Meet Phil Calvert, founder of LifeTalk and awesome keynote speaker

Phil Calvert, founder of LifeTalk

Phil Calvert is a marketing specialist who’s worked with financial advisers, IFAs and financial planners in the UK and around the world for more than 40 years.

He’s delivered motivational speeches to more than a million financial planning experts worldwide and founded the hugely popular LifeTalk online community for IFAs and financial planners.

So, he knows a thing or two about attracting clients and building a killer career in financial services.

This month, Victoria Hicks was lucky enough to sit down for a coffee and chat with Phil to learn more about his professional journey so far, and what the future might hold.

Could you give us a potted history of your career working with the financial planning profession?

“Straight after A-levels in 1978, I went to the Dorking Jobcentre and after a 10-minute interview, I was told I was cut out for a career in pension scheme administration.

“I had no idea what that even meant!

“But, a week later I was working for the National Employers’ Life Assurance Company in the pensions department. God, it was dull.

“After three months, my boss suggested that I was more suited to sales, so I was shipped off to Croydon to train as a Broker Consultant, or “Inspector” as we were called then. Over the next 12 years, I met thousands of financial advisers and learnt a great deal about the industry.

“An adviser in Surrey then tempted me to join him, and I became an IFA for a couple of years. Two years later, Zurich Life made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I returned to life with a provider. Nine years on, I left Zurich as Head of National Accounts.

“I then spent a few years as Head of Sales and Head of Marketing with Permanent Insurance and Pioneer Friendly Society. I also worked in marketing with Quay Software during their acquisition by Capita. This was a period of real movement in technology, which fascinates me to this day.

“Since then, I’ve been an independent marketing consultant and founded LifeTalk in 1998. This has enabled me to speak at hundreds of conferences in the UK and around the world, and I’ve presented to more than a million financial planning professionals worldwide.”

That’s quite the career! What was the most pivotal moment?

“Being promoted to Head of National Accounts at Zurich Life was a huge moment.

“It was both exciting and challenging. Up to that point, I had only built relationships with smaller adviser firms who had unique issues which the larger nationals simply didn’t face – the mindset of a national advice firm is very different from that of smaller firms.”

You clearly want to make a difference to the profession, and the LifeTalk community is an example of this. What’s the origin story?

“I had always been a keen networker. During my early career I’d attended just about every industry conference and trade show. By 1998 I’d met thousands of advisers and even kept all of their business cards, so I had a huge network of my own.

“I was attending a networking event in London hosted by Ecademy – the world’s first B2B networking platform and a forerunner of LinkedIn that also held regular in-person events.

“At one of their meetings, the founders announced they were launching communities on their platform. I instantly thought it would be fun to create an online group for financial advisers where they could network, ask questions, share best practice, and support one another.

“The same evening, I went home and created the first version of LifeTalk.

“And the rest is history!”

What does LifeTalk look like today?

“Across Facebook and LinkedIn, we have almost 11,000 members, who still use them as I originally envisaged – to network, share best practice, exchange ideas, and get support.

“The Facebook community is particularly engaged! In fact, just last week we had one of our highest engagement days, with more than 2,200 professionals accessing the group on that single day.

“Over the years, many IFAs have told me they’ve made major business decisions based on the support they’ve gained in the groups, which is very rewarding for me.”

What’s next for LifeTalk, and why should other financial planning professionals join?

“More than ever, advisers and financial planners need to network and engage with their peers, for the simple reason that there is so much change taking place.

“Some of this change is on a scale that’s never been seen before, and which provides very real challenges and opportunities for the profession.

“What’s also exciting, is that we’re seeing many younger advisers joining the group to learn from more experienced members – but also to share entrepreneurial ideas about how to start, scale and exit their firms and break into new markets.”

What has been your proudest LifeTalk moment?

“To be honest, I get one of these most weeks – when an adviser messages me privately to say how valuable they find the community.

“Advisers and planners have so much to think about these days, particularly around regulation, that having access to brilliant ideas in a living, breathing community of their peers is priceless.”

What’s your LifeTalk BHAG  (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?

“I would love the LifeTalk community to become a voice for the profession. The amount of knowledge and experience of those at the ‘coal face’ is immense, and they have so much value to provide not just to each other but on a greater scale.

“I’ve always known that partnering with a firm was an important goal to expedite the growth of the community. But finding the right one was really challenging.

“LifeTalk is fundamentally about the members, so it’s been a breath of fresh air to work with Melo, who has the right vision to grow the community.

“Exciting times and goals lie ahead.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a community?

“As it happens, I’m planning a book on exactly this!

“It depends on your motivations for starting a community, but it can be hugely rewarding and also massively frustrating.

“Firstly, you need to have a clear goal for what you are trying to achieve.

“But, if you’re serious about it, be prepared to invest a great deal of time – even just to get it off the ground. Initially, you’ll feel that you’re shouting into an empty aircraft hangar and not getting any response – but keep going – you’ll get there in the end.”

Get in touch

If you’d like to learn more about Phil, head over to LinkedIn or Facebook and join the LifeTalk community today.

Find out more about the “Melo vision” and talk to us about your business. If you’re an adviser, we can help you shake things up and make positive changes.

Hit us up in our inbox at, or chat to us on 0113 4656111.


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