3 female financial advisors on imposter syndrome, female investment

Davinia Tomlinson is the CEO and founder of RainChq, an organisation set up to help women take control of their finances. She has 15 years experience within the investment management and professional services industries.

New stats show 47% of young women have had their mental health affected by financial worries…but only 12% would ask for help from a financial advisor. So, we decided to talk to five of the UK’s best female financial advisors themselves, to see what nuggets of fiscal wisdom they can share, and exactly why we really should be going to see them.

I started my career in the investment management industry and was immediately captivated by the transformational power of finance in improving outcomes for people from a variety of different backgrounds. While the industry for many is synonymous with the super wealthy, in my view it is uniquely positioned to educate, advise and inspire people to take action that will ultimately improve their quality of life. RainChq was born out of my desire to work exclusively with women in recognition of the various gaps we face which hamper us financially.

I think the very alpha male nature of the financial advice industry is a big driver behind women being reluctant to seek advice. Money is such a personal subject that it is vital you are able to speak to someone with whom you have things in common and can ultimately relate. This is not to say a woman can’t relate to a man, but given some of the unique financial challenges women face, it can be a huge game changer speaking to someone who can empathise from a personal perspective.

Another challenge of course is that as women we can sometimes be our own worst enemies and allow imposter syndrome to eat us for breakfast! In the end it just means we opt out of things that could really help us get to the next level in our lives. The reality is that the whole point of financial advice is to help people build and preserve wealth so there should be options for everyone.

To be a great financial advisor, especially for women, is to be someone who is relatable, accessible and ‘human’ and really gets to the heart of the issues you face without judgment or condescension. And most importantly perhaps, someone who gives you full confidence that together you can achieve your financial, and ultimately your life goals.

Paula Greenan is a Senior Financial Planning Manager at Santander, based in Glasgow

Since working in the industry, I have supported a good mix of women and men. I think some younger women might not ask for financial advice because they tend not to be the main financial provider for their family, or their focus is on juggling their job with looking after their children therefore simply do not have the time to focus on their finances.

I suspect that some women might be put off because they have made the incorrect assumption that if they were to get financial advice, they would be walking into a very formal financial setting, predominantly made up of men, and there would be a lot of complex discussions about investment. This is definitely not the case! There are different ways you can get financial advice – you can go into an office, or, if you prefer the comfort of your own home, you can speak to a financial adviser by phone or video call. And there are lot of female financial advisers around – they aren’t all men.

I suspect that a lot of women might incorrectly think that financial advisers would only help them if they had hundreds of thousands of pounds to invest. This is so wrong! Santander’s Digital Investment Adviser lets you invest just £20 a month and it’s designed for people who have never invested before. Increasing numbers of women are investing. At Santander, women under 30 are our fastest growing customer group on our other digital investment platform, the Investment Hub. In fact, women represent almost 50% of customers who use it.

What I have noticed about my female customers, is that they have good attention to detail and a strong understanding of their finances. This gives them a realistic understanding of how much money they can afford to risk investing. Women also tend to be more likely to stick with the financial plan over the years than men. All of these things could potentially give them the edge over men when it comes to the performance of their investments.

Holly Mackay has worked in the investment industry for over 20 years and is the founder and MD of Boring Money, a company dedicated to explaining financial investments and decisions in an easy, accessible and less ‘boring’ way.

There are a few fossils around who treat you with less respect and resent any success. But I’ve also had a few male mentors who see the gaps in the industry and have gone out of their way to support me. I think it comes down to confidence. So I just ignore being the only woman in the room on some occasions, and just march in and get on with it.

It doesn’t surprise me that women don’t ask for financial advice. All our research indicates that women are more likely to equate risk with doing something that they do not understand. This can be good because it can prevent expensive mistakes. But it can be bad because it means that more women sit on the sidelines, with cash earning 0% interest, doing nothing because they can’t afford to see a traditional adviser.

Plus, financial advisers are still visualised as blokes who are going to rip you off. As well as the lack of trust about charges, I think most women have been talked down to at some point by a man in a suit, and the thought of getting a lecture from someone enthusiastically mansplaining money is more than many of us can bear!

Good financial advice has to be relatable. We need to see that people like us are doing this. Other women – with competing financial pressures, who might not feel that rich, who feel bad at maths, who have about 3 spare minutes a week, and who don’t think that they ‘look like an investor’. Good investing doesn’t need to be complicated. You don’t need to own a bowler hat. You don’t need to pretend to be interested in the Chinese debt bubble or the oil price. The industry needs to stop trying to sound like Heston Blumenthal and get a bit more Jamie Oliver. Make things a bit more ‘spag bol’ and less ‘Jerusalem artichoke’!

Sara Quince, is a Financial Planning Manager at Nationwide and has over twenty years of experience in financial services.

I knew I wanted to be a Financial Planning Manager the minute I started working at Nationwide aged 19. It was so clear that this role had the ability to really change lives and help dreams come true. I got the job of Financial Planning Manager at the age of 21 and, at the time, I was the youngest financial adviser at Nationwide, and amongst a very small number of female advisors overall.

However, Nationwide has always invested in its people, and unlike other places where it’s heavily male dominated, I’ve always had woman figures around me. I was so fortunate that the person who hired me saw my potential, and this helped me to become the top financial adviser across the UK at Nationwide for many years in a row now.

I’m a little shocked by the statistics about women seeking financial advice. I do think traditionally men have taken more of the control on the finances. However, I feel that times are changing, and more women are having careers now, so hopefully this will give them more confidence to seek advice. I generally see clients as a couple, but what I am finding is women are more vocal in meetings, which is really encouraging to see.

As a child I used to think Financial Advisers were a little scary. I used to think they would talk lots of jargon that nobody understood. They were for the wealthy and they were expensive people to see, possibly a little untrustworthy too. The way I approach financial advice is in the simplest way, from my language, to taking the time to educate and show people how to do things and having patience. I think some advisers provide advice which is baffling and sounds too complicated, so puts people off, especially women.

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