The greatest “loophole” is women themselves. Women have to understand why they need financial planning and be very clear about what it can do for them – whether it is saving for retirement or sending a child to college. Once you know what you want, you’ll be motivated to seek information, do research and ask the right questions.
However, I find that women often rely on financial advisers telling them what to do. For example, a financial adviser may advise you to accumulate $3 million in cash by age 65 in order to retire comfortably. Some women panic when they hear this enormous sum and wonder how they could ever reach this goal. Instead we should ask ourselves: Is $3 million realistic for me? What kind of retirement lifestyle do I really want and how should I prepare myself for it? In other words, do your homework, think deeply about what retirement means to you, and then match your money actions with your dreams.
What strengths and weaknesses do you have and what have you done with them?
I’ve always had a curious and enquiring mind. Whenever I encounter a problem or weakness in myself – whether it is personal, career or financial – I always ask “Why?” I would read widely and look for answers and spiritual insights to help me understand the issue from different angles. My interest in always wanting to dig deeper to help myself and others, led me to study psychotherapy and ultimately starting MoneyFitCoach.com, after 14 years as a financial adviser. I want to be an agent of change, rather than an agent of financial products.
What do you want to achieve?
As a Money Fitness Coach, I really want to help women be more confident, proactive and mindful about managing their finances. As women, there’s a lot that we have to learn and unlearn about money. Most of us, have been brought up in a very traditional way, to think of managing money and investments as a man’s job – men earn while women shop. This unwillingness to engage with our money puts us at the mercy of irresponsible husbands who walk out on us, bad bosses who don’t pay fairly, and con artists who cheat us. It’s time that women start reclaiming their power over money and stop being Cinderellas or Sleeping Beauties!
Did you use a mentor and why?
I was very fortunate to be coached by my mentor, Karen McCall of Financial Recovery Institute, who has been a pioneer in financial counselling in USA since 1998, and who has helped thousands of women to improve their relationship with money and rise above their financial circumstances. I went through Karen’s holistic money coaching process and was struck by how effective it is in giving me clarity in managing my own finances. It is this coaching process that I’ll be introducing in MoneyFitCoach.
How do you beat the stress?
I believe that we all need a certain amount of stress. There’s healthy stress that makes you jump out of bed eager to start the day because you believe in what you do and you’re excited and full of energy. I’m now experiencing the joyful stress of starting MoneyFitCoach – a business that I believe in. When I need to recharge, I go for a walk or go to an art studio to paint. I’ll never be a full time artist – I paint because this is my creative outlet. We all need one, because I believe that when we engage in creative self expression, we can handle our worries and stress so much better.
How do you connect to people?
I join several business networking groups for women entrepreneurs and I’m also active in Toastmasters – a public speaking association. I’m not an extrovert or life-of-the-party, but I do enjoy interacting with people, finding common interests and making friends. Not only do I keep in touch with friends from childhood, but I constantly discover new connections in surprising ways. There was a marketing consultant who visited my previous company and it turned out that we were schoolmates who used to travel on the same school bus when we were age 6 and 7! She is now one of my best friends.
Your thoughts on offline and online marketplaces in your industry
When I was a young working woman, the internet didn’t exist and there was no social media. Our marketplace, knowledge and area of influence was confined to our local borders. Now, in whatever industry or business we are in, women have access to a global market and we can tap on the brains, knowledge and expertise of a much wider global community. The internet has made it possible for us to work from home and find greater work-life balance. There’s more competition of course, but also more opportunities. That’s why this is an exciting time for women to really spread their wings both professionally and personally. Women must stop limiting themselves by thinking that they don’t have the money, they don’t have the knowledge and they don’t have the support to succeed in life. Help is everywhere. All it takes is courage to reach out and the willingness to learn.