The “Love Island contestant to Instagram royalty” career path is well-established. After appearing on the show, the most impactful Islanders emerge to boosted social media followings, and, as a result, the potential for much larger incomes than they might have earned before they were whisked away to wear swimsuits and kiss on TV for two straight months.
Life post-show is different for contestants in basically every way: they’re confronted with new career prospects, much higher profiles and a great deal of public scrutiny. Increasingly, ITV has recognised this – an urgent necessity following the deaths of two former Islanders and Love Island’s former host, Caroline Flack – and over the years the network has added to the show’s aftercare package to make it more robust, and to help contestants transition into their new lives.
For 2021, ITV recently announced that Love Island’s duty of care package would include a minimum of eight therapy sessions after the show, social media training (this is also given to contributors on other ITV reality shows, like The Only Way Is Essex), guidance on taking on management after the show, plus training on financial management.
To gain some insight into what financial advice for people in the fairly unique position of having just appeared on the UK’s biggest TV show might actually look like, I picked the brain of Abby Banks, a 28-year-old financial advisor for The Private Office – who took me through the types of guidance Love Island contestants might expect to receive once they hop off the plane into a hotbed of endorsement deals and charcoal toothpaste spon-con offers.
(ITV declined a request to interview the financial trainers directly involved with the show.)
VICE: Hi Abby. What’s the benefit of a show like Love Island offering financial advice to its contestants? Is financial advice a realistic part of post-show welfare?
Abby: Particularly with shows like Love Island, it’s normal people going onto the show who are not yet famous. So it’s not just even the prize money, but the following influencing jobs they’ll have – and various income sources that will come in – will significantly change their financial life, but also their personal life, because they can probably achieve objectives that were never really on the table before coming into this kind of wealth.
It’s really important at the start to get that professional guidance on what they should be doing with it to make sure they have financial security. Because they’re often so young, some of this money might actually need to be there to help them through the remainder of their lifetimes. So I think it’s so important, and it can help with general welfare, knowing that actually, financially, they’ve got someone who’s looking after them and knows what they’re doing.
What is the most common piece of advice given to people like Love Island contestants, who see their financial situations change so quickly?
Before looking at specific areas of advice for a client, we almost always take a step back and do some lifetime cashflow forecasting. It takes your current age, and we project up to age 100, which probably seems ridiculously long, but what it allows us to do is start mapping out these key milestones and objectives with the client. Particularly with someone who’s a bit younger, it may be, “I want to buy a house for the first time,” or they might want to put some money into building the brand, especially if they’re an influencer – they are their brand, and that’s how they’re going to get paid.
Really easy wins for clients who come out of shows and have a lump sum is looking at your tax planning, for example. Everyone has got an ISA allowance of £20,000 each year, so you can put £20,000 into an ISA – there’s a stocks and shares ISA or a cash ISA, but you can only put into one of those. Any growth from that is completely tax-free. That can help to start building up a tax-efficient portfolio, which we can then use to help them.
When you have clients who come into money very quickly, as contestants on a show like this might, what can be the pitfalls without advice?
When you get a really large sum of money and you may not have had that level of wealth before, it is obviously very exciting, and you might have a lot of endorphins going through you, so you’d probably be quite impulsive! But actually, longer term planning is really important, particularly with younger clients. We don’t know what’s going to happen next week, never mind ten years down the line.
So, having that sensible guidance and support to map out the future can make that money more sustainable over the long-term. If that money is spent, it might be gone. We don’t know what the future holds in terms of work and jobs. It’s important to use it to have fun, but to protect some of it too. The pitfall is that the money can be used up before its time, whereas if you took professional advice, the sustainability of that money, and what you can do with it, is probably going to be different.
In general, what type of advice, typically, would be offered to contestants who’ve left the villa and received a lot of brand endorsement deals and offers?
We’d do annual reviews and deep dives with the client, because when you’re in that line of work your earnings can vary significantly year on year. There are a couple of tax rules – for example, pension funding. If you earn over £240,000 in a tax year, your annual allowance for pensions starts to be tapered down. It’s called a High Income Taper. If you earn over £312,000, your annual allowance for pension funding reduces from £40,000 gross to £4,000. If you do exceed that, there is a tax charge to pay.
So it’s things like that that need that regular oversight and communication, really. Just to check that you’re using your allowances, but not over-utilising them if you’ve been affected by any tapers like that. And particularly for clients in that world, where they do have shorter term contracts that will change on a yearly basis, it’s monitoring income that’s coming in and what impact that has on their tax position.
You often hear about Love Island contestants receiving huge amounts of money in brand deals – Amber Gill famously received a million pound deal with a clothing brand after leaving the villa. What would good financial advice look like for someone in a situation where large sums are involved?
There are really simple things, like the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. What it means is that £85,000 per banking license is protected. So if the bank went bust, the government insures your money up to £85,000. Anything above that amount is lost, effectively. When they’re getting a large sum of money into your account, particularly winnings that are tax-free – like from Love Island - or very large brand deals, actually a really quick win while they’re making a decision about that money is to look at something called NS&I [National Savings and Investments], which is backed by HM Treasury, and it’s 100 percent secure with no upper limit. Whereas, if you’re looking at banking institutions, it’s done per license. So Natwest and RBS, for example, share a banking license, so that £85,000 is per banking license. So you’re going to have to spread that money between lots of different accounts to get it below that limit. And it’s just things like that – looking at different risks, making sure that in the short-term that money’s absolutely safe, while you have the breathing room to come to terms with this large windfall.
Has social media changed financial advising at all? Are people wanting to come across as wealthier than they might be, and feeling the pressure to do so?
I would say that financial advice is quite a dated industry, putting it lightly. It is definitely changing and modernising, and it’s something that I think particularly women are beginning to engage with a lot more, and the advice we are giving women is changing. I think social media does have an impact, because the clients coming through are younger, and they do have significant amounts of money, and the advice needs to reflect that.
What’s the long-term advice for people who experience a boosted income like this?
If someone’s 21, coming out of Love Island, potentially we’re looking at a 70-year timeframe. What points do we need to be aware of that are coming down the line? It’s building up pots of money, and agreeing with that person that they’re comfortable locking away the money.
I think getting someone to look at the future can be quite difficult, but if you can map it out in a way that’s meaningful, it’s so much more engaging, and I think that’s where financial advisors will really add value for people who are coming into money like this.