never do this, only fools do that, accentuating the negative until the negative is all that we can recall, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom and doom.”

So, my challenge to you this weekend is to buck the downward trend. Post a pick-me-up, share some fun and become the champions of recovery we need you to be.”

Workshop – Paul Knott author of Ouch! “Writing More Engaging/Accessible Content for Finance Blogs”

Paul Knott author of OUCH! workshop leader at Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds

Workshop – Richard Yendall of imutual  “A New Model for Mutuality”

Richard Yendall of imutual's presentation at Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds

Panel Discussion – “Bloggers & Brands Working Together” . Panel members from left to right:

Panel discussion at Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds

Sunday 23 September

Guest speaker –  Miss Thrifty‘s talk on How to Get Press for Your Personal Finance Blog is featured in a slide show below.

Miss Thrifty talks at Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds

Workshop – Darren Cronian of BeeLocal Media on how to build links.

Darren Cronian's SEO workshop at Write on Finance Blog Up

Panel Discussion – “The Landscape & Future of Personal Finance Blogging in the UK”. Panelists from left to right:

Panel discussion on the future of UK personal finance blogging

Workshop – Karen Bryan, editor of Help Me To Save  – “Action List – Improve Your Blog

Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds Venue

Write on Finance Blog Up LeedsThe venue for the Write on Finance Blog Up was the Chambers in Leeds city centre, where we had exclusive use of the Maurice Paynel Suite and the Library with free WiFi throughout the venue.

This article was featured in the Financial Simplicity Carnival, the Totally Money Carnival #60 and Top Articles from UK Blogging Superstars March 2012.

3 Responses to “Write on Finance Blog Up Leeds 22-23 September 2012”

  1. […] in all a thank-you to Karen from helpmetosave  for organising it all and I’m chuffed to be introduced to some more great sites. As far as […]

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