Barber Mark Maciver in his shop

Creating a buzz about our finances

He’s barbered for A-listers like Stormzy and built a business from scratch. Mark Maciver, aka SliderCuts, shares the secrets to his success

“There’s something about this chair,” says Mark. “I’ve heard so many different stories from people that they wouldn’t tell their closest friends.”

When he’s not barbering for rapper Stormzy or any of his other celeb clients (too many to list, but they include Doctor Who star Reggie Yates, boxer Anthony Joshua and football pundit Jermaine Jenas) Mark’s listening to others pour their hearts out. Often it’s money troubles that emerge.

“I speak about money all the time,” he tells Quids in! “So people in my chair, they’re very willing to talk about finances. I think that’s creating a safe space for people to talk. There’s a lot that I’ve seen where they’re embarrassed about things like being in debt and not knowing how to get out of it. I”m very open about my situation. If I’m in debt, I’ll say that I’m in debt.”

Separate accounts

Mark often shares the secrets he’s picked up as owner of the SliderCuts barbers shop in East London. People are shy to admit what they don’t know, he says, but how are we supposed to learn if no one tells us these things?

“Maybe they haven’t got enough money, maybe they don’t understand bank accounts, online banking or separating their money,” Mark says. “These are things that seem very simple to the ones who know. There’s one tip I’ve given and loads of people have come back to say it’s so helpful – which is just opening up a separate account and saving money through that so you don’t have so much access to it.

“I’m not disciplined enough to have money in my account and not touch it. I’m honest with myself. So as I pay myself at the end of the month I take the things that need to go to savings, taxes, VAT and all that kind of stuff and separate that first.”

Mark’s also written a book, Shaping Up Culture, about how others with his background can also build successful businesses. And earlier this year he backed the Nobody In The Dark campaign to get more people online. Locals were invited into his shop for a free haircut and Quids in! workers were on hand for money advice, which included hints on how being online helps our finances. So does Mark think digital is essential to money management?

That’s why it’s called Nobody In The Dark, because people are in the dark and they’re scared

Mark Maciver

“One hundred per cent,” he tells us. “It’s all digital. It’s almost become like writing and reading – the basics. There are lots of people who are excluded because they can’t read and write and I think it’s coming to the same place digitally. That might make them not apply for a job because they have to go online. And knowing how to use apps to make life easier, like banking apps to be able to check what’s coming in and going out.”

You’re not alone

But with more than a million homes in the UK still offline, there’s a lot of work to do to make life fair for everyone. Not being online means higher bills and fewer chances in life. Mark knows this too, but says it’s hard for people to ask for help.

“People are kind of like, ‘You know I don’t do that kind of stuff’ or, ‘You know I’m a dinosaur – I”m not really up on this whole digital thing’. They do it like that, right? They’re talking about it in a way where it’s, ‘Oh, I don’t care’. But over the years I’ve learned that a lot of truths are said in jest.

“That’s why the campaign is called Nobody In The Dark because these people are in the dark and they’re scared. And so for me it’s important to be open and honest because it helps those people to know that it’s OK.”

Being online can really help our finances, as Mark tells his customers

It all comes back to what Mark’s learned from listening to people in the barber’s chair.

“You’re not the only person who doesn’t understand finance, you’re not the only person who doesn’t know how to use the internet,” he says. “You’re not even the only person who argues with their partner! If more people were open and honest then others would be more comfortable talking about their issues or asking for help.”

Photos: Tom Harrison

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