We took the opportunity to take him aside for a few minutes and have a chat…
Hi Declan, good to have you here. So tell us, what is life like now that you have left the BBC? What keeps you busy?
Well, I’ve actually been freelance for many years. The BBC was my highest-profile client, of course, but was just one of many organisations that hired me to explain what’s going on in business and personal finance.
At the end of the summer I decided to stop making programmes for the BBC so I could give more attention to my other clients. I had the same secret fear as every freelancer that it would all go wrong and that within a month I would be begging on the streets, but so far, so good. I’ve been busier – and luckier – than ever.
What was your favourite aspect of working at the BBC?
I had been working for, at or around the BBC for almost exactly 20 years. It was stimulating, hilarious and exasperating all at once and I’m continuously grateful to the Corporation for all the opportunities it offered me. It’s always fun to work with people who are much smarter than you are!
Also, I was grateful to the millions of people who welcomed me into their homes each day. Some of them called me Dermot, one or two thought I was called Eamonn, but the welcome was always warm and genuine. It was always a pleasure to meet viewers and listeners in the street and hear what they really thought about the product they paid for.
Throughout the MyFS series, we will be talking about a whole host of financial issues and concerns facing the general public. Is there anything that you would particularly like to see changed or improved?
It would help if sections of the industry weren’t quite so keen to rip us off at every available opportunity. That wrecks the reputation of the rest of the industry that actually wants to work with us to help us make better financial decisions.
Talk to us in simple terms, be open and honest, and don’t ever forget it’s our money; we are entrusting it to you.
In the first MyFS debate we will be focusing on the financial options available to people in retirement. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the country when it comes to pensions?
We are living longer, healthier, more fulfilled and active lives. What great news that is. It’s a triumph of human ingenuity over illness and infirmity. The problem is that we haven’t saved enough money to pay for it. So we need to save more and to make the money we have work harder and use it more effectively. Although, finding a way to allow people to do that is not as clear cut as it sounds.
Which other journalists or broadcasters that report on finance do you admire?
Adrian Chiles and Liz Barclay taught me everything I know. They probably won’t thank me for pointing that out. They showed you could talk about money like a normal human being and still be informative and credible.
Paul Lewis is just a journalistic tour de force. Mind like a laser, tongue like a razor blade, all deployed to make his listeners’ lives better. I’ve learned so much, sitting at his feet.
The best journalists are the ones you’ve never heard of – the Linda McCanns, Carolyn Rices and Ian Roses of this world – the producers behind the scenes who chase the right stories and find the best guests, day in, day out. There are too many to name; but they know who they are.
What about financial services brands, are there any out there that you have a particular fondness for or that you like / respect?
That would be telling…
Nice, I like it, keep your independent credentials intact. Well maybe then you could at least tell us who your favourite tweeter is?
I’ve just looked, and I follow 8,444 people. Some are must-reads because they’re on the money every time, some because they’re hilarious, some because they’re absolutely filthy.
Only one is flagged to send me alerts every time he tweets, and that’s @BBCBenThompson; you can decide for yourself which of those categories he falls into.
He’s the next one we’ll follow.
Finally, before we let you get back to planning for next Wednesday’s event, these debates are aimed at inspiring people to get more involved in the wider issues involved around financial services… do you have a favourite quote that inspires you and keeps you motivated that you might like to share with us?
The world doesn’t owe you a drink or a lift. Though, until I pass my driving test, I occasionally have to ask for one or the other, if not both.