On the ball: Jonathan Davies has invested in property
Former rugby star Jonathan Davies would abolish inheritance tax if he were made Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Davies was a schoolboy when his father died from cancer and later he lost his first wife, Karen, to the disease when his youngest child was only a year old. He thinks he should be allowed to pass on everything he has earned to his children without getting taxed on his money a second time.
Now 57, he spoke to Donna Ferguson from his home in South Wales where he lives with second wife Jay. He is president of Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.
How have you been affected by the coronavirus?
I do a lot of after-dinner speaking and sports broadcasting so that’s all been called off. It has hit me financially, but my wife is still working and we’re doing OK. We try to go for walks to keep mentally and physically sharp. The worst thing has been not being able to see my mum who’s 81. But we’ve got to make these sacrifices and listen to the advice because what the key workers are doing on the front-line is remarkable. You’ve just got to do your bit.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be careful with it because we didn’t really have a lot of it. My dad was a buyer for the steelworks in South Wales. Whatever they wanted on site, they’d have to go through my dad and the invoicing process. My mother started off working in Woolworths but gave up her job when she had children.
When I was 12, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. He couldn’t work because he was so ill and my mum couldn’t work because she was looking after him. It was a nightmare, emotionally and financially. There were times my mum didn’t have any money to pay the milkman and he’d say: ‘Pay when you can.’ My sister and I used to hide from a couple of rent people.
Dad died when I was 14 after the cancer spread to his stomach. After that, my mum got a job in a school kitchen while I lost interest in school and started stacking shelves at the Co-op. It was tough. We didn’t have much, but we appreciated what we did have: plenty of love, food and friends around us.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Not really. I’ve always worked and been able to live within my means. I was working in an opencast mine and playing rugby for my local village team when I got noticed and my rugby career took off. I played because I loved the sport, not for the pay. Even in the mid to late-1980s, when I was playing for Wales on a Saturday, I carried on with a 9-to-5 job I had in sales five days a week. You didn’t get paid for playing rugby union in those days: the game didn’t go professional until 1995.
Have you ever been paid silly money?
I’ve done a couple of after-dinner speeches where I’ve been paid ridiculous amounts – like £5,000 for a 40-minute speech. You think: ‘God almighty, times have changed.’ But if they think I’m worth it, I must be. I just talk about my career – where I came from, what I did and tell some funny stories.
What was the most lucrative year of your life?
It was 1995 because I was paid all year round. I was playing rugby league in England and then in the off-season, I went to play in Australia. In total, I earned a six-figure sum that year.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
It was a brand new Mercedes. I bought it when I was 40 and retired from rugby. I thought, ‘I’ve earned it.’
What is your biggest money mistake?
I bought a couple of Spanish properties at the wrong time in 2007. They have fallen in value. I had planned to make a short-term investment and now I’ve got a not very attractive long-term investment.
The best money decision you have made?
Buying a semi-detached house in Cardiff in 1997 for £90,000. I’ve still got it. It’s worth quite a bit more now – I know I’ll be happy when I come to sell it.
Do you save into a pension?
I do. It seemed like the best financial avenue for me when I started because I didn’t have enough money to buy a property – and I then just carried on doing it. I think it’s good to have a spread of investments – in both pension and property.
Kicking king: Jonathan playing for Wales in the Rugby World Cup in June 1987
Do you invest in the stock market?
Yes, I have invested quite a bit. A couple of good friends are financial advisers so I get advice from them. I haven’t looked at it for a while. Everything’s been hit by the coronavirus in some shape or form, but I don’t have to take my money out now, thankfully. I am planning to just ride out this latest storm and then hopefully everything will pick up again.
Do you own property?
Yes. A s well as my two properties in Spain, I have three in Cardiff and one in Swansea. I split my time between Cardiff and Swansea so I can see my kids a lot. In Cardiff, I live in a three-bedroom detached house and in Swansea I live in a five-bedroom detached house.
If you were Chancellor what would you do?
I would abolish inheritance tax. If you work hard all your life and get taxed on it, and then when you die you get taxed on what you’ve got as well, that’s wrong. That’s getting taxed twice. When I pass away, I want to leave something to my kids. I’ve worked since I was a teenager, I’ve paid my taxes fair and square. I don’t want the taxman taking my children’s inheritance.
Do you donate money to charity?
I do. I’m president of the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff. I donate a lot of my time and I also fundraise for them.
Karen, my first wife, was diagnosed with stomach cancer when she was 34. She was treated in the Velindre hospital. They asked me to be their patron 12 years ago.
I have three kids who were aged seven, three and one when their mother passed away. I remember crying when she got the diagnosis. I stopped playing rugby. I gave it up to be with my kids and look after them.
So anyway, that’s my charity and I’ve helped them to raise £31million in 12 years.
What is your number one financial priority?
Obviously, I want to be financially secure when I’m older and can’t work. Hopefully, I can also help my children in their lives – maybe through the purchase of property or something like that.