Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 28th 2015 Contents SBG4 PROFILE
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 28 • 2015
Nick Dean, financial analyst:
The Ask Nick column has been a fix-
ture in the Sunday BG since its start
last year April, but while Nick has
been a wellspring of information for
those seeking to improve their finan-
cial affairs, his real life alter ego, Nicholas
Dean, 45, is a little more reticent.
"I m really an introvert," Dean said, as the
Sunday BG turned the spotlight on the finan-
cial advisor, who is such an integral part of
the publication. "I was always afraid to talk.
Imagine a person who had to do a workshop
for money. And, he has never, ever, done a
presentation in his life. I was trembling so
much. I have never sweated so much. It was
the most gruelling three hours I had in my
Now a veteran of many workshops, Dean
thanks that sympathetic first audience in
2004 and also God for his subsequent suc-
"That is what started my career as a trainer.
Because I started doing more workshops, the
individual clients got me workshops and the
workshops got me more individual clients."
But before the training, the workshops and
the individual consultations, Dean, who has
been operating through his company The
Financial Coaching Centre Limited for over
a decade, had racked up debt and failed at
"I got to understand the problems that
people have with money. I, myself, had chal-
lenges with money. They don t teach you
about money in school. So you make bad
mistakes with it because you think you are
doing the right thing," said Dean.
His formative years were spent at a catholic
school in the south Trinidad, followed by time
at St Stephen s College in Princes Town.
"I am a South boy. I grew up in South. My
family actually lives in San Fernando. I visit
them from time to time. I come from a family
of 5 boys. And of course, a father and mother.
I am number four. Most of us are entrepre-
Dean believes the family s entrepreneurial
cast may have a lot to do with the fact that
his father owned a business, a small trucking
company, that delivered groceries in the days
before supermarkets bought their own vehi-
cles. But, he said, his mother, a homemaker,
was also very influential.
"I think my mum was really the driver in
terms of teaching us to think independently,"
said Dean. Her compassion towards others
also made its mark. The financial advisor said
she was always quick to help anyone in need.
"I would say that was the core, the cor-
nerstone of everything I do," said Dean, "The
drive to write what I write about is really
about helping people. That is my mum coming
'Nobody going to pay for advice'
However, Dean was not always so sure
about what he wanted to do. He taught for
a year after completeing his A levels at St
Stephens then left for a job at National Com-
mercial Bank. He was 20 years old at the time
and worked there for 5 years, spending most
of those years in the debt collection depart-
ment. Even with a steady job, he flirted with
entrepreneurship. He set up several businesses
over the period, but realised he had much to
"I was always trying to figure things out.
Always trying to make some money. There
were many failed attempts at many things.
As many business people will tell you, they
would have tried things and they did not work
One attempt would be particularly costly
for Dean, causing him to re-evaluate how he
approached business and ultimately, money.
"At that point in time, (1992) I partnered
with a guy. For his protection. I wouldn t say
the nature of the business, but that business
didn t go so well. I was about 21. I was the
person who provided the capital. I had a lot
of problems and I think this augured well for
my knowledge about business but I lost money
and it was a very painful time. One of the
most painful times in my life."
Dean said he put the experience behind
him and focused on his job at the bank, leaving
NCB when it became First Citizens Bank. His
next stint in banking was in the debt collection
department of the then Royal Bank of Trinidad
Dean observed that working in banking
didn t make him immune to bad financial
decisions. It was up to him to internalise the
lessons learned from his experiences and to
increase his knowledge.
"You know when you are down and out
and you have no other options, you start to
do a little introspection. At that point in time,
I did a lot of introspection."
He also did a lot of reading. At 30, one of
the books he discovered was life changing. It
was Robert Kiyosaki s Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
He also played the Cashflow Quadrant game,
which he said was very instrumental in teach-
ing him how to manage money. While at the
bank, he completed the Certified Financial
Planning course through ROYTEC.
In 2000, he left RBTT to start a career in
the insurance industry with Guardian Life.
He took this decision because of another
book, the title of which he couldn t recall,
where he read that the ability to sell was
critical to business success.
"I thought what better job to learn how to
sell than selling insurance because it is one
of the most difficult jobs to succeed in."
Of the industry though, Dean said, "I think
insurance liked me, but I didn t like it."
While it was closer to self employment
than any area Dean had worked in before, he
found himself putting in a lot of work, without
being sure of a reward.
"I was doing so many financial plans for
people, because this was part of my approach
as an insurance salesman. Many times, it
didn t result in a sale. That s when I realised
I needed to make a transition and start charg-
ing for my time. And that s when I left my
job in the insurance industry."
There were naysayers.
"My manager said to me, boy that not
going to work, nobody going to pay for advice .
Eventually, he lost his job, but I still have
mine," said Dean.
He said his decision to set up a consultancy
had much to do with the failed business exper-
iments of his youth.
"If you have to get into business, get into
business based on a talent that you have,
because they can take your money away from
you, but never your talent, your knowledge
or your education."
"I asked myself, what do I know that people
can t take away from me? At that time I had
13 years experience in banking and insur-
After starting a second course in financial
planning, the Certificate for Financial Advisors
programme run by the Institute of Banking
and Finance, Dean struck out on his own.
In 2004, Dean s first office space was given
to him by a client in exchange for his expert-
"In my first six months, I made $150. I was
in so much debt. My credit cards were maxed
out. Imagine I am giving financial advice and
I have credit card problems. I couldn t keep
up with any of my insurances, so all that
lapsed. I actually started my business with
an overdraft. The amount of my overdraft
He credits a girlfriend with being his main
source support at this time. She was the one
who helped him pay bills and encouraged him
to continue with his financial coaching. Even-
tually word got around about his services.
Reading in yet another book that a newslet-
ter would be one of the best ways to get word
about his services out, Dean started writing.
But he also continued reading, sometimes
going through several business books a month
as well as the financial news.
"I read every Business Guardian column
for a year. I read every Newsday column, every
Express column for a year. So much so that
they were piled up under my bed," joked Dean.
"What started happening was that I realised
that I could predict what people were going
to write about. I realise that was a major part
of my education in terms of becoming an
advisor because I understood more about
business and about money. Even today, I usu-
ally tell anybody read the business section of
a newspaper for an entire year and you will
get an education that you will not get any-
However, while providing solutions for other
people s money problems, Dean still had many
of his own. He said, altogether, it took five
years for him to pay off his own debt, employ-
ing many of the same strategies he now advis-
es readers to use.
"I started my business in 2004 and around
the end of 2005, I paid off my two credit
cards. After that, as I began to get out of debt,
I started to have money to save. For the next
three years, I was just saving money like a
mad man. I started cooking, I stopped liming,
I stopped drinking. I stopped buying clothes.
I was being efficient with how I spent my
money. It took me three years to start to build
a nice bank account."
Dean said the fact that he survived these
first five years, including a particularly dry
spell after 2008 s global financial crash, con-
vinced him that he deserved to be in business.
Meanwhile, other opportunities kept coming.
He caught the attention of the Catholic News
after doing some work with a church and
started writing for them.
Explaining his writing style, Dean said he
tried to write so that even a nine year old
could understand, "People think finance is
an intimidating subject matter. I needed to
write it in such a way that it would appeal
to people who did not have an education in
finance.That actually became a hallmark for
me. Trying to write simply. Because finance
is something that people are afraid of."
Lessons taken away
Dean said his own experiences and practice
as a financial consultant has shown him there
are some immutable truths in personal finance.
"You cannot spend your way to wealth.
People spend too much. If you control your
spending, you now have the most fundamental
secret of wealth creation." said Dean.
He also said anyone hoping to improve their
financial situation had to increase their capac-
ity to earn, ideally, by working in a field they
loved. Buying real estate was the third leg of
the stool" of his financial philosophy.
"Get yourself to a place where you can buy
a property. Or properties. Because real estate
is a way to store your wealth."
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