The £ factor: Simon Cowell named celeb most want to help boost finances


A recent survey has found that 18-24 year olds are the group most interested in saving for retirement; despite the fact that many in this age group are saddled with growing levels of debt from studying, such as student loans.

When asked who they would seek financial advice from the people taking part in the survey cited Simon Cowell as the celebrity that people are most likely to take financial advice from; Sarah Ferguson is the least likely to be asked.

Known for his high-waisted trousers, black cashmere jumpers and blunt criticism, Cowell has become one of the richest men in show business.

The ultimate star of ‘The X-Factor’ Cowell has proved that he is not just an icon on the screen but he is also responsible for turning what is essentially a televised karaoke contest into a global moneymaking phenomenon.

Cowell has also recently been named the highest-earning personality on American television, an accolade he shares with radio shock-jock Howard Stern. According to Forbes, Cowell (and Stern) earned £61m in the 12 months up until June 2013.

Boyband One Direction has made a major contribution to Cowell’s coffers in the last year. He put the group together after the five boys entered ‘The X-Factor’ as solo singers in 2010. Although they didn’t win, the group is arguably the biggest act to come out of the reality show, prompting hysteria from teenage girls wherever they go.

But he didn’t just put them together and walk away. One Direction is signed to Syco Music, the joint venture between Cowell and Sony Music. A shrewd move by Cowell means Syco has the exclusive right to sign all the winners and finalists of ‘The X Factor’ and the ‘Got Talent’ franchises. Artists on Syco’s books currently include Leona Lewis, Olly Murs, One Direction, Cher Lloyd, Little Mix and James Arthur.

Cowell hasn’t always picked winners. After working in talent spotting and artist management at music firm EMI, he set up his own record label called Fanfare in 1984. For a while he lived the dream – driving flash cars and being seen at all the right parties. But Fanfare collapsed in 1989 and Cowell, almost bankrupt, was forced to move back in with his parents in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

He clawed his way back in the music industry by puppets Zig and Zag and singing duo Robson and Jerome as well as other acts including Curiosity Killed The Cat and Sonia.

There were key lessons here, firstly that you can make money from “novelty” acts as well as genuine talent and secondly that picking people already famous from television makes selling their records a lot easier.

Image: Helga Esteb /