On August 11, 2020, you appeared on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ show with Eamonn and Ruth Holmes answering the nation’s questions about their finances. How did this opportunity come about?
This is a funny story. One day one of my followers sent me a link on email saying, “Are you going to apply for this job?”. I open up the link, and it says that Martin Lewis is stepping down from ITV’s ‘This Morning’ because he’s started his television show. I immediately forwarded it on to my agent.
She knows the people at This Morning, and so she said, “I’ll send them an email and see what they say”. From that point, it all happened so quickly. Within a week, they had called me to speak to me – I talked to them – and then the following week, I was on live television!
As you’ve just mentioned, ‘This Morning’ is a live show, and all your responses to the viewers’ questions were in real-time. How did this compare to your time on Channel 4’s ‘Save Well Spend Better’, which is a pre-recorded show?
It was nerve-wracking because obviously, you don’t know who the caller is going to be or what exactly what they’re going to say. Whatever question comes your way, you can’t take five minutes to think about it, because that’d be
The other thing was, I was talking to Eamonn and Ruth! I was like, “This is like, my childhood right here!”. I had to let go of the nerves and the imposter syndrome. I had to let go of questions like, “Do you deserve to be here?”, and instead tell myself, “You deserve to be here”. The thing that helped me was reminding myself that it’s not about me. I was called onto the show to help people.
That’s what got me through. In the end, I was all smiles, big teeth all over the place, because that’s me doing what I love—talking to people, helping people.
What’s your perspective on the difference between financial guidance and financial advice? Do we need to see more qualified financial advisors, like yourself, on a show like ‘This Morning’?
One thing I’ve realised is that you don’t necessarily need to be a financial advisor to know your stuff. There are people that I see all the time, even on Instagram that give great information and give great tips, but they’re not qualified, financial advisors.
Even Martin Lewis, who does typically ‘This Morning’, is not a financial adviser, but a lot of the stuff he talks about relates to consumer rights and consumer issues. He’s practically giving people the ‘guidance’ they need so that they can go and make their own decisions.
If I’m giving you advice, I’ve got to know your whole situation. However, with financial guidance, you’re providing the general information that people need when it comes to consumer issues. This could be on the topic of flight delay compensation or getting refunds etc.
I think what Martin does is invaluable. Many financial advisers are merely trying to find a few clients with a lot of money and live a comfortable life off of that. Martin is trying to help the entire country – and that’s why I admire him so much.
After your appearance, some people who were expecting to see Martin on your ‘This Morning’ slot took to Twitter to express their disappointment. How did you feel when that happened?
Yeah, people were disappointed, and I understood, I understood. Martin’s been on the show for 15 years, so I get it. But sometimes in life, you’ve got to give someone a chance. At the end of the day, I’m just a family man trying to earn a living doing what I love, and trying to help others.
If people didn’t feel like I was as good as Martin Lewis, I’m not saying I am. I am only one day into the job – he’s been doing it for 15 years. I don’t think it’s even fair to compare us.
You know, as human beings, we are creatures of habit, and we do get used to seeing the same faces over and over again. And let’s be honest, there is a minority who, when they see a white person being replaced by a black person they are not going to be too happy with that. There were plenty of tweets implying this.
But – change is happening! If I’ve got to take these complaints, then that’s fine, because I know there were young black men, young black women, all over the UK that were thinking, “Wow, this is possible. If Eman did it, I can do it”.
So for me, any abuse or hate I get, I can take it because I understand the importance of representation.
That is hugely inspirational! What does the future hold for you? And what do you think is next to come for financial advice/guidance in the UK?
We can expect to see more things happening on social media. I think fewer people are watching TV. TV shows are getting more and more expensive to create, and companies are becoming increasingly careful about how they spend their advertising budgets.
On television, you can advertise to a million random people. However, on social media, you can find an influencer who’s got anywhere from 1,000-10,000 followers for a specific topic and is more likely to resonate with their audience.
So social media’s the direction I see things going in, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, with advertising targeted much more at individuals, through influencers, and less and less on television
Does that mean we won’t be seeing The Eman Effect on TV again?
I’ve already got TV stuff lined up with other channels. You’ll definitely be seeing me on your screens again. I’m also planning tours, and I’ve got university talks that I’ll be doing. Ultimately, I’m not limited to just the television, whenever the TV comes, it comes, but it has opened so many doors.
If you think about the people who are in charge of companies, universities, and corporates, they’re still from a TV generation. As younger people start to step up into these senior roles, I see things moving more towards social media and influencers and so forth.
Now that I’ve been on TV, yes, there’s a certain respect level I get, and people are ready to spend budget on me because I have been on television – but those decision-makers grew up watching their favourite celebrities on the television.
Now, there’s a new generation who are growing up with influencers and social media, who will soon step into their shoes. And that’s when the shift will come.
It’s been great hearing about your time on the show, the things you’ve had to say about the future of the industry, and on the importance of representation. Any closing remarks?
The biggest thing I want to share with people is you shouldn’t ever allow yourself to give up, or allow the situation that you’re in today determine where you’re going to be in the future. You can be in one place today and a totally different place tomorrow. So focus on your goals, focus on your dreams, and keep going. I’m living proof that if you want more from your life, you can achieve it. But you have to have a plan, believe in yourself, work hard, be consistent and have the discipline to keep going when it gets hard.
It’s always impossible until somebody does it. And someone always does.