Weekly Local Biography

  Alan Hall

By: Elle Faraday

Most people who are reading this will know Alan Hall from his column in the Chiangmai Mail. There is, however, a lot more to Alan than just his column and I had the chance to get to know him better and to discuss life in Thailand, SOS and the Expats’ Club.
Since arriving in Chiang Mai five years ago, Alan has been an exceptionally active member of the expat community. He has been working as a financial advisor for MBMG International for 2ฝ years and also runs his own foundation known as SOS. He is heavily involved in the Chiang Mai Expats’ Club and can often be seen at charity events being held across the city. His weekly column in the Chiangmai Mail is very popular, so popular, in fact, his column also runs in the Pattaya Mail. He writes this during the limited free time that he has and manages to produce a column week in, week out. (Ed’s note: Due to space restrictions, we have temporarily had to discontinue his column. Look for it to return shortly.)
Alan grew up in Lancashire, England, and it was while he was here that he developed an interest in finance. “I started off as a mechanic and used to help my dad out who offered door-to-door financial services. He developed a bad back and I used to collect the premiums for him.” Alan started to get really interested in finance, even going so far as to give his friends financial advice. “They would come to me and ask my advice so I would speak to my dad and help them as much as I could.” It wasn’t long before he realised that he no longer wanted to be a mechanic and got his first job in financial services. He was working for Allied Dunbar in the UK, which is where he learned many of the skills that he still uses today. “I was taught to always be open and honest, something which I still swear by today.”
Alan has been married to his wife Dam for eight years and together they have a son, Mark. Thai born Dam was studying at university in England when Alan met her and it was not long before they were married. They moved to Thailand where they have made a home for themselves and their son. It is not hard to see how much he dotes on his family; Alan involves both Dam and Mark in everything he does. “I always make sure I’ve got time to spend with them regardless of what we do. Sometimes we’ll go out for meals, we’ll go on day trips, spend time at home - it doesn’t matter as long as we spend time together.”
He has been working for MBMG for 2ฝ years and is the first to say that the reason why he accepted the job with them is because “without doubt, it’s the premier finance company in Thailand.” He spends his time working between Chiang Mai and Pattaya, which unfortunately means that he has to be away from his family for a lot of the time, but he always makes sure he makes up for it when he gets back to Chiang Mai. “We spend our weekends as a family, visiting various places and experiencing various things.”
He has a very honest approach to the way he conducts his business, often giving advice which is not always financially beneficial for him. He would rather do the right thing by people - something which is not always the case in the financial services industry. “I will always be very honest when it comes to finding the right investments for people. After all, it’s often their life savings that their entrusting with me. I would hope that someone would do the same for me if I was in a similar position.”
SOS is a non profit organisation set up by Alan to help those in need when they really need it. It is member-based and offers 24 hour assistance, regardless of whether it is legal, medical or organisational. On one of his trips to Pattaya, he met the man who had developed a similar idea there and told me “I saw that and knew that it was just what the expats of Chiang Mai needed.” He came back to Chiang Mai and put the foundations in place. Four months later, it is a growing organisation with over 90 members. The 24 hour emergency helpline will always be answered by his wife or a colleague who are both fluent in Thai. Depending on the situation, lawyers can be arranged and help and advice are given. He told me, “If you’re an expat living in Thailand, it can be terrifying if something happens to you. We’re there to help and to offer peace of mind.”
Alan is an active member of the Expats’ Club and serves on the group’s executive committee as well as being the charities director. He attends every meeting and can always be seen afterwards chatting to the members and trying to help with any problems they might have. “The Expats’ Club is a great way for people to meet new friends. For some, the meetings are one of the few chances to socialise with friends.” He is a well known and respected figure of the expat community, providing invaluable resources to many people.
Since arriving in Thailand, Alan has thrown himself 100 percent into expat life. He has somehow managed to find a balance between working full time, spending quality time with his family, running his own organisation and being on the board of directors at Expats’ Club. Not many people could balance all of these things. He helps expats out when they most need it as well as providing financial services which they might not otherwise receive, but his one passion in life is without doubt his family. The love he has for his family came through more than anything else while I was speaking to him.