This week I’m delighted to bring to you my interview with Jonquil Lowe, editor of the title ranked #1 on our best retirement planning book shortlist The Good Retirement Guide (click to be taken to Amazon).
Jonquil writes books which fall under the following genres:
Incredibly, Jonquil is the second author to feature not once, but twice on the same shortlist on this website. She joins Rob Dix who has penned two property titles that are listed on our best property investment books ranking.
Jonquil has kindly agreed to answer 5 interview questions which I’ve published below. If you’d like to contact Jonquil or follow what she’s doing, you can follow her on Twitter as @PersFinRes.
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Interview with Jonquil Lowe
Please could you tell us a little about your professional background and why you felt inspired to write the book?
Jonquil: I started out working as an investment analyst at a City of London stockbroker. It was a great grounding in understanding financial markets and the principles of investing, but I really found my niche in life when I moved to the consumer organisation, Which?. I’m passionate about everyone having the information and tools they need to navigate their personal finances. It’s at Which? that I started writing books and that’s continued during my subsequent freelance and academic careers. One of my earlier titles was about pensions and retirement planning, and I remember having huge respect for a rival book, The Good Retirement Guide – then edited by Rosemary Brown. So, I was very honoured to be invited by Kogan Page to take over editing this long-running title from 2020.
This title is a guide suitable for beginners. What drove you to write such a comprehensive guide compared to a more specialist title?
Jonquil: Given my background in personal finance, if I had started from scratch I might have focused just on those topics! But it’s a huge strength of The Good Retirement Guide that it has always had a more holistic view of retirement. Taking over a title that has been running successfully for over 30 years, I am in some ways a recipient of the wisdom that the previous editors have embedded in the book. And they were very prescient. Today, the financial capability movement has moved on from merely instilling financial nous to understanding that the goal is well-being, and this recognises that personal finance is woven into all aspects of our lives and cannot be silo-ed off from areas such as health, housing, work, leisure and travel. We’ve seen painfully how true that is during the pandemic.
In the course of researching and writing your book – did you come across anything that surprised you?
I’ve been researching and writing about retirement planning for more years than I care to remember. It’s a continuous process, so editing The Good Retirement Guide in itself didn’t throw up surprises. But the issue that has changed dramatically for today’s cohort of people approaching and entering retirement is dealing with uncertainty. The shift away from annuities (a type of secure income) since the introduction of ‘Freedom and Choice’ from 2015 (the policy that has made living directly off your pension pot – ‘drawdown’ – accessible to all) was a watershed. It has created a generation of retirees who need to manage their investments and make risk-based decisions. This makes it essential to understand your own capacity for loss and attitude towards risk but crucially also that you need to take some risks to stand a good chance of reaching your goals. That sits uncomfortably with many people’s desire for certainty in retirement.
For budding financial writers, what is the one piece of advice would you give to those writing to educate beginners about money and investing?
It goes without saying that you must research thoroughly and be scrupulously accurate. However, what I would stress is that you may have the most important message, but it will be lost if nobody reads it. So, even though you’re writing non-fiction, you need to deploy many of the same techniques that apply to good fiction. For example, you need to tempt your reader in, appealing to their curiosity and wonder as well as their need for hard facts; and you need a strong narrative and logical flow to keep your reader engaged.
And finally, I like to ask all authors; when saving and investing your own money for retirement, what is your preferred investing style?
I have a core of passive funds but supplement them with active funds targeting areas I think are particularly important or that further increase my diversification, including environmental, social and governance (ESG), global and smaller company funds. I also take into account my wider assets, such as property and savings accounts when thinking about diversification. If/when I retire, I might go back to my stockbroking roots, analysing my own stock choices, but that needs a lot of time!
A selection of published works by Jonquil Lowe
Jonquil has also penned a series of short guides for Which? the UK consumer group. These include Pensions Explained, a paperback guide to help Brits understanding how pensions work.