Empowering and Encouraging Women in Finance: an interview with Mary Waring of

Mary Waring is an independent financial advisor (IFA) specialising in advice to women, and particularly women going through divorce as well as the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Wealthy Woman: a Man Is Not A Financial Plan.

How did you get into this. Did you train straight out of school/Uni or was it a more roundabout journey?

After university, I actually trained to be a chartered accountant, and I worked as a finance director up until 2005. At that stage, I generally decided that I didn’t want to be employed anymore, but wanted to be self-employed.  Initially I trained as a mortgage advisor and in 2010 trained as an IFA.

Can you explain what a typical day for you might be?

All my days are very different which makes for a very varied business.  I conduct the majority of my meetings face-to-face at my client’s homes. Because my clients tend to feel rather uncomfortable with finance, I feel that if I can visit them at their home where they’re more relaxed, it’ll be a much easier meeting. So my day may involve meetings, following up on advice or general networking or marketing.

Why financial advice around Divorce in particular?

It’s not because women need different advice to men, but my clients tend to be ladies who haven’t looked after the finance during the period of the marriage, or they generally don’t feel comfortable with finance.  So although they don’t need different advice to men, they often need a different approach, maybe a bit of hand holding and looking after.

What’s your experience from a women’s point of view. Would you say it is a good job for a woman?

Yes, this is a fantastic job for females! Sadly, the financial services industry is very male dominated. Only about 10% of advisors are female. The typical financial advisor is male, middle-aged, grey hair, grey suit. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but that just is not going to suit everyone. Building a strong financial advice business is all about having a good relationship with your client. It’s about being able to put your client at ease, and ask the appropriate questions so you can get as much detail as possible as to what it is they really want to achieve. For a female who feels they’re good with people, they’re good with building rapport, and asking questions, this is a fantastic job for females.  Sadly, there are a large number of exams to get through and that is a downside to joining the profession.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering this profession?

It may be appropriate for someone just entering the profession to join a company at the stage of what’s called a para-planner. A para-planner does the research, and gets involved in the technicalities of financial advice . Going down that route will provide a lot of experience about how a financial plan is put together, and how the whole advice process works. A lot of para-planners then move from their position to financial advice position.

What’s your best financial advice for any woman

Take control of your finances, and don’t rely on a partner. The person who will benefit most from financial planning is you. If you don’t take responsibility for it, it’s unlikely anyone else will do it for you with the same level of commitment.