One of my favourite parts of the job is public speaking. I love watching people’s reaction as the penny drops and the often complex world of personal finance starts to fit into place.
I talk to all sorts of groups (small and large) and I never fail to get something out of it personally and to learn something new.
At a recent talk for ‘She’s on The Money’, which runs events and workshops for women, I learnt never to judge an audience. When I was asked to talk I was told it would be to a group of young women. The lazy part of me just wanted to head home at the end of a tiring day but I am glad I did the talk because in reality it was a club of entrepreneurs.
It often feels like our profession talks about hunting down those ultra-high-net-worth clients and focusing on people who are close to retirement when considering ideal target clients. But young, engaged women are not a demographic to be overlooked.
The event was packed with 150 women, from recent graduates to those in their early 40s. The women seemed to come from all different backgrounds and work across all industries, although banking did stand out as the most common one. They were all there because they were motivated to learn about money.
The group is run by an Australian millennial called Molly. She is smart, knows how to get her point across gently and her background in event management really showed. The bubbles were flowing and right from the start there was no awkwardness that you would usually associate with an event where people do not really know each other.
When I began speaking I could tell this was going to be one of the easiest talks I had done. They were such an engaging group of women who were so interested (and interesting). The presentation became more like a group discussion and we covered so much ground.
I started with the basics to gauge the audience’s appetite: budgeting, how much cash to have in the bank, and what protection needs you have at different milestones. We quickly moved on to retirement planning, how pension and investment portfolios are built up, pound cost averaging and we finished on financial goal-setting. I was amazed at how much these women were absorbing and their enthusiasm for the subject.
These women wanted to know how they would financially juggle maternity leave. They wanted to know what they needed to do now to get their dream flat (and then house) and, as a lot of them had already had quite a few jobs, there were lots of pension consolidation questions.
The group felt very inclusive, everyone was given the opportunity to ask questions and even the quieter people in the room felt brave enough to put their hands up. The questions were well considered and the note-taking was almost frantic.
After the event, there was a queue of women all waiting to tell me their stories and what they wanted to achieve. Their enthusiasm was contagious. There were 25-year-olds earning more than £500,000 a year, bloggers making a killing and one woman who had crowdfunded hundreds of thousands of pounds for her cancer treatment. Best of all, there was an editor from Penguin, who has just commissioned me to write a book.
I even took on some women as clients after the event. They have already been a joy to work with, are determined and have taken their financial planning seriously.
I have been astonished too at how often they recommend me to their friends too. They are definitely tomorrow’s leaders and I look forward to growing my business at the same time as they grow their careers.
Lisa Conway-Hughes is a chartered financial planner at Westminster Wealth.