Paul Johnson understands more than most that you have options after completely changing direction from a life working in commercial insurance. During Christmas in 2008, amid the dark days of the GFC, Johnson found himself with personal challenges, a young family, a costly monthly mortgage, and a few thousand pounds in his portfolio.
He realised commercial insurance would never be his passion, nor would it deliver outsized financial returns. Johnson decided to change course — a decision eventually leading to his present-day role building Power Metal Resources into a global metals explorer, positioned for large-scale discoveries of some of the world’s most highly sought after metals.
Asked about his early life influences, Johnson considers his answer for a few moments. “My family was evangelical Christian, so that meant we went to church about five times a week,” he says. “My dad was a lay preacher, and when I was young, I would often go with him as he travelled around preaching at different churches, often to large groups of people. I suppose those experiences may have unwittingly given me a desire to deliver a message with conviction as well.”
Dig a little deeper, and you realise many other influences have played a part. Johnson’s CV, full of experiences and qualifications, reads like a finely planned journey targeting the top echelons of the commercial insurance sector rather than any hint of a future in the resources game.
I think he would be the first to agree. Johnson recalls a career filled with many twists and turns before reaching its current destination. He remembers the early days, not long out of university, working as a chartered accountant before soon realising a life of certainty and sameness was not a life that he wished to lead.
“It only took a short while for me to realise that I wasn’t cut out for this type of working environment,” Johnson says. “The thing that most freaked me out was going to the payroll department and asking if I could book a holiday in six months and being told this was not possible because they had my work planned out for the next 18 months, minimum.”
As luck would have it, Johnson was met with unexpected success when he asked his recruiter to find him a job that nobody could quite explain. The recruiter obliged with a skittish grin, suggesting ”What about a claims accountant for a professional loss adjuster?”
“It was assessing commercial profit risk and potential loss, which meant using my forensic accountancy skills to quantify business interruption claims,” Johnson says.
“Over the next eight or so years, I built a substantial career in this field, working my way up the ladder with several firms culminating in my appointment as Business Risk Consulting Group Manager for a US-based property risk and business interruption insurance provider. For the first time in my working life, I focused on what might happen in the future rather than always looking back.”
And it was his years of experience analysing the odds that became more valuable than ever during that dark Christmas of self-reflection. “It was the day after Boxing Day when I seriously sat down to consider my next move,” Johnson says.
“I thought to myself I can go back a life leading me to moderate-income for all my days of hard work, or I could concentrate on opportunities, particularly in mineral resources, in the very subdued market of the time?
“My collective experience and qualifications of analysing balance sheets forensically and companies super-fast meant I was able to assess everything by common factors within a few working days.”
Johnson, who has invested over half a million pounds in Power Metals since his portfolio peaked in 2011, says he’s managed to find plenty of upside through his career and personal life and is excited about the future. “I suppose the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is when it comes to your life, career or playing the stock market, is you need to be patient.
“In the downtimes, the temptation may be to pull back and dispose of your position. Things look better, and you jump in and take more on in all the excitement.”
Specifically referring to the resources sector when he offered the following advice, Paul Johnson says: “Instead of routing out the undervalued resource shares, and when the rerate comes, take money off the “resources” table, and put it somewhere else. Easy to suggest and crippling hard to do.”
About Power Metal Resources
Power Metal is an AIM-listed metals exploration company financing and managing global resource projects and is seeking large scale metal discoveries. The company focuses on offering district-scale potential across a global portfolio, including precious and base metal exploration in North America, Africa and Australia. Project interests range from early-stage greenfield exploration to later-stage prospects currently subject to drill programmes.
Power Metal seeks to develop projects internally or through strategic joint ventures until the project becomes ready for disposal through outright sale or separate listing on a recognised stock exchange, thereby crystallising the value generated from our internal exploration and development work. The value, generated through disposals, is deployed internally to drive the company’s growth or may be returned to shareholders through share buybacks, dividends or in-specie distributions of assets.
The company’s London Stock Exchange-listed share price was £1.9 British pounds today (9:47 am GMT+8 hours)