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Schooled in the ways of finance and teaching kids

MOM always said teaching was a nice thing to do, and now James Jobbins teaches expat clients about investment - and kids about money and how to avoid a financial mess, reports Sam Riley.

For Englishman James Jobbins, learning and education have been part of his life for as long as he can remember.

His parents were both teachers, and despite his father telling him not to go into the profession, he followed their path.

"My mum always said you get holidays as a teacher, you get 13 weeks as a teacher and she encouraged me, 'Teaching is a nice thing to go and do,'" Jobbins says.

"While my dad didn't want me to be a teacher, he was teaching all the time at home. He was a natural educator and he was great to listen to. He wanted everyone to enjoy everything as much as he did, like music, art, literature and math."

Jobbins spent much of his early career in Britain in education, and although he has moved into the world of business in his new life in Shanghai, he still pursues his interest in teaching.

The senior consultant at deVere and Partners recently started an education program, delivering his first talk at the Yew Chung International School in Pudong.

Speaking to the school's assembly, he discussed the current financial crisis and delivered an overview of the history of famous market crises.

The education system does not focus on financial education and understanding of markets and personal investment, says Jobbins, but they are essential to an adult's life.

"The interest from my point of view is in helping more and more people to see bubbles as just that: so much vacuity, without substance," he says.

"And then, maybe, in some modest way, to help the next generation's financiers, business people and politicians to avoid the sorts of problems that come with markets being driven by fear and greed."

During his six months in Shanghai, Jobbins has delivered talks and seminars, including a BritCham personal finance workshop, which he says are aimed at "promoting the values of long-term prudence and good housekeeping."

Jobbins studied mathematics at Oxford, but went on to teach politics, economics and history.

"Going through teacher training and becoming a teacher were some of the biggest learning experiences of my life," he says.

"It's said a teacher has 80 human interactions before 9am," Jobbins says, and must learn kids' names and the personalities and characters behind those names.

"Learning to teach, I had to be very introspective with my own learning and how willing you are to learn."

The skills learned in the classroom have come in handy in his new role as an investment broker, providing investment products and advising expats on personal finance.

"When I went for the interview at deVere, they looked at my CV and said, 'What on earth is a teacher doing applying for what is in essence a sales position?'

"But when I go into a classroom I have about 10 to 20 seconds to sell myself, and you live or die on that. You either command their respect or you don't."

Jobbins taught high school students, then helped schools integrate their IT programs, training teachers in computing skills and how to use new software.

His job was also commercial: He ran a team of trainers to roll out programs in schools, complete IT audits and sell software upgrades.

During that time he became interested in advising and sales as a career.

With deVere, he is an independent investment adviser providing information on international investment vehicles for expats.

He uses his teaching skills to provide useful information to people who may have never made long-term financial plans for retirement.

"I discovered that what I really needed was not in a classroom teaching, but face-to-face interaction with people on a daily basis," he says.

"So I find it fascinating working with clients, working with other people to help them to grow and achieve what they want for themselves."

James Jobbins

Nationality: British

Age: 29

Profession: International independent financial adviser


Description of self:

Creative, compassionate, focused.

Favorite place in Shanghai:

Walking on the Bund on a Saturday night with the sky full of hot-air lanterns.

Strangest thing seen in Shanghai:

A monkey on a string.

Worst experience in Shanghai:

One morning last October it rained so much so suddenly that I found myself wading across Nanjing Road W. in my business suit - and spending the rest of the day feeling decidedly damp.

Motto for life:

Only I can do what I can do today.

Things that could improve Shanghai:

Central heating and proper gas ovens as standard. A fleet of Hackney Cabs, with drivers who check their mirrors before changing lanes. Improved drainage for those flash floods.

Advice to newcomers:

Get a travel card. Then learn to use the Metro before you become dependent on taxis or your driver. The Metro is usually quicker for journeys longer than two or three stops, so it's handy to be familiar if the traffic's stationary and you're going from one side of the city to the other. And you can use your travel card in the taxis too - great if you've forgotten to go to the cash machine.


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