Meet Jerran Whyte

Elaine Bowes (EB) interviews Jerran Whyte (JW)

EB: Tell us about your background and what led you to found the Belvedere Group.

JW: Actually, my father is a pastor - yes, I’m a PK (Pastors Kid). Dad came to Christ when he was 18. He eventually started a church in Slough. I am one of 4 and we all had a part to play in church. I played the drums and one of my brothers played the piano. It was a family church, not big but ‘old school’ Pentecostal where you could hear the music and singing from a mile away.
I’ve always been in church and that was really the beginning of my financial foundations. My parents always instilled in us that as Christians we should be good stewards of our money. The Bible teaches this. The mindset that our parents instilled in us was church and education.

EB: Tell us about your route to founding the Belvedere Group.

JW: I fell into finance. I didn’t go looking to be in finance - I’ve always been in sales, and the opportunity came for me to live and work in Germany - on a commission only basis and it was tough. There were times when I didn’t eat - I’d buy a loaf of bread and I had toast - toast and egg sometimes. But it built in me a resilience and taught me two important lessons - 1 if you want something you have to work for it and 2 - hard work, hard work and hard work. Those were the foundations of what I learnt from Germany. Although it was tough it was an adventure.

I spent five years in Germany, and 2.5 years in Spain, before I came back to the UK. By this time I had built up an international client base - I had clients all over Europe and outside. The great part was getting on a plane, to The Canary Islands, to Portugal, Milan and Paris. Our clients were high net and ultra-high net worth individuals. But my father kept challenging me and asking me what was I doing with my life and the skills and blessings that God had given me. He challenged me on that for years.

But honestly, I didn’t find my calling until 2015. That was when I found my purpose. I don’t want to be one those guys that makes a lot of money but makes no mark on the world. What legacy am I leaving, what am I doing for my community, what am I doing for the people around me? By 2015 I had worked in this industry for about 5/6 years. It was then that I knew that this was what I want to do forever. This for me is one of the best career in the world, genuinely helping people to achieve their goals and aspirations - changing lives.

When I came back to the UK after 7+ years away, it was unrecognisable to me. The gang violence in our communities, the demise of the Saturday School tradition -because of lack of funds. And I asked myself, why should there be lack of funding in our community? Oher communities have resources and their own institutions, and we don’t. So from an economic perspective it seemed to me to be about lack of access to money. The cap in hand approach to handouts don’t help our community. It really hit me - looking ‘outside in’ the things that we value as success is not considered success in other communities. These were subtle signs so for me Belvedere was born out of my father’s push to help his son find his purpose in life. My god given purpose.

I set up Belvedere International in 2017. I came back to the UK to build up the credibility of Belvedere UK. I realised that if I’m going to do this properly, we need to own our own. I had experienced racism - subtle and direct - and I knew we had to own our own.

EB: Wealth creation, pensions and long-term wealth management generally is not a tradition that flourishes in our communities - why do you think that is?

JW: It’s about education. We do what our parents told us to do - what they did. They did what they needed to do at that time, but times have changed. They bought property cheaply and its worth twenty times as much now, but that pattern is not necessarily going to be the same going forward. In order for us to catch up we need to play the game, we are still playing our parents game which is not the best today for wealth creation.

The three core pillars of wealth creation are land ownership - and there’s a difference between property ownership and land ownership - pensions and protection.
Why protection? Because there are two things guaranteed in life are taxes and death. Insure the latter - it’s going to happen. You guarantee generational wealth by insuring your death. You’re just protecting your family for the inevitable.

Why pensions? pensions are tax free in terms of growth it’s the only vehicle that gives you money for investing in your pension. Properties might yield 5% but your pension will yield 25% without you doing anything. Pensions might not be as sexy as property, you might buy three properties, but they’re not yours while you have a mortgage on them.

Why land ownership? This enables you to build on it, and you can sell the property you build but still own the land. We need to do what makes sense and not what looks good.

EB: There are many people who believe that property can act as a pension. What is your view on that?

JW: Two issues here. There are those that use their main residence as their pensions. They spend twenty years paying off the mortgage and then sell it to fund their retirement. But they’ve spent all those years building it up and then downsize to fund their retirement. But that s a bit awry. You should be able to have your retirement and the property you’ve saved for and invested in.

For those that invest via ‘buy to let‘ and investment properties. I would l say that they are solely reliant on the tax structure being the same as it is today. But the tax structure changes. The government has been chipping away at property ownership over the years. Recent changes mean that you can no longer offset your mortgage against your rental income, and you have to pay tax on it. They have recently reduced the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowance. We now have CGT allowance at £12,300 which we can offset when we sell our properties, this is due to be reduced to £6,000 next year and £3,000 the year after.

Those that sell property are no longer able to reduce those tax bills. The aim of the game is to reduce your tax bill as far as possible. The way to do that is to have multiple assets and multiple streams of income. But if we only have all our pension in property all we have done is kicked the tax bill down the road.

The income from property is now classed as income for tax purposes, which was not the case before. This effectively severely reduces the benefit from property ownership. In terms of generational wealth property is not necessarily the answer - you may be passing on a headache. Third argument with respect to property is passing down your ‘buy to let’ property. When you pass it down its all taxable, it only makes sense if you have the protection in place to pay the CGT bill. The only asset that passes down as tax free is the main residence. The rest you pay 40% tax on and there’s nothing you can do about it. The fourth argument is that you can use property as collateral. But people don’t know that you can use your pension as your own bank. If you borrow from the bank, you pay interest, but in a pension you can borrow your own money from the pension trustees and pay the interest back to yourself, you become the bank. Borrow from yourself and pay the interest back to yourself into your pension tax free. You can do these things with the right type of assets and vehicles available.

EB: What advice would you give to someone who is now mortgage free with a pension that is inadequate. How can they make their money work better for themselves?

JW: The first thing is to be clear on their objectives, what is the clear goal. What do they need to do?. Its called Goal based planning - what do you want in the short, medium and long term. What do you need to live off in your retirement? How much do you want? Then when that’s established work backwards, what do you need to be doing on a daily or monthly basis to achieve that goal.

What vehicle is going to help you to get there. For most people the answer will be pensions. If we want to leave real wealth for the next generation, how are you saving for yourself and the next generation. Thinking long term with respect to future generations will benefit yourself as well. Utilize the right vehicles, and pensions is a great example. For those in government pension schemes - when you die the pension dies with you. This can’t generate generational wealth. And you can’t get your money out of these schemes, which is why you need multiple pots. Generational wealth is about what you pass down and not how much you pass down. You can be hindering not helping if you’re passing the wrong assets down.

EB: Final words Jerran

JW: Its very important to recognise that Belvedere wasn’t created because I wanted to get rich. Belvedere was created so that we can say we own this. Ownership of key Institutions are the pillar of community sustainability - schools banks hospitals etc. and to give young people something else to aspire to. The real wealth is financial education - understanding the best thing to do with your money to make it work for you.

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