His jovial demeanour, self-depreciating humour and post-boxing career in panto and the daytime TV circuit have seen former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world Frank Bruno become a popular figure in the UK for more than just his sporting prowess. But while he has continued to earn a good living from his annual stint in a high profile panto somewhere in the UK, TV and commercial appearances and the occasional public speaking event, Bruno’s earning power certainly peaked along with his boxing career.
After beating Oliver McCall in September 1995 to take the world heavyweight titles he earned just shy of £5 million for his second consecutive defeat in a bout with Mike Tyson, after which he retired. But unlike many former sports stars, Bruno has shown astute money management to make the most of the comfort his first and then second careers have afforded him. Despite enjoying some of the trappings of fame and fortune in his younger years, Bruno was never a dangerously prolific spender, even at the height of his boxing career.
And after the huge pay cheques stopped in the mid-nineties, he continued to work ferociously in the media and entertainment business, maintaining a very good income. Perhaps even more importantly, he has listened to good financial advice, reigned in the spending to sustainably within his current means and diligently saved and invested. Earlier this month the Sunday Time’s ‘Fame and Fortune’ column interviewed Frank on his approach to savings, investing and money management. The picture painted is one of an approach to managing his finances that contains a lot of good advice applicable to almost anyone.
Saving and Spending
Bruno told the column that he would sometimes ‘go out and treat myself’ during his boxing years because he would often not have the time to spend what he earned. That in itself is probably an indication of a good starting point. There are plenty examples of busy individuals earning fortunes who certainly do still manage to find the opportunity to spend it all. But despite the fact it sounds like he was never a crazy spender, Bruno also says he has saved more as he has gotten older.
“Over the years I’ve bought clothes and shoes and all different things, but I don’t need another pair of shoes or another pair of socks or another suit. I’ve got everything I need now”.
Not buying things we don’t ‘need’ sounds simple but is a mindset. And Frank doesn’t give the impression of a miserly existence, admitting to still enjoying to ‘treat’ himself. His weakness, he says, is clothes. But nowadays, instead of paying £2000 for a custom-made suit from Savile Row he will buy direct from producers in Thailand or Hong Kong because that way you can “knock some people out of the chain and get something made for half that money”. He has owned a Spanish property in the past but his second homes today are a caravan on the Kent coast and a tent – “I like a bit of camping”.
Bruno, on the advice of manager Terry Lawless while still a high earning boxer, put a good portion of his income into a “very, very good” pension and ISAs, which he says have done very well. He credits that to the fact he has always had good accountants and advisers and putting away larger lump sums when he earned them, rather than just upping his spending. He told The Sunday Times:
“My trainer George Francis once told me: ‘When you make money, be like a squirrel’.”
Given the bad financial advice many wealthy individuals who have made money as a result of a talent seem to take, Bruno himself probably has to take a lot of credit too. He seems to have had a knack for surrounding himself with solid professionals with his interests at heart.
Looking for financial advice in the right places and choosing wisely who to take it from also stands out as a valuable lesson that can be taken from Bruno:
“I’m quite blessed and grateful for the advice that I’ve been given. I took the advice and it’s worked well so far”.
Frank Bruno seems like he is in a good place financially but rather than sitting back and relaxing he seems more focused on saving than ever before. The key money management lessons I think can be taken from his interview are:
- Save consistently over the years.
- Put more money aside when you are earning more.
- Treat yourself occasionally but keep spending within your means, including savings.
- Look for bargains.
- Consider if you ‘need’ things you are inclined to buy.
- It’s not only expensive things and experiences we can take pleasure in.
- Know where to look for qualified, experienced advice when necessary and choose well who you will take it from.