Welcome to this week’s episode. Today I’d love to share with you what I’ve been up to over the last two weeks. In episode five of the series I spoke with Neil Bage, who is a behavioural finance expert, about a two week tour that he and I were about to embark upon along with some other incredible speakers. I’ve literally just returned from that tour, which was the Illuminate tour with a company called Nucleus, who are an investment platform for financial advisors. We started off the tour in Belfast last Tuesday, and we went from Belfast to London, London to Birmingham, and then this week we’ve been in Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow. I learned some really interesting facts about both Glasgow and Leeds and had some awesome people attending the workshops and the speaker events.
It was just an absolutely incredible couple of weeks. It’s been so much fun, and I wanted to share with you what I have learned; first of all by throwing myself out there and doing something that was a little bit uncomfortable for me, and also some of the things that I was teaching.
What did I cover in my Illuminate speaker sessions?
I delivered an hour long workshop a couple of times every day, and the first thing that I wanted to do was to get the profession talking about the benefits of financial coaching. We kicked off the presentation thinking about what the impact is that a financial coach can have on managing client’s behaviours and helping them to stay on track, rather than necessarily just focusing on the outcomes in terms of recommendations and products. It was really interesting. There were quite a lot of advisers already in the groups that were practising the concepts of financial coaching, which is wonderful to hear. It’s big part of my mission to help other financial advisers to progress and implement financial coaching into their businesses. I believe, with the power of financial education combined with the ability to help manage our behaviours around money, that’s where we’re going to get some total transformation for people.
I then I went on to talk a bit about my own personal story and how that really impacted the work that I was doing many years ago as a financial advisor. I talked about how it made me think about how I connected with clients. I’ve talked about my personal story on previous podcasts, and I will go into it in more detail in future episodes, but what was great was that it really resonated with some of the audience and helped them think about how much jargon we are guilty sometimes of using in our professional careers. And not just in the financial sector, in many professions.
One of the things I talked about was when my son Thomas was born, he was very, very poorly. The result of the medical jargon being used with me at that particular time meant I felt very stupid, and it made me really think about how we suffer with a ‘curse of knowledge’. We’ve often been in our professions for a long time and we’re so used to the jargon and the language of that particular profession. Certainly in the financial services profession, even simple concepts and words like pensions, drawdown, the stock market, stock market indices, the FTSE 100 active funds, passive funds; we’re very used to using that jargon because, like me, many of us have been doing it for a long time.
The Iceberg Effect
Do we have to be mindful of the language are we using?
Are we to an extent suffering with this curse of knowledge and forgetting sometimes that not everybody has the same level of knowledge around these terms as we do? This was a really interesting point of conversation, and we went from there to talking about our personal influences and also cultural influences and how those impact how we feel about money.
Culture and Money
We went on to talk about what British Culture teaches us about money. It was very interesting because obviously there were different cultural beliefs, for example Irish history and culture versus British versus Scottish. British culture typically tells us that hard work equals success.
That comes from our history. When we had the very clearly defined British aristocracy and divides between the rich and the poor. If you wanted to have any value in society, you had to be wealthy. And what that British culture taught us is that you have to be wealthy to be successful and to be valued in society. What happens is these cultural beliefs then get intertwined with things like media influence and magazine influence, social media and books that we read, and even religion. Often this sits in our subconscious, so we’re not necessarily always aware of it, but actually if we were to just look at our behaviours, it really affects our subconscious beliefs.
One of the campaigns that I love that really focuses and draws attention around this kind of cultural belief system that we exist in was a campaign that was run by Starling Bank called Make Money Equal. What Starling Bank did is some research around some of the different language that was used towards men and women about money. It’s really interesting to see that some of the language that was used towards men were words like impress, money, power, fame, capital. For example “Invest your bonus to get ahead”, or “Put the pedal down on your future and invest in a classic car”. They are very status driven messages all about power, fame, and control.
Conversely the language that was used towards women were things like “Reign in your spending habits”, and “Saving pennies, hints and tips”. This research really made me think about what impact that has on us. What impact does it have on us to hear phrases like that as women? These, to me, are very frugal messages, rather than messages about being very good with money. What’s even more interesting is that there’s actually lots of research that shows that women are very good with money. Research shows that women make very good investors, because once we’ve made the decision to invest we tend to stick to those decisions. We’re far less likely to jump in and out of the market in uncalculated or rash ways.
Social media & young people
Naturally, social media influences came up when we talked about culture, and particularly we talked about the impact that has on young people. It’s all about that Instagram life, that perfect filtered life. What impact does that have on our kids growing up and what values and messages does that tell them about money? And really interesting actually. We had a very open discussion during the workshops about children and the belief that they are growing up in a world where everything is instant, and it was this idea of instant gratification that really resonated with a lot of the audience members who have teenage children.
The Childhood Exercise
I asked the workshop participants to answer one particular question, which for those of you that follow the podcast will know that I ask all of my guests to answer; “What is your earliest experience of money?” I gave each group a couple of minutes to answer the question, and it was really fascinating to hear some of their stories. Many of their stories were based around a couple of key money blocks.
- Money doesn’t grow on trees
- Burying your head in the sand (or that money was not talked about in the house)
There were very few instances of money being abundant, or there being an abundance of wealth in the household or even of being spoiled. There were certainly more people in the audience that heard these common messages about money not growing on trees, or simply not talking about money at all. What was really interesting for me is that this concept of burying your head in the sand or money doesn’t grow on trees, is what sets us up for a scarcity mindset. If money doesn’t grow on trees, what does that teach us about money?
It teaches us that it’s not easy to come by, that we have to work hard for our money. We fear it, or feel like we’re on this treadmill of work, work, work, and we have to work harder because money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s hard to come by. That puts us subconsciously into scarcity mindset. So we talked about how we can challenge that belief, and I left the audience with three steps.
- What are you gaining from holding onto that belief that you have subconsciously formed in your childhood? The benefits of having some of these beliefs might be that you work hard. You were told that money doesn’t grow on trees, therefore you work really hard for your money, and that’s a really good benefit. It’s important to start with the benefits because we too easily beat ourselves up.
- Now flip that, and look at what the challenges are that you face as a result of having that belief. If that belief is money doesn’t grow on trees, what is the challenge of having that belief? It could be, for example, that I feel like I have to work almost too hard. I’m on this constant treadmill, working 20 hours a day, not spending enough time at home with my family, or not taking any time for myself because I feel like I can’t or shouldn’t stop. Really steps 1 & 2 are to help you to think about what it would feel like if you thought the opposite of what you now believe about money. So if you changed your attitude to one of abundance, a belief that there is enough money and it comes to you easily, how would that impact your life?
- The final step is thinking about what needs to happen for you to make this change in thoughts and beliefs happen. There’s a lot of things to explore around the periphery of these steps, but essentially if you can work yourself through those steps, you’ll start to feel that you’re challenging some of those self beliefs, and maybe even just bringing them up to the surface. For many people just being aware of them can be enough to start to think about changing their relationship with money.
What I really wanted to do was to get other financial advisors to be practicing some of those questions with their audience and clients, and rather than just thinking about building awesome financial plans for people, how can we take that to another level? How can we help people? How can they help their clients to manage their emotions and behaviours around money? Because essentially, for many of us, the key is that our behaviours and our emotions that hold us back. We know what we should be doing, but we’re fearful of making that step because of something that’s holding us back.
This brings me on to how being involved with this tour really helped me to challenge some of my own fears. A major thing that I learned is to say yes and think about it later. When I first got the call to go on the speaker tour in January, I’d just come out of hospital having been really poorly. I could barely talk, and I just remember saying yes and putting down the phone and thinking, “Oh my gosh, have I got the confidence to deliver four one hour sessions every single day for two weeks?” But I just said yes.
It made me think about how this relates to money and how we make decisions around money, but also how we make decisions around business. How many times do you say no to things because you don’t have the self belief and confidence or believe that you can do it, and how often does this relate to money? How often do we not get started with something because fear and emotion holds us back? So my take away is just get started. Get started and figure it out later. Particularly when it comes to things like investing; don’t worry too much about the nitty gritty detail because once you get started you’ll then get more interested in the minor details and naturally increase your knowledge.
I believe that everybody has the ability to make good financial decisions, but often it’s the behaviours and the emotions that actually hold us back. If you follow the basic steps that I’ve been teaching you in this podcast series, that will help you to avoid making some of the mistakes and falling into traps like investment scams, and will help you to feel confident in yourself and your own ability.
Free 5 Day Plug Your Money Leaks Challenge
With that in mind, I want to leave you with some information about a free five day challenge that I’m going to be running, starting on the 30th of June 2019. The five day challenge is going to help you to start taking some actions around plugging your money leaks. Plugging your money leaks is about managing your mindset and your behaviours around money, as well as the practical steps.
There’s no point in building the most amazing spending plan only to find that you fall off the wagon because you’re not managing the emotions and behaviours that are actually getting in the way of you following that plan.
The challenge is going to be held within Facebook and there’ll be a challenge for you to do each day. We will kick off on Sunday the 30th of June at 8pm with a live on Facebook to introduce the challenge, then the challenge itself will start from Monday the 1st of July for five days. The best bit is that it’s totally free!
I don’t know when I’m going to run this challenge again, so please do join and take advantage of having that space to join other women who are going through exactly the same challenges as you. I’m really excited to share with you five simple, easy things that you can do to try and get more confidence with money, more control over your spending habits, to remove some of that financial fog, and help you gain some clarity.
All you need to do to join the challenge is register your details here, totally free of charge.
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Starling Bank Campaign – Make Money Equal
5 Day Plug Your Money Leaks Challenge – Join Now!