FINANCIAL FEMALES: EVELYN SIMPSON

EMPOWERING AND ENCOURAGING WOMEN INTO FINANCE

Evelyn Simpson is a former investment banker. During her tenure with JP Morgan Chase and its predecessor banks, she was corporate finance specialist in London and New York and Hong Kong working with ocean-going shipping companies. During the Asian financial crisis, she worked on corporate restructurings throughout South East Asia before being appointed Chief Operating Officer and board member of Chase Manhattan Asia Limited.

Evelyn currently mentors female entrepreneurs and is an investor in early stage companies. She is a member of Investing Women Angels where she is part of the group’s investment screening panel. You can find out more about Evelyn here.

How did you get into this? Did you attend university, and/or fall straight into a role or was it a more roundabout journey?

My career in finance comes in two parts. My initial landing in finance came after I studied economics and law at the University of Edinburgh. I ended up being hired by a US bank called Manufacturers Hanover which no longer exists as it merged and merged to eventually become JP Morgan Chase. I had a variety of roles mostly doing corporate finance for ocean-going shipping companies, but then did some bankruptcy restructuring work in SE Asia and finally moved into a business management role. After my daughter was born, my husband and I found it too difficult to maintain two globally mobile careers and stay in the same place. I was ready to do something else, so resigned from my banking career.

Part 2 came quite recently after several years out of finance. I repatriated to the UK and started to go to some of the phenomenal events here in Scotland around entrepreneurship. I got connected with and all-women angel investing group and found that I really enjoyed the process of learning about and, in a few cases, investing in early stage companies. I’ve also been helping some early stage companies and have been doing some screening and set up for the angel group.

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

In investment banking, the environment was very intense, particularly when there was a deal in the works. It wasn’t uncommon to “pull an all-nighter” as we used to say to get a transaction done. Personally, I loved the clients and the work that we did to help them grow and sustain their companies. We also did some pretty innovative (at the time) transactions which weren’t being done by other banks working in that industry segment. As someone who was working with clients to win and structure transactions, there really wasn’t a “typical” day. Some days I’d be travelling to meet clients, other in the office working on transactions, and sometimes, as an expert in my field, I’d get to speak at conferences or would write articles for industry press.

Now angel investing is just one thing I do in a portfolio of activities, including coaching. Today, I met with a fellow investor to discuss and investment we both made which needs a bit of course correction. I’m also talking to an entrepreneur who is seeking out investment funding and later in the week, I’m chairing a conference that I got connected with through my angel investment activities. Having not held an office job for a long time, there’s no way I would want to expose myself to the old investment banking deal environment, even though it was great fun at the time.

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

Investment banking is a notoriously alpha-male environment. Its been many years since I was in it and I hope its a bit better now but I think its got a long way to go. Though it was a tough environment in which to establish myself, I found that, once I proved that I knew what I was going, being a woman worked to my advantage as 1) I stood out in an industry sector where most of the bankers and the clients were male and 2) some of my older clients were almost fatherly in the way they dealt with me (maybe I made them think of daughters making their way in the world of work) and I was able to get a hearing when competitors couldn’t. Where the rubber hit the road for me was when our daughter was born. Even though I wasn’t doing deals by then, I was working for a US bank in Hong Kong and was expected to be available for calls at all hours of the day. When I talked to my boss about working part-time, he said it would be OK if I worked in the office 4 days a week and from home on the 5th. That’s when I realised it was time for a change.

With regard to angel investing, its not really a job but it’s great fun. It’s also a pretty heavily male environment – in Scotland, only 5% of angels are women. I’m a member of Investing Women Angels (the only all-female group in Scotland) and though we see and invest in all sorts of companies, we do tend to work with more female-led companies than other groups. I was initially put off by my perception that to be an angel investor, you had to be a squillionaire. However, it turns out that it’s much more accessible that I thought, though it’s very high risk so you can’t invest money you can’t afford to lose.

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

Investment banking – if you like a fast paced intense environment, go for it. It’s a great way to learn a lot about a wide variety of companies and give you a great perspective on how businesses work. It great fun but it’s not for the feint of heart. I hope that investment banks are better now at providing paths for women to be able to continue to advance after children but the deal environment is brutal and doesn’t leave much room for balance.

Angel Investing – find a supportive environment to learn in. Many women I speak to about angel investing are reluctant to ask questions in front of predominantly male audiences, particularly when they are new to angel in investing and are perhaps not familiar with the jargon or the process. I’m part of a group called Investing Women Angels which is all female and we pride ourselves in providing an environment in which women can learn. There are all-women and women-led groups all over the world.

What’s your best financial advice for any woman?

Money is power. Whether you are talking about you personal finances or your business finances, being on top of your money; where it comes from, how you spend it, how you invest it etc. gives you power and control. As an expat, I came across many women who left control of the family finances to their husbands and didn’t really worry about it at all. For most of them it wasn’t an issue but for some, divorce from or death of their partner meant they were incredibly vulnerable. Money often feels scary and, in business and personal finance issues, it is easy to be reactive, goodness knows we’ve all been there! However a proactive approach to money is a powerful planning and learning tool.

FINANCIAL FEMALES: EVELYN SIMPSON

Fight the Fear and Put Your Fees Up Anyway

Tips on How to Make Raising Your Prices Easy

If you know you should have put your fees up a long time ago but have been putting it off because you’re not quite sure how it will go down with your clients, here is my take on how and why to do this…

You are worth it

If you need to be convinced that you should be putting your prices up, take a look at all the preparation that goes into your work, the clearing or following up afterwards, and, of course, the travel. I was working with a client who was hiring out some very nice rooms in Harley Street to see her clients. They were paying a significant amount to see her but, after travel to and from the clinic and room hire, she might have been better off working from a local room. Her prices needed to reflect the premium location and her time as a premium provider.

Don’t Be Apologetic

Practise saying your fees in front of a mirror and adopt good, strong body language as you do so. Your feet should be well grounded, your body strong with good posture and eyes looking straight at your client (or mirror). These are your fees so get comfortable asking for them. Don’t dither, be clear, concise and confident. You can even find someone to role play with for extra practice.

Get Into the Driving Seat

Show your potential client how you will earn your worth. Ask questions and dig deep to find their motivation, their pain, what they’ve tried before. What do they want from you and why? Show and tell them about all the value they will get…even go into added value to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Tell them that is why you are worth X amount.

 

Stand Firm

Avoid financial negotiations if you can but if you have to do them a deal can you add in value instead? Never reduce your price more than once: asking for a discount is acceptable, pushing you for another is just rude.

However, there may be times when you really want to work with them and they can’t afford you at the moment. Just tell them this. “I really want to work with you so I’ll do you a special deal at xxx but let’s reassess in 6 months’ time and see how it’s going.” That gives you the chance to stop working for a lower fee gracefully if you need to, but also for them to see how wonderful you are and decide to stay with you and pay a little more.

Make it easy

Make the sale easy. Show them how to sign up and send the link. Give them your bank details, PayPal link or a link to setting up a direct debit as soon as possible. Follow up that sales conversation with everything they need to be able to start working with you straight away.

Know your Fees

Have this written down if you know you’re inclined to waiver. It’s much less likely to happen if you are reading off a list and it’s already there in black and white. Never ask “what’s your budget?” by the way, that just sounds like you are eying them up for how much you can get out of them. Keep a menu system so you are clear as to what each service or product costs.

Embrace Resilience

Accept that some people may not like this. You will put off some new clients and may even lose some old ones. But, do the maths.

If you put your fees up by 10% but lose 10% of your clients, you may even earn roughly the same but do less work for it. If you bill more and work less, surely that’s better?

Look at your Lead conversion

Ask yourself if nearly all of your leads are signing up with you, is this is a sign that you might be too cheap? Lower your lead conversion rate and don’t see this as a sign of failure as not everyone will be able to afford your service.

Don’t explain too much

You don’t need to tell people about your holiday to China/increased rent on the office or new member of staff. It’s fine to say we’ve made some investments in the business, so our fees will be going up by X.

If you are producing products you may need to explain why you’ve used this particular material and it has cost x amount. You don’t need to defend yourself though. Just be matter of fact and set out your decision.

Make a choice

Choose whether you increase it incrementally or all at once. This may depend on your clients. If your clients are individuals or small business owners, putting your fees up incrementally may be more manageable for them. If you are working with corporates you may have more scope to make the jump in one go, unless you were specifically hired on price.

You also have the choice to keep old clients at the existing rate and charge new clients the higher rate, but perhaps giving old clients a heads up that their prices will increase at some point in the future. This is an ideal time to ask for feedback on what you could do to make their service better.

Use it to evaluate your whole business

This is also a good time to look at your clients as a whole, examining who are the ones that pay on time and a pleasure to work with, and the ones that you have to chase or drain you of your resources. If you have someone that regularly uses up more time than they should, you could move them to a fixed fee package (on direct debit or standing order if they are bad payers) and charge them for extra time incurred.

If you’re not quite sure how much time you are spending on your client try keeping timesheets to analyse it. You may be surprised. This is a good exercise to do for the whole of your business. You may find that you are spending your time answering questions by email which could be just as easily put into an FAQ for the website and there you have it, more billable time released.

There are plenty of Apps and systems you can use for this.

Don’t let your own perceptions hold you back

You may think “I’d never pay £X for X” but there are people who will. Don’t look at your potential customers through your own beliefs and view of the world as it may hold you back.

Fight the Fear and Put Your Fees Up Anyway

FINANCIAL FEMALES: ARCHNA THARANI

Empowering and Encouraging Women Into Finance

An interview with Archna Tharani who runs accountancy practice, Oculus Accountancy and has also recently launched a training programme called Your Own Practice which trains and mentors accountants to set up in practice.

How did you get into this?  Did you attend university, and/or fall straight into a role or was it a more roundabout journey?

I studied Maths at university as I really enjoyed working with numbers. After university, I was very pleased to secure a training contract with KPMG, where I gained my Chartered Accountancy Qualification. I left soon after I qualified and joined the finance department of RVC, the manager of Reuters Greenhouse Fund. I gained a lot of experience of the venture capital industry and managing a finance function as I was promoted to Head of Finance in that role.

I took a career break to have my children and when I was ready to come back to work I started looking at different career choices. I wasn’t keen to go back to a corporate accountancy role as I was worried about long hours and not having the flexibility. I explored changing careers and researched other professions such as teaching but I always had a desire to run my own business. I did have a lot of ideas such as running a café or a nursery but none of them seemed financially viable and exciting enough for me. Also, I didn’t want to just give up on all the skills and experience I had gained in the financial industry but how could I combine that with flexibility and financial reward.

I reached out to an old contact of mine who had been running her accountancy practice for 18 years. We met for a coffee and in about an hour I realised a potential opportunity to buy her practice as she was looking to retire. This was now ticking a lot of boxes, I would be running my own business so have the flexibility, I would be using all my skills and knowledge and it was already a profitable business. After about 6 months of research, due diligence and legals we signed on the dotted line and I was the owner of what is now Oculus Accountancy.

In the first year of operation, I made big changes to the business. I converted the whole practice to using “cloud software”, recruited a new team, streamlined all the systems and processes to become a paperless practice. All of which then led us to win “Cloud accounting firm of the year”. I am now a speaker at conferences and events and also a consultant in helping other practices convert to the “cloud”.

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

I commute into London most days but have the flexibility to work from home. I look at all the deadlines for all the clients and I catch up with the team. I review any work that has to be sent out such as accounts, VAT returns, management information or reports. I usually have either client calls or meetings about their business. I may have new client meeting to pitch for new business. There is always some practice management tasks to complete such as billing and looking at work in progress, performance reviews, new client quotes etc.

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

 

Yes, it is a very good job for a woman as if set up correctly using all the latest technology you can work from anywhere so can offer flexibility. It requires good management skills to both manage the reporting deadlines and the all the client commitments. Also as the profession is still dominated by males, being a woman really helps to make you stand out and sets you apart.

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

Although it is a very technical profession, you can use the technical skills to really add value to businesses and the profession is held in high regard. It offers variety, flexibility and real challenge at time which can be very rewarding. You really can choose what type of work and how much you want to do whether that’s working from your kitchen table or world domination!

What’s your best financial advice for any woman?

Manage your finances and build up your own savings. Keep your independence with money and plan your spending. Gain knowledge around the most tax efficient savings and investments and make use of all the allowances available.

 

FINANCIAL FEMALES: ARCHNA THARANI

FINANCIAL FEMALES: ANNA TSYUPKO

Empowering and Encouraging Women in Finance:

an interview with 24 year old Anna Tsyupko who heads up the London-based team of engineers, designers, marketers and payments experts behind the Paybase Platform – the end-to-end solution for payments, compliance and risk. It also powers the company’s own consumer proposition, Payfriendz – a popular P2P app for students and millennials.

Anna’s previous roles have included: Fund Manager at Bellring Capital – a European Family Office; Head of Investor Relations at a German Private Equity Firm; and Executive Director at SeBuT Immobilien.

How did you get into this? Did you attend university, and/or fall straight into a role or was it a more roundabout journey?

Mine was certainly a more roundabout journey. At university I studied Theology and Religious Studies and enjoyed the versatility that the degree offered – it included aspects of languages, history, philosophy, art and sociology.

Through mere coincidence I ended up joining a German Private Equity company where I spent a few years looking after various investments – ranging from vegan fashion to PropTech.

It is in the context of the Private Equity company that I first came into contact with Paybase (then Payfriendz). I was appointed as the investment controller for this project and supervised it for almost three years before being asked to join as part of management.

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

My days vary a lot, depending on whether I have external meetings, big deadlines or important events coming up. As a rule, however, I tend to spend the first hour or so of the day prioritising my work to make sure that I use my time as efficiently as possible. I have come to learn that taking the time to pick out high-leverage tasks and put them above all other tasks is crucial for staying focused.

At 10.15 every day my team and I do a 5-10 minute stand-up where we cover what we have been working on the day before, our plans for the day and whether we have any blockers. We have taken this practice over from our tech team (and tech teams more generally) and I find it to be a great way to align and make sure that everyone has what they need to continue with their work.

The hours following this and up until lunch tend to be spent catching-up with a member of the team, interviewing new potential hires, having catch-up calls with our key suppliers, or out talking to potential prospective partners.

In the afternoon I try to spend a few hours getting on with my own tasks – be it working on the latest financial forecast and pricing strategy, or important banking relationships or contract work for our prospective partners.

The last few hours of the day I tend to catch-up with different departments – be it Marketing and Sales, Compliance and Operations, Design or Customer Support – to stay up to date, help prioritize tasks and sign off on future actions.

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

As a Tech company, the majority of our team is male even though our CTO and I have been trying to get more women aboard. However, we have been keen to, and I believe successful in making our work environment a place that is collaborative, supportive, inspiring for both women and men.

As for the FinTech, Tech and Payments Industries more generally, they are still fields largely dominated by men. This has both its advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand, it is easier to gain profile as a woman in these industries, but on the other hand it is much more difficult to tap into a predominantly male network.

Ideally, both these disadvantages and advantages will soon disappear making it equally easy or difficult for women and men to succeed in this world. In the meantime, however, I would say that leading a FinTech company is an exciting job for a woman as it allows you to further dismantle the gender stereotypes around different professions.

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

Be passionate about payments or technology or about how technology can help turn industries fraught with legacy on their heads.

What’s your best financial advice for any woman?

If you’re running a business, make sure to get the accounting right from the very beginning – neglecting it at first and then having to sort out the mess will cost you a lot of time, stress and nerves! If you don’t want to deal with it yourself, hire an experienced accountant from the start. I promise it will pay off.

FINANCIAL FEMALES: ANNA TSYUPKO

FINANCIAL FEMALES: EILEEN ADAMSON

Eileen Adamson of www.yourmoneysorted.co.uk is a money coach, helping clients feel in control of their finances.

 
Eileen, tell us about what you do now…

 

Eileen AdamsonI run an online coaching business, helping UK based women to make the most of their lives, through improving their relationship with money.  I help them to feel calm, relaxed and positive about money, allowing them to feel confident and in control of their finances. Through creating a good relationship with money, my clients can then live life on their terms and enjoy their lives to the full.

 

How did you get into this?  Did you attend university, and/or fall straight into a role or was it a more roundabout journey?
 

I have definitely had a roundabout journey to get to where I am today. I did a degree in Physical Education and have been a PE teacher for over 23 years. Despite loving my job as a PE teacher, I found that I was struggling to keep up with the demands of a young family, my teaching career and also bookkeeping for my husband’s construction business.

 

I retrained as a bookkeeper, reduced my teaching commitment to 2 days per week and started my own bookkeeping business. I did this successfully for 8 years, but felt that I could help more people with their finances, other than my bookkeeping clients.

 

I eventually discovered Financial Coaching and just knew that this was what I wanted to do! Coaching is so powerful, because it gives people the power to help themselves.

 

After completing a certificate in Life Coaching, followed by a specific Financial Coaching course I started my Your Money Sorted business. Through online courses and one-to-one coaching, I now help UK based women to improve their lives, through being confident and in control of their finances.

 

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

I still teach PE 2 days per week, so on those days I head off to school in my trackies and spend the day teaching teenagers. I still love my teaching and really love working with teenagers – there is never a dull moment!

The rest of my week is really varied. My favourite thing is working with clients and seeing them progress and gain in confidence. This can be meeting clients individually or, more often, responding to clients online.

I also have lots of administration tasks to complete, such as updating my website, setting up adverts, managing social media accounts, networking with other people in my field and marketing to new potential clients.

I am always looking for new ideas for blog posts, so I spend a bit of time researching and writing posts that I hope will be useful to my followers.
At some point every day I also have mum duties and have 3 starving teenagers to feed and ferry around!

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

I would say that it’s a great job for a woman, especially for one with children. I have found that working for myself is really flexible – I can make time in my diary to attend school sports days/concerts etc, which is a lovely bonus. Also working from home has made it easier to cope with times when the kids have been ill, which is thankfully not that often.

The thing that I love most about my coaching is the difference that it makes to my clients. Seeing them grow and flourish, as they take control of their situation, is amazing and brings me such a feeling of satisfaction. I think that many women love to feel that they are making a difference, so they too would get an immense feeling of joy from doing a job like this.

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

Never give up! I am constantly learning new skills and having to adapt and change as I go along. If you love a challenge, are undaunted by obstacles and excited about making your business work, then go for it!

What’s your best financial advice for any woman?

Learn about compound interest!  It can be your best friend or your worst enemy, and learning as much about it as possible will help you throughout your life.

FINANCIAL FEMALES: EILEEN ADAMSON

Financial re-parenting: Creating a healthier relationship with money as adults

Dr Lisa Orban If, as Faye’s research has found, your family are likely to be your financial role models, what do you do if your family members just aren’t appropriate? Even more challenging, how do you make good financial decisions if you’ve been brought up in a family where less-than-ideal financial role models are the norm? Clinical psychologist and personal brand consultant Dr Lisa Orban of www.goldennotebook.co.uk looks at ways that you can shrug off their mistakes and re-programme yourself to create a healthier relationship with money.

 

Step 1: Investigate your own values

Even though your values may be influenced by your family of origin, you will still have developed your own, so take some time to assess what these may be. You may find that security and responsibility are very important to you, for instance, prompting you to ask how you can break away from any irresponsible behaviour your family may have demonstrated in the past. Analyse your spending and saving patterns. Is there a discrepancy between your behaviours and your values? If so, take a look at steps you could take to live in better accordance with these values, no matter how small.

Step 2: Awareness

If your Mum spent money like there was no tomorrow and this made you uncomfortable, then there is most likely some discord there that might benefit from a little introspection. What was it about this behaviour that unsettled you and how can you prevent that happening in your own situation? It doesn’t have to be reckless behaviour. For example, perhaps your parents have worked hard but struggled to pay the rent/mortgage, which has left you feeling anxious about purchasing your own home. What exactly made you uncomfortable about their money habits? Is it anticipatory anxiety that you will one day find yourself in a similar position? These messages from the past do not have to control you today. How can you flip these messages to create good money habits that serve you? What can you learn from their situation?

 Step 3: Positive Role Models

As the saying goes, you can’t choose your family. But you can choose more positive financial role models. Actively be on the lookout for positive role models amongst your friends, colleagues and people that you know. If your neighbours have impressed you by paying off their mortgage why not ask them for tips that could help you do the same, or get inspired by that colleague who batch cooks and brings the most delicious smelling healthy meals into the office whilst saving money at the same time.

Step 4: Look at Your Legacy for Risk

If you’ve ever wondered why you have that particular approach to risk, look to what you observed with your parents. If your dad left a well-paid job to start a business and it turned out well, you’re likely to have a positive attitude towards take risk; if it ended in disaster then taking risks may not be so appealing, especially if that decision ended up affecting you in some way, such as curtailing your piano lessons or preventing you from attending a University away from home. How does this help you? If you have to assess a situation or make a decision where some element of risk is involved, it can be helpful to think about how much your childhood may be influencing your view of things. The best approach is to be aware, put that aside, and try to assess your decisions from a detached and more objective viewpoint. Get another objective set (or two) of eyes on the situation by asking advice from experts or others you trust.

Step 5: re-education.

Given that you may have had years of little or no financial education (or the wrong financial education), a little re-education may be in order. Pick up a few books about money as well as the financial pages of magazines and newspapers. Be your own financial parent and teach yourself what you need to know, whether that’s how to put together a budget or start to invest.  Invest in some sessions with professionals like Faye for tax advice or business strategy, or a financial planner who can add to that knowledge.  Go armed with questions and really use your time with them.

Bringing together her extensive training, experience and passion in both psychology and branding, Dr. Lisa Orban founded Golden Notebook. A clinical psychologist, Lisa trained and practised in New York City for eleven years before relocating to London. Lisa helps clients make a name for themselves by discovering their distinct and authentic personal brand. She takes a unique approach to personal branding that combines psychological assessment and theory with branding strategies to create for powerful and enduring individual change and personal impact. She is currently offering complementary introductory consultations.

Financial re-parenting: Creating a healthier relationship with money as adults

Family Has The Most Influence On Our Money Habits

New Survey Reveals We Turn To family Above Money Gurus

money habitsWhen I launched a survey into women’s attitudes around money I little expected to find that almost over 41% of respondents cited a family member as their financial role model, far above and beyond financial gurus or business celebrities like Richard Branson.

 

I was initially surprised by such a high percentage, but, if you think about it, it makes sense. We see our families dealing with money issues first hand; we’ve observed how they have dealt with problems, saved for the future and it’s natural that those values will have been passed down to us.”

 

Rather than claiming to be inspired by six figure salaries or flourishing business empires, participants talked about their family struggles and successes in day to day life:

 

“Mother. She was widowed and raised 2 children .If she didn’t have the money she wouldn’t buy it. “

 

“My dad, because he came from nothing and will now retire as the CEO of his own company that survived the financial crisis.”

 

“My grandparents – they worked in factories all their lives but made decisions that have them extremely comfortable now they are elderly.”

 

“My mum, she has had to live to a strict budget for as long as I can remember, but always managed to give us most things we wanted.”

 

“My parents. Really struggled when I was young, worked hard, climbed ladder and most importantly appreciated, and enjoyed, their money when it started to roll in. Saved well too.”

 

“Parents – mortgage free and still earning. Brothers/sisters for handling money and lifestyle well.”

 

“My mother. She’s always been good at money management and making the best decisions when it comes to financial matters.”

 

Overall, a pride in family and their financial successes shines through the data. People are proud of their parents working their way up; and their hard work that has paid off the mortgage.  It’s a heart-warming revelation that, despite the world of celebrities and social media, our values and approach to life is still influenced by those we hold dear.

 

My own parents, especially my Mum, had a huge influence on my approach to work and money. I was brought up with a strong work ethic: I had my first job when I was 13. Mum worked hard. I remember her working tirelessly so that I could have piano lessons, but she also had a sense of giving: she wasn’t bothered about the monetary value of things but the pleasure of them, and this has given me a good attitude towards both earning and enjoying money.
Family Has The Most Influence On Our Money Habits