Profile: TV advisor Emmanuel Asuquo on connecting with low-income communities through financial literacy

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You live in a council estate in East London and look out at the iconic Canary Wharf Tower from your bedroom window. Its pyramid roof shines like gold when the sun hits it, and you imagine how old enough to work there, to live the dream – to drive a nice car, wear decent clothes and live in a house, that one is proud of.

The juxtaposition between the tower – a gigantic symbol of corporate wealth – and your local money-tight community is ironic. They are in the same district and yet worlds apart. Is it even possible to switch from one to the other?

Financial advisor Emmanuel Asuquo is proof that it is possible, albeit unconventional.

Asuquo – an East End boy of Nigerian descent – has made a name for himself as a financial expert among people who don’t seek financial advice, and his background certainly helps him identify with this audience.

As a teenager, Asuquo didn’t know anyone who worked as a consultant or used his services. He was simply in awe of Canary Wharf and was tempted by the affluent lifestyle it represented.

“When I was growing up, nobody in our kitchen could leave the light on because it cost money. If so, someone would yell, “Who left the lights on?” But at night when I looked out my window on Canary Wharf, all the lights were on. So I figured there has to be money over there – if I want to change my life, I have to go where you can leave the lights on and not get in trouble, ”he says.

Consultants across the country with similar backgrounds may find themselves drawn to a career in financial services, as Asuquo was originally, for materialistic reasons. He started his career in banking, but when he switched to consulting, he felt unable to be himself because he was “different” from those around him.

“When I started in financial consulting at the age of 22, I was the only black person on my team. There were only five of us across the country and most of them worked in black areas like Brixton and Birmingham, ”he says.

“I was the only one in town who worked with wealthy people and I always put on a voice – my ‘Made in Chelsea’ voice – because it made me feel like it would not accept my way of speaking.” . “

Being black, having a London accent and being from a council estate was not the norm and it’s not pleasant to hear that “people don’t like you” and “don’t want to work with you” in a particular branch. Asuquo eventually dropped the posh accent, however, and realized he didn’t have to pretend he was anyone as customers warm to his down-to-earth personality.

“I don’t see it as a race, I was just different. People had never seen someone like me in the role, ”he says. Ironically, his way of speaking is one of the things that makes him popular with television audiences, and he has heard former colleagues who disapproved of his presence in certain industries now proudly tell everyone that they used to work with him.

After working with many high net worth clients, Asuquo realized that the financial literacy he had acquired was an asset that he could bring to his local community and explain in a way they understood in order to improve their lives. This realization led to the founding of his financial education company The Eman Effect in 2016.

“I could focus on celebrities and soccer players as they are always in touch, but I want to focus on low-income people who are in trouble and want to get better. Many people who are from where I come from identify things – possessions – with value. They spend on clothes, cars, and restaurants, but that keeps them where they are. The Eman Effect is about breaking that cycle and allowing people to begin their financial journey, for example when they have £ 100 a month to invest, even if they are in debt. “

The Eman Effect came into being after Asuquo was fired for the third time in his career. But he admits that his plans were not taken seriously by everyone around him. “A lot of people laughed at me and said, ‘Are you going to teach poor people financial advice? How do you want to make money? ‘”He says.

The company offers a range of services from £ 100 including a 30-minute phone call, a six-month mentoring course and a personal financial exam. It also has events and seminars that cost £ 20 to £ 30 per ticket and can be booked by other organizations such as universities and charities to bring financial literacy to the community.

Initially, Asuquo had naively assumed that posting personal financial information online through his Instagram account would generate some interest that would translate into paying stores, but it didn’t.

“People weren’t interested. I posted ‘This is a pension’ and nobody cared about it, ”he says. “I realized that people don’t go on social media to be educated like they are in school, it’s a slowdown.”

Then he tried a mix of financial advice and entertainment, and that worked. His content became humorous and relatable, focusing on everyday scenarios and the financial mistakes people often make. More people started sharing the content, so he grew the platform online.

“I look at things that people might do that might not be applied to the right thing – like vacation pay to take your girlfriend to the expensive Hakkasan restaurant. People laugh about it, but get the message that maybe that’s not what they should be doing, ”says Asuquo.

Asuquo believes nothing is as good as regulated financial advice, but when it was in the market the minimum fees of £ 2,000 to £ 3,000 were higher than for people who had only saved £ 1,000 or just wanted to top up £ 100 or 200 their pension. He sees a need for financial education, financial coaching and robo-advice platforms to fill the void in an affordable way, but has concerns that people without financial qualifications will establish themselves as experts on social media.

“All they do is share what works for them, but to use a health analogy, we might have similar symptoms and the doctor will prescribe different medications because our circumstances are different,” he says. Just because one person says they have done well with property or cryptocurrencies doesn’t mean that another should invest as well, as they could end up in a worse position.

“I don’t want to beat up coaches because there are some great people out there who are sharing their knowledge and experience at affordable prices,” he says. “But sometimes coaches exceed the goal. Low income people want to buy their first home so someone can tell them a portfolio can make money.

“They say, ‘Pay me £ 2,000 and I can help you buy your first property’. They could use up all of their money, take out a loan and use a credit card to get this “advice” and it will be taken advantage of. “

For Asuquo, the next step is to find another financial literacy platform besides Instagram, and he plans to do some podcasts. He’s also writing a book to help consumers manage their finances and preparing to film a new show for Channel 4 called Secret Spenders.

“The television work is very interesting, but it takes a long time – you say the same thing six or seven times and do it from different camera angles, which can be quite a chore,” he says. “But I love the effect. I get emails from people, especially boys in harsh areas, who tell me that I am their inspiration. You have never seen anyone who talks like me and is considered an expert. “

A young guy who emailed Asuquo said he liked science and, having seen Asuquo as a financial expert, would like to appear on TV as a science expert. “When you see someone doing it, you can believe it. Any young person can look at me and say that it is possible, ”says Asuquo.

“I would encourage any young person who is considering seeking advice to do so. There is no better job than a financial advisor. You can contact me if you want to start. “

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