Catherine is the founder of The Money Panel - a blog and financial coaching service built around her passion for educating women on the behavioural, emotional and practical aspects of money. We’re huge fans of Catherine because of all the work she does in this space. She holds a diploma in Financial Advice alongside being a Pension Transfer Specialist, is also a qualified money coach and regularly speaks at financial conferences to try and fly the flag for women in financial services.
Her ‘day job’ has morphed from being a regulated financial planner, into a financial coach for women, which means she’s able to offer actual advice when women need it, more than just financial guidance. And on top of all that, she’s a mum of two, sold her first business in her early 30’s, runs The Money Panel, has a podcast (In Her Financial Shoes) and now has her financial coaching business.
In recognition of all her efforts, she was nominated as a finalist in the Women in Financial Advice Award 2018 and her podcast was also nominated as a finalist as one of the Top Money Podcasts in the UK in the UK Money Bloggers Shomo Awards 2018. Check out our interview with Catherine below.
What do you see as your main financial life goal?
What a question! I don’t have one main financial goal but instead lots of smaller ones! I separate my wealth into different pots that each have their own purpose. I have a visual representation behind each of my goals (on my Starling Bank app and on magic sheets dotted around my house!) which help keep me motivated & give my goals meaning and purpose. I am not a big fans of the word ‘goals’ as it’s really more about what creates wellbeing and happiness.
What does financial independence mean to you?
Many people talk about financial independence as being mortgage free and not having to work. For me it’s about becoming financially resilient. Resilient so that I am in a position to choose how I live my life. To be independent means to have choice, confidence and control. So, if we think about the term ‘financial independence’ it is about creating confidence and control. Being financially resilient to be able to cope with financial traumas, such as ill health. To be able to cope with unexpected costs because you have pre-planned for them. Being able to take some responsibility for money in a proactive way so that rather than allowing money to control you, you control money!
What is the best thing investing can do for someone in the long term?
Firstly, lets differentiate between saving and investing. Saving is short term money in the bank. Investing is when it gets exciting! Investing with the intention to grow that pot of money from small acorns to mighty oaks! (Or a holiday cottage with a cherry blossom tree outside on the South coast, in my case!)
Investing is the only way to intentionally grow your wealth. Cash will not grow your pennies into pounds. In reality, with interest rates at next to nothing and the cost of living increasing each year, why would you not invest. Many are put off by the word investing because they confuse this with speculating in things like ‘Bitcoin’ which their friend may have mentioned or they have heard splashed across the news! Investing brings you the opportunity to grow your pennies and provide you with some financial security in later life. I love to invest in a way that reflects my values by seeking out ethical funds and other philanthropic ways to give back.
What do you think is the biggest mistake first-time investors make?
Buying what their friends tell them to or buying what has performed well! This is a behavioural trap that many first-time investors fall into. They invest when the markets are rising (called ‘market sentiment’ or ‘heard mentality’) and then panic when it falls! This is just human nature but these behaviours influence how we make decisions. Think about when you buy clothes. You buy them when they are in the sale not when they are at full price! Be in the market rather than try and time the market!
What would be your best piece of advice to a first-time investor?
Just get started and then don’t stop! For many investors there is a misconception that investing is only for the rich and wealthy. You can start investing for as little as £1. The power of that magic concept of ‘compound interest’ is that small amounts over time can grow to nice big pots later. Investing is not difficult. It is often getting into good habits that is harder. Don’t make the mistake of starting and then stop because you need money for something that you have not prepared for. Think of this investment as something that you want to put aside and thank yourself later. Get interested in what you are invested in. If you want to save the planet and the thought of investing is tobacco and pornography companies makes you shout “urgh”, explore ethical ways to invest. If you feel nervous about starting, choose a pre-packaged investment fund that has done all the thinking for you.
What do you see as the biggest issue in the investing world at this time?
The biggest issue in the investing world is how we can bridge the gender gap. If more women were involved in more senior positions and influence, I believe that the way businesses think and innovate would improve. Greater gender influence would give greater thought diversification.
If you could change one thing about the investment world what would it be?
If I could wave a magic wand, I would like to change one thing. That is to see greater focus on cutting out the jargon and focusing on simplicity! As a profession, we need to work together to make investing simple, engaging and fun. This will encourage good habits, positive behaviours and ultimately serve our economy well.
We need to simplify the alchemy of investing and encourage more education around making better financial decisions that are not perversely driven by past performance. Cut the jargon, increase the education around behaviours and more people will invest, stick to it and grow their wealth. Education alone isn’t enough as more information doesn’t necessarily lead to better decisions. How about an auto-reminder for investors that pings up when the markets go down to encourage investing when they can buy more for their money rather than regulation that forces financial advisers to alert their clients when markets fall by 10%? Now there’s an idea!
Check out Catherine's podcast here: "In Her Financial Shoes"