‘Being able to manage money is a very important life skill’

Me and My Money: Dermot Murray, CEO of the Insurance Institute

Insurance Institute CEO Dermot Murray: “I wouldn’t have the patience for shopping around.” Photograph:  Shane O’Neill Photography

Insurance Institute CEO Dermot Murray: “I wouldn’t have the patience for shopping around.” Photograph: Shane O’Neill Photography


Are you a saver or a spender?

A bit of both, I suppose. I got good advice years ago about always spending less than you earn, but it’s easier said than done.

Do you shop around for better value?

Not really. I wouldn’t have the patience for that. I’m more likely to ask for advice from friends or family. I’ve also a couple of pals who are encyclopaedic in their knowledge of where and when to buy stuff and what to pay for it.

What has been your most extravagant purchase and how much did it cost?

Probably golf equipment. I’ve wasted a lot of money on that over the years, and all to no avail. 

What purchase have you made that you consider the best value for money?

That would have to be the family home. We bought it in the early 1990s and were lucky in that shortly afterwards house prices climbed rapidly. It has served us very well and we have never regretted it for a minute.

How do you prefer to shop – online or local? 

Oh, local, absolutely. The only thing I buy online are airline tickets and hotel reservations. There’s no substitute for being able to see the goods before you buy them. 

Do you haggle over prices?

I don’t, but my wife Karen does. She is particularly good at it, especially when we are on holidays. We were in Florence last year and the folks selling handbags in the markets were glad to see the back of her.  

Has the recession changed your spending habits? 

Well, the recession is a long time ago now. It definitely did at the time, but I’d say we have probably reverted to type at this stage.    

Do you invest in shares? 

Not in individual stocks anymore – and there’s the real lesson of the recession or the global financial crisis. Markets were in freefall until March 2009, but they then started to recover and those in managed funds have recouped all their losses and more. Those of us who had too many of our eggs in one basket have been the real losers. 

Cash or card?

Card as much as possible. That’s the only way to keep any sort of track of where the money goes.

What was the last thing you bought and was it good value for money?

I bought a new lawnmower a few weeks ago and I’ve been getting great use out of it.  

Have you ever successfully saved up for a relatively big purchase? 

No. I’ve tended to do things the other way around. We saved the deposit for our first house, but that was an awful long time ago.

 Have you ever lost money? 

Yes, on bank shares, in 2007/08. I worked for a bank at the time. As I said earlier, too many eggs in one basket.   

Are you a gambler and, if so, have you ever had a big win?

I have a big interest in almost all the spectator sports and I often have a small bet. For Auction winning the Champion Hurdle at 40/1 sticks in my mind. I think that was 1982, and I don’t think I’ve had a bigger winner since.

Is money important to you?

It is. I think being able to manage money and in particular to match income and outgoings is a very important life skill. Most families with teenagers and students in the house will have as many transactions as a small business, and keeping the books balanced is a big challenge. Money problems can get serious very quickly and can have a profound impact on the quality of people’s lives.

 How much money do you have on you now?


In conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea