I was very fortunate to spend part of my childhood growing up in Singapore which has given me a much broader perspective of the world we live in. Moving around as I did when I was younger allowed me to see a variety of cultures and allowed me to meet many different people which I believe has shaped the person who I have become today. I now live in Harrogate in Yorkshire and have been working as an investment manager for just over 16 years. The work that I do is extensive, allowing me to continue to meet a wide range of individuals from various different backgrounds. Everyone that I work with has goals and ambitions which I help them to achieve through managing their investments. I am extremely lucky to have built up close relationships with my clients over many years and this is perhaps the best part of being an investment manager – looking after individuals and their families.
Absolutely not. I had always wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger and that was the path which I tried to take. What I really did not understand, and what is not really taught in schools, is just how competitive it is to get into the world of law. Exams were never my strong suit and with a 2.2 degree in Law, many firms would have binned my CV, concentrating on those students who had at least a 2.1 or first in their degree. As a result, I needed to be more adaptable in getting into the world of work and it was here that I got my first job as a PA to a senior partner in a law firm in Leeds.
My rationale for this approach was to get myself into a firm with the intention of getting real world experience of law and eventually take those first steps on the legal career ladder. The trouble is patience was never my strong suit; I still wanted to help people and felt that opportunities were passing me by. However, working in a Private Client Law firm gave me exposure to the world of investment management, a career which I had never previously considered and which I did not know anything about. It was because of the close ties this law firm had with an investment management firm that I was able to get an interview with them and so began my journey in the world of investments.
Spearheading Quilter Cheviot’s Advising Female Clients initiative nationally. I have always had a passion for helping women with their finances, but I had previously felt limited in what I could do in bringing about meaningful change. For years I had been told that the concept of approaching women differently in relation to their finances was a ‘fad’ and not something that anyone would be interested in. I found this so incredibly narrow minded and extremely frustrating when I knew that there were so many women out there who wanted help with their finances. I believe that many felt they could not approach financial service companies , either out of fear of being thought of as stupid or because too many assumptions were made about what women wanted without anyone really taking the time to understand their specific needs.
This is where the support I have been given from Quilter Cheviot has been so exciting for me personally. I have always loved investment management, but to feel as though you are part of something bigger, being able to create solutions to help make truly meaningful changes to people’s lives through the work that you do is incredibly rewarding. We live in a society where more women are earning their own money and the traditional families structures are increasingly less common. The financial services industry has not been moving fast enough to adapt to this changing narrative. I believe passionately that we need to make investing more accessible to women. To give them financial understanding through education so that they can feel empowered and confident enough to take control of their finances and have a say in how their broader family finances are managed.
Reaching out to women and helping them with managing their investments is only the first part of the equation. One of the things I was acutely aware of when joining the world of investment management is that I was often the only female investment manager in the room. There were even occasions where it was thought that I was simply an assistant there to take notes in a meeting! To further female advancement we need to have more firms looking at women not only as future clients but also as future employees. It is only through having a diverse workforce that different perspectives can be integrated into how we look after the people who come to us for advice.
I believe part of the reason why women’s needs have not really looked at as much in the past was primarily because those at the top implementing business strategies were primarily men. They were therefore viewing the work that they were doing from a man’s perspective. This is not to suggest that they did not have their clients’ best interests at heart but I think it is safe to say that the majority of them would never really understand the impact of things like maternity leave, career breaks to bring up children, or the care of elderly relatives as this was something that was very likely taken care of by their spouses or other female members of their family.
We are shaped by the experiences we have during our lives. This is where having a diverse workforce is not only instrumental in bringing about meaningful change for the next generation of women looking for a career in investment management, but also in making sure that women more broadly take a greater interest and role in their personal finances. It is only through a combination of these two elements that we can help women feel empowered to achieve their own ambitions whatever they may be.
Being vocal in my opinions and staying true to my values. This is something which I have had to learn over time and it has not been an easy process. I was often told in the early part of my career that I was being ‘aggressive’ in my approach when I wanted to voice my opinion. There is a part of me that did wonder whether those sentiments would have been the same if I were a man expressing those same views.
This is where I have had to learn to have confidence in myself and understand that my views do have value. This is not to say that my views will always be right or that what I am putting forward should not adapt and evolve. But in sharing my ideas and asking for help from those more experienced than me, I am able to build out my ambitions for the financial services industry to be more inclusive, not just for women but for all individuals. This is what it is to be successful. It is in sharing your views, ideas and opinions but also being open to receiving ideas, opinions and feedback from others.