I started in the financial industry at the age of 16 and worked my way from a cashier to the first black female chartered financial planner in the UK.
The banking sector was fast-paced but offered generous support. Age wasn’t a factor back then; you were judged more on your work ethic, so I was no different from anyone else, despite being young. It taught me self-discipline and to focus.
I worked hard and progressed through various roles from cashier, personal banker to mortgage adviser until I attained my dream role - financial adviser at the age of 21.
The higher I climbed the corporate ladder, the fewer women, and people of colour I saw
It was a struggle and a fight to stand out and be seen or heard.
At this point in my career, I first noticed the lack of diversity in financial services - I was one of two black females in the bank, which comprised hundreds of financial advisers. I stood against all the odds; young, a female, and black was unheard of in the industry.
However, one thing remained true - my passion for the profession - which was always deeply rooted in helping others. There were moments when clients would question my level of experience due to my age. However, my commitment to them always won them over. I took the time to understand their needs and ensured I always presented them with unique solutions, which helped to build solid relationships.
After 11 years in the banking sector, I decided to launch my financial advisory practice to achieve a better work/life balance.
Even though considerable time had passed by then, there was little change in diversity and inclusion in the industry. I became the first black female to set up a practice in a well-established FTSE 100-billion-pound company. Again, the environment was male-dominated, and there was no one who looked like me who I could gain insight from or guide me - I had little knowledge of running a business.
However, I was determined to succeed and took each challenge one by one. The learnings from this are what I share with others - the challenges inspired me to be a face and voice for young females from all backgrounds and races wanting to embark on a career in finance because it’s such a rewarding profession.
Bridging the diversity and inclusion gap
The lack of representation, diversity, and inclusion in finance can mean many women don't see financial planning as a viable career option.
However, this is changing, and to support that I mentor young females and provide yearly intern opportunities. Many young people don't see an opportunity into the world of finance, which makes it difficult for graduates to enter the profession.
Often, they need support in understanding the various roles available and the qualities, skills, and qualifications needed to be successful. These aren’t discussed or explored in university, even for finance graduates. I help by providing insight into the unknown and explain what they can expect. I also help them to identify the bumps they may encounter along the way.
Spreading the message
My podcast Your Financial Journey also supports my mission and determination to demystify financial planning to make it accessible for all. You’ll find me interviewing guests who have had success in their career paths and professions.
They share their journeys and highlight the highs and lows and everything in between. It's important that people see the real picture of financial success and not just the glitz and glam. The podcast aims to encourage those to face their financial fears and aim for financial freedom – Episode 5: in particular, focuses on what it takes to be a sought-after financial adviser!
I’m a big believer in balance and would love to see more females enter the financial profession.
Financial planning is much more about relationships and trust than money, and these are great qualities women possess. It’s also a role you can adapt around family and create a work-life balance suited to your needs. Best of all it offers the rewarding feeling of helping others meet their financial goals.
These are just some reasons why I’m passionate about encouraging more women to get into the profession and I hope it helps them become successful financial planners.