Talent talk: Andy Davis, freelance financial journalist

Unsure of his next move after university, Andy Davis found himself drawn to journalism and embarked on a career that would take him from local press to the Financial Times, and beyond to an influential freelance career

What made you become a journalist?
The answer to that question goes back a long way. Like a lot of people, I was at university in my final year and wondering what to do. Journalism seemed unpredictable, and a fun and interesting way of meeting people. I wasn’t sure exactly what skills I’d need to develop, but was sure I would pick up some along the way.

So did you have a plan?
No. I kind of blundered my way into journalism with no clear plan, but I guess like a lot of things in life, it turned out best that way. I started in the local press for five years, which was really valuable. Back then it wasn’t the tough world it is now – local papers were in far better financial health.

What interests you?
I write about business, finance and investment, and I try to show that in many areas of your own finances you can do it yourself, whether that’s investing for the future or applying for your own mortgage. It’s also something I do in my own life, so it’s a subject that’s close to my heart. It’s good to have a specialism when you freelance because it’s tough to be a generalist.

What have been the high points?
I’d have to say my most important appointment was becoming editor of FT Weekend in 2007 – I’d joined the paper in 1995 and worked my way up from the subs desk. In 2008 the paper won three Newspaper of the Year awards. We had recently redesigned the paper, which was a process I led as Development Editor, working alongside a very high-powered group of colleagues.

How have you found the freelance life?
I’ve been freelance for three and a half years now, and it’s been a real pleasure to pursue an interesting writing career. Part of that has been writing my own column for Prospect magazine on DIY personal finance. I’m proud of producing influential work and glad that I’ve been able to find my own voice as a journalist.

Which awards have you won?
In 2012 I won the Harold Wincott Award, mostly for my work in Prospect on DIY finance. It means a lot to me because it’s very prestigious and is voted for by a panel of respected journalists. It opens a lot of doors, and of course I put it on my CV, LinkedIn profile and mini-biog.

What inspires you?
I get some ideas by reading, but mostly through talking to people. You don’t always go looking for great ideas, but you know when you see one. As a journalist a lot of what you do is not writing and, to a lot of people, it doesn’t look like work.

What’s your motto in life?
I have a notebook I was given for Christmas that says: ‘Work less, play more. Enjoy life.’ It’s hard to live up to, but I try.

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