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Matrix Capitals’ Annual Rowton Brewery Trip

On Saturday 11th June 2016, Matrix Capital took a small group of clients and professional connections David, rob, Graham and Jimon a trip to Rowton Brewery, a quaint local microbrewery built in a converted Victorian cattle shed on a family farm based in the village of Rowton near Telford.

This small brewery has a reputation for big flavour when it comes to their home brewed ales. Jim Preston and his son Steve kindly offered us a day in the Brewery with two barrels of their famous Ale on tap for the group to sample.

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“Money men are taking their advice to the extremes”

Financial experts from a Shropshire firm will be – quite literally – stretched to the limit this month when it comes to advising the latest Premium Bonds millionaires.Matrix-group-photo2

The team from Matrix Capital, near Bridgnorth, are the chartered financial planners chosen by NS&I to give specialist support to their monthly winners. And April’s winners – who are both women who received the news today – are at opposite ends of the UK, with one in Fife in Scotland and the other in Devon.

So Gary Matthews and Robin Melley are today on their way to the very furthest extremes of the country to offer advice to the newest million pound winners.

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Robin’s been up the Varzuga again!

Stiff joints, aching muscles and all the symptoms of sleep deprivation but it was all worth it.

This is the second time that I’ve been with a group of friends on a trip to the Kola Peninsula inside the Arctic Circle, Russia in pursuit of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

The journey started at Manchester Airport, with a flight to Helsinki. I worked remotely over the internet on a client file on the server back at the office all afternoon from the hotel room – honest!

Early on Saturday morning, we caught a flight to Murmansk and then a 2 hours helicopter flight across the Kola Peninsula to the River Varzuga, which is literally in the middle of nowhere.

The Russian’s have a far more relaxed view of health and safety, which you will see from the photograph of the bit of twisted wire and string that was securing the doors of the helicopter – you might also note the flat tyre on the helicopter.

Anyway, all a bit scary but added to the adventure.

There were a group of 8 fishing, which included a dentist, an orthopedic surgeon, an orthodontist, a retired economic adviser to the EU, a marine biologist, a retired printer and a retired quarry owner and me.

At the end of each day’s fishing, we met up to enjoy a shot of vodka and fresh gravadlax before we all sat down to dinner. So, as you can image, the conversations were as varied as they were interesting.

The temperature ranged from -5 to +5 Celsius, with the week we were there being the first week that the river wasn’t frozen.

It gets so cold in the winter that the river is frozen solid leaving only about 6 inches at the riverbed flowing. This is a great advantage to the local villagers because it means that they can more easily get goods in and out of the area by using the river as a vehicle highway; with trucks being able to drive up and down the river.

In the summer, it takes 10 hours to reach Murmansk using roads that are mostly dirt tracks across the tundra – or by helicopter, which is usually prohibitive from a cost point of view.

Someone (a golfer!) once said that he couldn’t understand why I was so passionate about fly-fishing and that it seemed such a waste of time.

I thought about that conversation when I was stood in the middle of the Varzuga amongst the wild and rugged splendor around me, with a 10lb salmon on the end of my line, feeling the sun on my back, watching a skein of geese overhead and looking forward to a convivial evening amongst friends around the log fire in the evening – what’s to not like about that?

Hope you enjoy the photos.

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Wanting Vs. Needing

Dan Sullivan always inspires thought at his 10x Strategic Coach workshops, and this one was no different!

Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests that people seek to satisfy their needs in an order – by first of all meeting their ‘Physiological’ requirements such as food, water and sleep; and then move onto ‘Safety’, ‘Belonging’, ‘Esteem’ and finally ‘Self-actualisation’.

In other words, we are where we are (i.e. we are ‘here’) and striving to achieve something else (i.e. trying to get ‘there’). The motivation for this comes from the external. However, Dan suggested that we are all ‘there’ already. In other words, we have all by and large satisfied our needs and can now focus on what we want.

The motivation for what we want comes from within; it’s an internal motivation instead of an external motivation.

The thought then moves onto the question of, “what do I want?”

The answer is that we want FREEDOM – and according to Dan, there are four freedoms:

  • Freedom of TIME
  • Freedom of MONEY
  • Freedom of RELATIONSHIPS
  • Freedom of PURPOSE

If you accept that you are already ‘there’ then instead of striving for something, your focus becomes expanding the fours freedoms. Happiness is not conditional upon attaining something; it is a state that you adopt.

The things that I learned about creating a bigger future are:

  1. Always make your ambition larger than your current capability – continually push the boundaries and you’ll learn new skills and create the capability necessary to realise your ambitions.
  2. Focus on the future – make a decision that your future is always going to be more important to you than your past.
  3. Always seek to make a contribution – pay attention to the value that you’re creating for others by the contribution you make and attach less importance to the rewards.
  4. Always be learning – be open to new knowledge, new skills and new habits.
  5. Outperform yourself – future based people know that past achievements are there to be surpassed and not dwelled upon for too long.
  6. Be increasingly grateful – unlike those that become arrogant about their successes, people with an ever-expanding future are always grateful for progress. It’s almost as if you don’t deserve more until you’re grateful for what you’ve already got!
  7. Increasingly enjoy yourself – this is the fuel for growth.
  8. Confidence always grows – seek out new risks and challenges. Overcome and grow in confidence, it’s a decision.
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10 Highlights of the first 10 years – the journey so far

Matrix Capital Limited was incorporated on 5th November 2004, so it has almost been 10 years since we started our journey – a time to celebrate and look back on some of the highlights.

Team image 2

1. FSA Authorisation

I suppose the journey started in earnest when we were granted direct authorisation by the Financial Services Authority, which carried the regulatory permissions for us to operate as a firm of ‘Independent Financial Advisers’.

Whilst this placed greater responsibility upon us, it gave us the freedom to provide our clients with what they required, which was independent advice and wider access to the marketplace.

2. The move to Shropshire

We had previously operated the business from The Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. However, the opportunity arose to move to our rural location at Little Hudwick.

3. Gary joins the board

I was absolutely delighted when Gary Matthews became a shareholding director because it created a symbiotic business partnership. We have different skills and natural abilities that mesh together perfectly.

4. The Financial Empowerment Programme

We recognised that what we had been doing as a business had to a large extent been driven by what we thought the regulator expected of us; and whilst that is not a bad thing, we decided to go back to basics and ask our clients what they expected of us.

That was a real “eye-opener” which resulted in us developing a financial planning process that is entirely fit for purpose and unique in the market-place.

5. Transparency

For the first few years, we had operated like the majority of our competitor firms in that we were remunerated by way of commissions paid by product providers.

It emerged from our discussions with clients and professional connections that there was a need for change. So, we re-engineered our business and migrated to a transparent “fee-only” model.

This was one of the best decisions we took and placed us head and shoulders above the competition – it provided utter transparency and enabled clients to make clear value judgments.

6. Website launched

This was a large investment at the time but we realised that not having a presence on the Internet was hampering progress.

We have come a long way with our website and, latterly, the use of social media.

7. Chartered status

This took a great deal of effort and commitment and represented a major milestone for us as a business. It placed us amongst the elite in terms of professional financial planning and advice.

There are still only about 600 firms in the UK to have achieved this.

8. Fellowship

It was one of our proudest moments to see the two working directors, Robin Melley and Gary Matthews, receive their Fellowships of the Personal Finance Society (FPFS) at the headquarters of our professional body.

9. Chartered Financial Planner of the Year

After getting into the finals in 2011 and 2012, Robin was crowned Chartered Financial Planner of the Year in 2013.

This demonstrated that the business provided the highest standards in terms of advice and service.

10. National Savings & Investments (NS&I)

Being selected by NS&I to advise the £1m Premium Bond Jackpot winners is a huge privilege for us.

Having gone though a tough three national stage tendering process, we were awarded the contract in April 2014.

The next part of the journey…

Whilst is hasn’t all been plain sailing, the first 10 years have been very exciting and we have made massive strides in terms of innovation, client service and professionalism.

That said, I feel like we have just started!

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Entrepreneurs – where would we be without them?

I’ve always admired entrepreneurs because they have the courage to go for their dreams and are willing to take risks. They also seem to have the ability to face endless challenges and find innovative ways of solving problems – they march to the beat of a different drummer.

Abraham Zaleznik, a Harvard Business School professor, once said, “I think if we want to understand the entrepreneur, we should look at the juvenile delinquent”.

Jean-Baptiste Say, the French economist, was the first person to come up with the term “entrepreneur” and said, “The entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”

Many of our clients are entrepreneurs but, oddly, none of them would call themselves an entrepreneur – it’s almost one of those labels that people apply to others but not to themselves.

I can think of a number of clients that I admire as entrepreneurial; they come from all walks of life. Some are formally educated and others dropped out of school without passing a single exam.

Some plan everything out and focus on planning every detail before taking action; others see an idea and then follow their gut instinct and live on their wits.

They’ve all failed and then picked themselves up, learned from their mistakes and started afresh.

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Book: “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington

My wife persuaded me to take a holiday where we just relax in the sun for 10 days. Also, we didn’t have a honeymoon when we got married on 19th July 2006 – so this was a chance to put that right.

I’m not very good at doing nothing, so I purchased “Thrive” by Arianna Huffington to read whilst I was lying beside the pool – a book recommended to me by Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach®.

This was one of those rare serendipity moments for me.

I have no intentions of reviewing the book; I just wanted to highlight some of the things that struck me as important and that would be of interest to some of our clients who are busy building successful businesses and careers.

Money and power have unfortunately become synonymous with “success” but Arianna Huffington very elegantly points out that there is a Third Metric, which has four vital ingredients that really resonated with me:


“Nothing succeeds like excess” is what we are told – working longer hours, constantly chasing deadlines, missing out on sleep, remaining connected to the digital world 24/7 and multitasking to get more done in less time.

Does that sound familiar to you

The book talks about making sure that you are in the best physical, emotional, mental and spiritual condition to ensure peak performance.

The thing that hit me was how important proper sleep is. Stanford University in California did a study on the effects of sleep (or the lack of) on the performance of athletes; and they discovered that 8-10 hours of quality sleep every night produced better performance. One of the reasons is that sleep helps the human body to produce the Human Growth Hormone (HGH) legally!

Bill Clinton said that he made the worst decisions as a result of sleep deprivation; I presume that he was referring to Monica Lewinsky when he made that statement!

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Last Thursday, I was in Toronto attending one of Dan Sullivan’s “You x10” quarterly workshops.

We covered a lot of ground in a day and I came away with a whole host of ideas and concepts to implement during the next 90 days.

One of the real benefits of Dan’s workshops is the conversation that sparks in the room on topics that don’t normally get discussed at typical business workshops and meetings.

I was fascinated with the discussion that took place in the workshop on courage and confidence; and thought I’d share it with you…

People say that they could achieve more if they had the confidence to do it. However, confidence is created by courage.

If you have chosen a bigger future for yourself, you will have immediately created uncertainty about your future – you won’t know exactly what is going to happen and the pay off is not guaranteed.

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Proud To Be Supporting Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer

Veronica Kumeta, Co-Founder & Chairman of Trustee's

Veronica Kumeta, Co-Founder & Chairman of Trustee’s

Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer (LFBC) is a voluntary group of ladies who donate their time and services to raise funds and awareness of Breast Cancer in the West Midlands.

We first came across LFBC at the Lord Digby Jones event, ‘Doing it in a different way’, earlier this year. Digby is the Honorary Patron of the charity.

At the event, they talked a bit about what they had been doing, what they plan to do and just how important it is that we support this cause.

Every penny they raise in fact stays in the Midlands and, believing that it is essential to have a centre of excellence, they have supported the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Breast Cancer Centre for the last 13 years.

We were so impressed with the energy and enthusiasm behind the charity, with ambitions to bring the most advanced cancer treatments to Birmingham, we knew we must get involved and encourage your support too…

How common is Breast Cancer?

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Abundance is about accessing what’s already there…

A local goldsmith presented the Roman Emperor Tiberius (14 to 37 AD) with a dinner plate, made from an unusual shiny metal – as shiny as silver but much lighter.

He claimed to have extracted the new metal from clay, using a method known only to him and the gods.

Emperor Tiberius had amassed a fortune in gold and silver and was concerned that the value of his treasure would diminish when people had access to this new shiny metal that was rarer than gold.  So, the Emperor ordered the goldsmith to be beheaded!

treasure chest

That execution killed the production of aluminium from bauxite until Christian Oersted and Frederick Wohler  discovered a process of extracting aluminium from bauxite between 1825 and 1845 .

Then in 1854, Henri Sainte-Claire Deville created the first commercial process for the production of aluminium, causing the world price to drop by 90% virtually overnight.

The reality is that aluminium is the third most abundant metal on the planet, making up 8.3% of the weight of the World.

The point of the story is that abundance already exists; it is a matter of accessing something that already lies at our feet, rather than creating something that doesn’t already exist!

Last Thursday, I attended Dan Sullivan’s “You x10” workshop at The Strategic Coach® in Toronto, where this issue of abundance was discussed.

Dan articulated his “Abundance Spiral”, which really caused the penny to drop for me that “Abundance” is access by following a system; and the system starts with being grateful for what we have already.

So, these are the steps in the system according to Dan:

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