INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVISOR, CFP – CONSCIOUS MONEY
Cleona, please tell us about what you do, how you ended up doing this and why you are passionate about your work.
I am an Independent Financial Advisor based in London – my office is based in the City, I am a Chartered Financial Planner which is a widely accepted “gold standard” for financial advisers in the United Kingdom. My work is deeply fulfilling because it helps me bring together my passions for Psychology and Money. I have always enjoyed talking about investments and now with my own practice, I have a deeper purpose in my work – I help people to become conscious of their relationship with money – how they spend, earn, save, and invest, rather than be driven by unconscious beliefs or cultural conditioning. I care deeply about inspiring people to have more freedom and integrity with money choices. I also teach workshops on ‘Conscious Money’ which are a lot of fun. Money can be a heavy topic and I aim to make the financial planning process as easy and painless as possible.
Tell us about your greatest achievement
I find it hard to think in terms of greatest achievement. I will say that I feel proud that I bring my authentic self to work and choose to relate to my clients and colleagues in an authentic manner, not behind some professional facade. Most of all, I value the relationships that I have built with my clients.
What would your advice be to someone thinking of entering finance as a profession?
My advice would be to find someone with a strong network of friends and colleagues in Finance and speak to different people – as there are so many aspects to it. If you are a female especially, we need more financial advisers in the UK so do come and join. I would love to see more diversity in our profession too- the average financial adviser in the UK as you may know, is white, male and age 55.
What is your experience of the finance industry from a woman’s point of view? Would you say it is a good career choice for a woman?
My experience has been fairly positive. I do have a very good support network of friends, outside of finance – which is valuable to stay resilient, regardless of your gender.Yes, finance is a good career choice for a woman. Any career choice that a woman wants to work at is a good choice. Finance is still male dominated in the UK however if you are competent and good at what you do, nothing can stop you.
What’s your best financial advice for any woman?
Women are actually better at investing than men, research has shown. However, we are lagging behind in investing & tend to be cash biased for various reasons. My advice is to empower yourself with financial literacy skills. Read your investment/pension valuation statements, google any terms you don’t understand, fill your Feedly with interesting personal finance reading material, call your pension providers help-desk and ask them to explain or help you with reading material to help you understand what you are reading- be persistent with this. Google Trustnet and the names of the funds you are invested in and train your eyes to visually read the information – information is so easily available and you can train yourself to read this if you are willing to persist through some initial discomfort if you feel incompetent.
You could also speak to someone you know who is financially more literate than you and ask if they are willing to mentor you. I encourage you to advocate for your own needs – for financial literacy and healthy financial choices. There are so many resources available, you don’t always need a financial adviser necessarily to understand what you are invested in or what the overall value of your pension pot is. And by the way, even highly intelligent, competent finance professionals that I have worked with as clients tend not to look at their pension or investment statements or necessarily take the time to understand them. So, I really want to reassure you that if you have a clear intention and follow through with an action, you can easily overcome this hurdle.