UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The Money Secret
The Money Secret The Money Secret

Rob Parsons
ISBN 9780340862773 (0340862777)
Hodder & Stoughton, 2005

Category: Christian Life & Discipleship

The Money Secret by Rob Parsons could be described as a book about debt and how to get out of it - but that would be doing it a disservice. It is much, much more.

It follows the fictional story of Amy whose debt problems drove her to attempt suicide. Enter Lydia — a sort of ministering angel — who takes Amy on an enlightening journey to find The Money Secret. As invisible onlookers they drop into the lives of all kinds of people, rich and poor, who are struggling with financial worries. Finally, after numerous meetings with Lydia she reaches her goal and discovers The Money Secret. "The strange thing is," she says to Lydia, "that everybody knows the secret. It's common sense really. We just forgot it." Rob Parsons definitely jolts our memory with his devastatingly clever format and delivery. The narrative tool works brilliantly and you always feel you are reading a story not a finance manual.
As a result the book is disarming in its ability to cut through the financial piffle that bombards us daily. Seamlessly woven into the narrative are endless enlightening (and sometimes frightening!) facts and figures — a positive gold mine, in fact. For example, did you know that Dee Hock, the man who invented the Visa card, vowed never to be more in debt than he had cash in the bank? Or that credit card companies prefer "revolvers" to convenience users? The latter normally pay off the balance at the end of the month, where the former only make minimum payments, often pay late or even miss payments completely but they do make it easy for the company to make healthy profits. Another of the book's insightful observations is that "Retail Therapy is the equivalent of a throat lozenge when what we need is ointment for the soul" — very thought provoking.

Exquisite illustrations and superbly simple yet witty and humorous stories that Lydia shares with Amy add weight to the serious points the book is making. Like the story of "Stupid Alice", the poor woman who could only work in cash and used labelled eggcups each week to sort out her bills. She ended up showing her system to the local professionals when they got into a mess with their finances! Or the story of the Alien and the Earthling which shows just how foolish and blinkered we humans can be when it comes to money. The Alien's observation and subsequent comments while hovering above the M25 motorway are hilarious yet so pertinent they'll make you cringe.

In the book, credit card companies and banks come in for quite a knock. Lydia explains to Amy, "When people deal with their bank many of them think it is still the same institution it always used to be. If you say the word 'bank' to most people, the associations are of stability and integrity — we think of banks as part of the 'system', almost like the police or the local town hall. But the past twenty years have seen massive changes in the way banks operate. And with some banks, your grandmother has become the wolf, but you don't know it."
People matter to us because people matter to God
The newly launched Kingdom Bank is acutely aware of the misgivings in the banking system that has become so mechanistic and dehumanised. Birthed from a fundamental Christian charity, Kingdom Bank seeks to redress the issues of financial integrity for the evangelical UK Christian — and ultimately to impact the financial market place.

Lying at this new bank's core are fundamental faith-based concepts that celebrate the excellence of a values-based banking service designed to uphold what is eminently sound and sensible. People matter because people matter to God. The Kingdom Bank aspires to greatness - to be a distinctive financial Christian provider where savers and borrowers are treated with courtesy and respect.

It's more than just responsibly recycling Christian money into Church and Charity plans and projects. Kingdom Bank wants to give real and tangible added value benefits to customers, where people like Amy can be helped fairly and sensitively out of debt, without it costing them "an arm and a leg". And where, with wise counselling and support from Christian debt agencies, they can regain their self-esteem, self worth and have their credit record re-established.
But what can be done?
Rob Parsons suggests, "Red Riding Hood gets herself a little education which will allow her to spot the difference between molars and fangs." A little education can make a world of difference — and that's what Kingdom Bank wants to do — make a difference for you and be a Christian voice to the financial world to bring in the changes where people can receive good advice and be trusted. But it needs YOU to be an essential part of it.

Colin Emmett, May 2005

Colin Emmett is CEO of Kingdom Bank, bringing Christian principles to the world of finance.

From a review previously published in Faith4Life magazine, reused here by kind permission.

Kingdom Bank

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