You started your career in Tokyo, what did you learn from your time in Japan?
Reasonable Japanese – most of which I have now forgotten. The basics of how markets work (I was a stock broker) – and how long a crash can last!
Did you need to speak Japanese whilst working at Warburgs in Japan, how important is it to have a good grip of the culture and language for anyone thinking of working out there?
It wasn’t necessary but it was certainly helpful – less for work itself perhaps (most of my clients were English speakers) that for just getting around. Japan is much easier to navigate for non Japanese speakers these days (more signs in English and so on) but I suspect that a grasp of the language has become more rather than less important in a work context.
You wrote a book called ‘Love Is Not Enough’, in 2008, are the themes still relevant for today’s women?
Yes very much so. Some of that book does seem a bit dated but the core points in it stand. Women end up earning and saving less over a working life than men (on average) for obvious reasons (children and caring) so we need to focus on financing our futures from as early on as possible.
Are you planning on writing any more books in the near future?
I’m writing one at the moment – watch this space!
MoneyWeek is one of the top selling magazines in the UK, I think it’s safe to say your leadership at the publication has guided it to be so, how does working in publishing differ from your previous work in financial services?
That’s very kind – but we have a spectacular editorial team at Moneyweek with John Stepek and Andrew Van Sickle in the hot seats so it is very much a group effort. Magazine publishing and stock broking might seem like very different businesses. But the truth is that at the core they are rather similar – we are all telling stories to a deadline.
Did you have any business or finance role models whilst growing up?
No. No one in my family has ever been much interested – but they are very glad that I am!
Would you recommend young people these days get trained in finance or work toward another aspiration?
Understanding how money works is vital whatever career you choose. Everyone should grasp the basics of the UK tax, saving and investing infrastructure. And everyone should understand a bit about markets – after all pretty much every one in the UK in work is a shareholder thanks to being auto enrolled into a pension. Given that it is this that will finance most of our retirements its best to understand how it works and to actively engage with it!
Describe a typical day at MoneyWeek.
There isn’t one. I do podcasts, video interviews, columns and endless Zoom calls against a background of fighting through the tens of thousands of emails in my various in boxes and trying to keep myself off Twitter (@merrynsw for those who know I tend to fail on that…). Luckily I love it – and the huge upside to a job such as mine is the ability one way or another to talk to interesting people every day. It is never dull.
What do you get up to in your spare time?
I am lucky to live in a city with easy access to the coast and country side so when not working or ferrying my children around the place I am a keen paddle boarder, walker and sea swimmer.
Are you a fan of fashion? If so, who is your favourite clothes designer and why?
I am. But there is only one answer for me to this question. My sister Tabitha Webb is a designer and you will mostly see me wearing shirts and dresses I have nicked from her sample cupboard.
Do you have a favourite restaurant?
My long term favourite is a small Japanese restaurant just off Tottenham Court Road called Kikuchi. Fabulous izakaya food – and the place I like to go with friends from my days in Tokyo.