Martyn Davies – Expats and Financial Planning

Ep 42- Matrtyn Davis

Today, Derek is with Martyn Davies and he will give us an insight into the lives of expats in the Philippines and the opportunities in the Philippines with its exploding economy. They will also discuss the influx of expats living in the Philippines.



  • Martyn Davies is an Englishman in Manila. He left home years ago. He is in Manila with a financial planning and private wealth management firm.
  • Martyn has been living in the Philippines for a time now. He’s also been in different locations. He shared his experience in those locations in contrast to his experiences in the Philippines.
  • Martyn’s job is to connect with as many expats as possible.
  • Martyn left the UK six years ago and went to Dubai and achieved a complete change of career path. The glitz and glamour of Dubai didn’t take long to wear off for him. Dubai is great for business and there are a lot of expats there earning considerable money in a tax-free environment. But at the same time, it was also a bit toxic for him.
  • After Dubai, he went to Johannesburg which suited him better because he was an outdoors type of person.
  • At first, Martyn was hesitant to transfer to the Philippines but Greg talked him into transferring.
  • During his first month, he felt claustrophobic because of the population in the Philippines. Also, the traffic in the Philippines took some getting used to.
  • Martyn ‘s target clientele are the expats in the Philippines and he gives them advice primarily on investments.
  • There’s a huge increase in the number of expats living in the Philippines.
  • Lately, the Philippines is getting a bad rep from the media, however, Martyn explains that you just need to have a level of awareness because even in London or Johannesburg there are places that he wouldn’t dare go to.



Key Points

  • English in the Philippines is very pervasive and the Philippines is very culturally aligned to the U.S. As a result, this makes it so much easier for expats to adapt.
  • Martyn described Manila as an urban sprawl but when he got used to Manila he liked it. And the Philippines is a good place to be especially for his business.
  • According to Martyn, there’s a huge increase in the number of expats living in the Philippines.
  • Lately, the Philippines is getting a bad rep from the media, however, Martyn explains that you just need to have a level of awareness because even in London or Johannesburg there are places that he wouldn’t dare go to.





[read more=”Read Full Transcript” less=”Hide Transcript”]

Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator. This is episode number 41 and we are joined by Martyn Davies. He is an Englishman in Manila. He left home some years ago and he’s a long way from home. He is in Manila with a financial planning and private wealth management firm. And this is really just a chat with Martyn but it’s gives you a huge amount of insight into the lives of expats in the Philippines and the opportunities in the Philippines with this exploding economy that we have at the moment. We discuss this there’s a huge influx of expats living here and that’s really a great sign for the economy of the Philippines and the opportunities that generates for people both inside the Philippines and people outside of the Philippines. So, it’s a great episode. I’m sure you’ll enjoy. And if you won any of the show notes please go to our website which is

Derek: Hi and welcome back everyone. Today I’m talking to Martyn Davies of Austen Morris which is a financial planning and private wealth management firm here in the Philippines. Hi Martyn, how are you?

Martyn : Hi Derek, very well thanks, very well.

Derek: Good, good. Yeah. And so, you have been, I wanna get a little bit of your background story because you’ve been living in the Philippines for a while and you’ve also been based in a number of expat locations. And I want to share with the audience your experience of the Philippines in contrast to those locations. And just an insight really into the economy here in the Philippines, so maybe we could start with just a brief introduction to you and how you came to be in the Philippines.

Martyn : Sure it’s an interesting story. I’ve now been here just over two years so not as long as a lot of people, there’s a lot of people that have been here for a fairly significant time. A lot of people around the same kind of tiny stages myself so the odds just my work perspective I’m feeling that a lot more people are coming in to connect.

Derek: Seems to be the tipping point, two or three years.

Martyn : Exactly. Yeah. I mean part of our job is really to connect with as many of the expats coming into the country so we can kind of talk to them about what we do. And definitely over the last 8, 10, 12 months, I’ve seen you know a significant increase in that which is really positive. It’s positive for both my business in the Philippines, Philippines generally, which is great.

Derek: I’ve personally noticed that there’s a huge influx now of expats isn’t there? Which is obviously a good signal. And do you find that it is a part of conglomerates and big corporates or is it a lot of SMEs that are sending people over here.

Martyn : It’s a strange one actually. I think it’s when I first got here it seemed to be a lot of the smaller mid companies that were doing it. I mean there’s now a lot more in energy for example there’s a lot and a lot of production as well which is interesting. Mining’s kind of gone down the hill a fair bit recently because there’s been a lot more legislation coming in. The service industry which is huge because of the, you know the population they’ve got here which is very educated. You know the English language is obviously very important side. So that’s really the real boom side of it in my opinion. That’s in Manila, outside of Manila I’ve got very, very little experience. But I would assume it’s going to be slightly different depending on which area of the Philippines you’re gonna be into some of the industry they do et cetera.


Derek: And so obviously if people can tell by the accent you originate from the UK but you’ve spent significant time out of the UK and in many other kinds of expat locations. And what led you on that journey and how did you end up in the Philippines.

Martyn : Well yeah, it’s always an interesting one to be fair. I mean I left the UK six years ago and went to Dubai achieved a complete change of career path and everything but that’s a much longer and a much more boring story. So, I started off with financial services in Dubai and was there just come into four years which was enough for me really. I mean the glitz and glamour of Dubai didn’t take long for it to wear off for certain people. I’ve also got friends that were out there before me and I don’t think will be leaving in a hurry. But for me I just needed to get a bit more reality really I mean it is great for business obviously there’s a lot of there’s a lot of expats out there earning you know considerable money in a tax-free environment. So, business-wise it was really good but.

Derek: But life-wise a little toxic, yeah?

Martyn : Yeah. I struggled there a little bit you know. I mean, the six months of the year you can’t really go outside because it’s too hot which is a strange concept for someone coming from London you know. But so, the opportunity came up with Johannesburg which, which I grasped with both hands. You know it is a great opportunity for me to open up an office for another company I was working to prior to this one and a new kind of Africa a little bit. I was actually born in Sierra Leone. And we traveled around Africa as a child so you know I knew what the lifestyle was gonna be like. A much more outdoorsy you know which, which was much more of me really. I mean it was getting a bit stir crazy in Dubai. Obviously, we’ve got our own issues there as well with, with crime and things like that in Johannesburg. But you know a lot of places do and it’s how you manage that and just, just keeping that level of awareness I think. I’m here, I ended up.

Derek: Between the three countries you’ve really quite seen a cross-section of developing countries. I mean Dubai is obviously.

Martyn : For sure.

Derek: Very advanced in another way it’s still a developing country.

Martyn : Yeah.

Derek: So, the Philippines is quite polarized as well. And what, what brought you over here and.

Martyn : Well I mean again it’s the life of an expat really. I mean the owner of the company I worked for now approached me and said you know I had fancy going in developing the office in Manila or I mean Austen Morris had a presence for quite a number of years because I had offices in Shanghai. So, people used to fly in and out and we had a small kind of administration service office but no you know real drive or ambition to develop the market to any real extent really. So, Greg kind of approached me in Johannesburg and ask me that question and I was quite adamant that I didn’t want to go anywhere because I’d just over a year in a nice network of friends and just established where we’re allowed to go and et cetera, so you know I didn’t really want to move. Greg convinced me to come out here for two months to check it out and cards on the table I mean the first month and just wanted to head straight back and there was a lot of factors to that. It was the middle of the rainy season so it was July. The traffic took me a lot to get my head round. Though it doesn’t take long to get used to it to be honest and it is used as an excuse as far as I’m concerned. And it was the volume of people for me. My first experience in Asia so Middle East, Africa, Europe I mean is that you don’t get the same density of population. I just found that quite claustrophobic to start with. But then I moved into month two I did a bit traveling around the islands and then beaches et cetera and kind of understood how it works. I mean Manila is where, where we live and work.

Derek: Manila is a very different concept to the rest of the Philippines, isn’t it? Manila is concrete and quite dense and.

Martyn : It’s an urban sprawl, yeah, it’s a real urban sprawl. You know which I kind of very used I like it now means there are some real laughs that maybe other day. I do like it now here you know you just got to understand it a little bit. People find their niches, exactly.

Derek: Funnily enough in episode 33 I spoke to Fernanda Costa who is in the Philippines with a social enterprise and I, she had only been here two weeks so I took that perspective of her. She’s from London and the prospect but the initial couple of weeks in the Philippines and it does take some adjusting to. But actually, as well you know I mean was this significant to you that the level of culture and the level of an English language is so pervasive and it’s really so culturally aligned to the U.S. I suppose more than UK.

Martyn : For sure it feels like the State, the United States is never forgotten. I mean it is all in the history as well. You know the US have had such a presence here historically and that the like you say I mean the whole culture is based around the U.S. You know it’s an amazing thing that you know basketball is the biggest game here.

Derek: Yeah, yeah. I mean you just look at all the food and there’s a lot of pizza and it’s probably not a bad thing culturally but actually economically I think that it’s a potentially huge step up for the Philippines, isn’t it? Now that everyone’s speaking English. Such an aligned culture.

Martyn : Yeah, I think that’s. That’s massive. I mean the English side of it is huge and then it’s the population they’ve got now is a very young population and in a way, I would say in the scale of a lot of countries but to me it’s something I’ve never experienced. You know it’s got a very, very strong demographic for economic growth. Combine that with the English and the level of education. You know you’re going to be very highly qualified to do fairly menial jobs here I understand. You know it all points in the right direction which again can be seen by you know what’s happening in the economy on a macro level. You know it is booming and continue to do so that hopefully we can all live with jobs. I mean that’s, that’s the plan.

Derek: Well this huge potential isn’t there and puts a little bit of color to that. There’s about 500,000 graduates coming out every year. And as you say like you know to be even in call center you have to have a university qualification and won’t consider you otherwise. And then you add the booming young population. And the six, seven percent year on year growth is really quite a success story. If they can keep up with the pace and get the infrastructure to support it.

Martyn : Well that would be the concern is the kind of infrastructure side of things. But the new president seems to have fairly focused plans on developing that in various shapes and forms. We’ll have to wait and see. But I mean at the moment it’s a very, very positive place to be you know to be living in an expat and to be working in the industry I work at. I’ve worked lot of lots of other industries. You know I hear a lot of positive stories from pretty much all of my friends most of the time. You know we can’t be positive all of the time. But now it is an exciting place to be in an exciting place to be developing a business. I mean essentially that’s what I’ve inherited here is a small conservative office that the plan has been to develop which we which we’ve done. You know it’s a very difficult first year but this year has been very, very good.

Derek: Right.

Martyn : And hopefully it will continue.

Derek: So, your target clientele are the expats here and advising them primarily on investments.

Martyn : Principally, yeah. I mean if you break down very simplistically what we do I mean it’s two fairly distinct areas one of those would be financial planning so that’s where people are looking to prepare for live situations really. I mean that could be things a time and you know higher education plans for children etc. property purchases whatever. So, people are looking to save certain amounts of money usually on a monthly basis towards those goals. And then on the other side is what we term the more wealth management where people have been lucky enough to accumulate a lump sum of money through you know either previous savings activity, property sales, bonuses whatever really and then we can we can manage that for them in various different you know tax efficient offshore locations. So, a fairly broad remit you know but it’s important for people to at least be considering that when you know living and working in you know offshore in locations such as the Philippines.

Derek: And so, you have you have your ear to the ground very much in terms of the ex-pat inflows and movements. I mean do you know the open stats on the expat numbers and whether it’s increasing it. It certainly feels like it does.

Martyn : Well, I don’t have any stats specifically to hand but I can tell you for 100 percent that it is increasing because we get a lot of information from one of the government agencies actually which gives us a lot of information on people coming into the country so that we can see that on kind of weekly basis. And it is and it is growing significantly.

You know it’s a lot of the Western expats coming in for some of the larger businesses as well you know bringing in a lot of people which is nice to see because there is a certain amount of trepidation at certain points over the last year or so with some of the news that comes out of the Philippines. But you know I think that’s now pretty firmly been put to bed. It has to be you know back to business and services as usual which is which is also great.

Derek: Right. It gets a little bit of a bad rep, doesn’t it? But I think media generally wants to you know blow up a storm about anything because it creates column inches.

Martyn : Of course.

Derek: But there is a sort of external impression of the Philippines that it’s a pretty dangerous place. But it’s certainly quite hospitable you know.

Martyn : Yeah. I mean this anyway, Derek is at the end of the day, I mean in certain places in London I wouldn’t go to. Certain places in Manila I wouldn’t go to. The same with Johannesburg you know. Dubai was on the complete other end of the spectrum. There’s not many places he wouldn’t go to. There’s not many places to go for a stall in Dubai. But you know it’s just having a level of awareness. I mean touch on wood I’ve not experienced any kind of negative incidents around that kind of area either here or in Johannesburg. Just keeping that awareness and just being sensible really. If you’re gonna be stupid then you’re potentially gonna get in trouble. But yeah you know touch wood nothing experiences last far.

Derek: Good, good. Thank you for your insights Martyn . And if people want to get in touch how can they do that.

Martyn : Well the easiest way would be I think so. So, my email address is [email protected]

How is that? Hope you enjoyed that with Martyn Davies. Again, if you want any of the show notes please go to our website which is And if you want to ask us any questions any questions at all please just send us an email and we will get straight back to you. That e-mail is [email protected]



Related outsourcing resources


    James D. has submitted "3 free quotes"

    Start Now

    days ago.