This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.
- Her mission to empower women financially
- Why it’s important to save
- Why women make such great investors
Hello Emilie! Tell us a bit about you.
Hello my name is Emilie. I am the author of You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich, a practical guide for streamlining your finances, and I’m also the founder of Vestpod, the digital platform and community that empowers women financially through education, workshops and events. I’m French, a Londoner for about 12 years and have two young kids!
Tell us about your business, Vestpod? What’s your mission?
My mission is to empower women financially with Vestpod. I wanted to create a space to inspire women to get started: there is a misconception that money management and financial planning is complicated and only for the ‘wealthy’. We need to change the conversation about money and make it more inclusive and inspiring. Money is not the goal, it’s an important tool that will allow you to live your life on your own terms (think getting out of debt, security for you and your family, protection, achieving your goals, dreaming bigger).
There is still a stigma around money – we don’t talk about it because we have been told it’s rude and impolite. Also because we often associate it with self-worth. But if we don’t talk about money it’s difficult to make smarter financial decisions, negotiate our salaries, understand the jargon. People have lost trust in the financial system. We don’t think banks have our best interests at heart. And this lack of confidence also has a direct impact on our ability to manage our finances. I am filling this gap by making finance accessible to everyone. I am focusing on women because it’s a subject close to my heart.
Financial education can typically be hard to access, difficult to comprehend, and once you’ve got it, hard to understand how it applies to your own situation. Most of us never received any formal financial education but acquired habits over time from our parents. Vestpod provides women with a space where they can talk to like-minded individuals and experts and share their progress and challenges with money. Through the workshops, events and social channels women can talk to women about their future and how they plan for it. Vestpod’s newsletter and social channels offer relatable, clear, concise information to help women understand their financial situation, alongside fun, engaging content. Our Vestpod’s workshops also help break down complicated topics making them easy to understand.
What was the “a-ha” moment that made you realise how needed Vestpod is?
I studied economics and finance and I started working for Lehman Brothers in 2007. I got a job in one of the most prestigious banks at the time working in their private equity team. While working in finance I realised I was not actively managing my finances and it was difficult to find the right adviser to talk to. I had a bad encounter with an adviser who asked: “Where is your husband?” Professional financial advice is expensive, intimidating and not well-adjusted to the challenges that women and young people face in the contemporary world. This gap in financial advising has been clearly identified in the UK – both by the Treasury and the FCA – and it only keeps growing. Second, financial products are becoming more complex and difficult to understand, resulting in a sense of overwhelm but there’s still a big responsibility for households to take important financial decisions. The focus is on financial products while it should be on psychology and behaviours. Third, there are more and more fintech options on the market giving us, the end-users, too much choice…
Why was it a great time to launch Vestpod?
I don’t know if it was a great time when I started three years ago. I think people are realising that they need to start actively managing their finances, that it’s their responsibility and no one else will do it for them. The same applies to long term savings and pensions: it’s your responsibility to save for your future, because unfortunately, a state pension will not be enough for you to live on.
With Vestpod, I’m spending a lot of time with the community and learn so much from women who are part of it. And that has been the case from day one – I don’t know if it was the right time to launch it but I have always adapted my offering to the needs of the users. I am also spending a lot of time delivering talks to corporates and events and that allows me to really understand people’s money challenges.
Have you always had a healthy relationship with money?
I don’t think I ever had a ‘bad’ relationship with money (I don’t think you’re good or bad with money, I think we are all a bit of both!) but it was something I was ignoring. In my late teens, early twenties, I was constantly in overdraft and thought that was actually ok! Later on, working in finance, I wasn’t mindful about my spending and was definitely spending too much on ‘things’ and forgetting about the importance of pension savings for example.
Obviously it has changed a lot with building Vestpod. What helped the most was actually opening the conversation about money, that helped me build healthier financial habits, have financial goals and understand how to build wealth.
What’s been your biggest financial lesson?
It’s not about how much money you make but how much money you can keep. Building wealth is not only about income. I have seen women earning a lot but not actually saving or investing money and others who earn less live very frugally and save a lot for their goals. Building wealth is based on being able to save and make your money grow.
What’s the biggest mistake you seem women make when it comes to investment?
I don’t think women make mistakes when investing money! Research has been showing that women are good investors and found to outperform men at investing! Women are also less likely to take risks, are more diligent in their research, make more diversified investments and are humble when it comes to admitting mistakes. But their financial drive is yet to be fully understood and effectively addressed by traditional financial institutions.
At Vestpod, we know that women have a different approach to wealth building. Women are more likely to focus on specific outcomes and goals when saving and investing, while men tend to focus on products and investment outcome. Due to this variance, women benefit from a more holistic and personalised financial strategy: understanding their values and beliefs is key, as is delivering advice in an accessible, clear, concise and friendly manner.
Specifically for women, the level of financial literacy is low and there is a need for a confidence boost. A study revealed that while women scored lower than men at financial literacy tests, when the option of answering “I don’t know” was removed they scored just as high as men.
And Lastly, if you could share one golden piece of advice for other female founders, what would it be?
Regarding your personal finances: building a startup is an amazing project and you want to give it all you have, but remember that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of projects fail (I failed with my first startup) so don’t forget to take care of yourself, even financially. Don’t invest all your savings into your project, keep some emergency savings always, try to pay yourself as soon as you can and don’t forget about these long term savings (because the earlier you start the better and it compounds over time). Entrepreneurship for me is all about passion and resilience, there are so many moments where you want to just stop everything. I heard someone once said: you need to be equally scared and excited by what you do. I think it’s a good summary. It’s like in investing if you don’t take risks, you don’t get rewards. It’s hard but it’s worth it, I am enjoying the journey: ups and downs!
Indiana Julian is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Co-Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.