Founder, Conscious Money
Financial advice is more than a career for Cleona. It’s a passion. She loves all things ethical investing, enjoys building portfolios that are in line with clients’ values, and writes a ‘Conscious Money’ newsletter to help the masses engage with their money.
One myth about competence is that we need to be good at numbers to be good at personal finance. Rubbish. I used to work in Canary Wharf, primarily with people who worked in investment banks and I can assure you that being good in your particular area, even in Finance, does not lend to personal finance competency.
Understanding your own self-sabotaging biases and behaviours around money is a huge part of being successful with money and personal finance. We all have these including financial advisers like me. I will help you overcome them.
I tend to avoid talking about fees until I meet a client and get an intuitive sense of what works. I try to arrive at a fixed fee that is reasonable and feels delightful for both the giver and receiver. It used to be an awkward money conversation for me being newly self-employed and now I enjoy the transparency with which I can broach this topic, making it less awkward also for a potential client.
Personally, the biggest issue I find is that women investors enjoy learning a bit about investing along the way, they like feeling competent around investing – not all but quite a large majority. They want to learn and need encouragement to do so. I usually encourage my clients to learn in whatever medium is easiest for them, so they feel empowered and confident.
Handling family finances after a major life change like divorce or a separation alone, without a partnership can be daunting and also, it is a wonderful opportunity to take charge and learn. I have a ‘Conscious Money’ newsletter (plug, I know!) which also throws light on how to understand your own relationship with money which is a complex subject; because as women we also have various conditionings of nurturing others, etcetera it is harder for us sometimes to ask for money when self-employed or even bargain for a pay rise at work. I also encourage attendance of workshops where you can talk to others about your relationship with money – breaking the taboo about money conversations is liberating work – both personally and for wider social change.
Another typical issue is that women are collectively highly underfunded in their retirement plans. Women are out of the workforce for long periods of time due to caring roles more than men (aging parents, young children) ; they are also paid less as the Gender pay gap analysis reveals. Therefore, there is much catching up work in terms of adding money to pensions here. Understanding the vision of what retirement looks like for oneself is important. Then, breaking it down to the figures is helpful.
The plan can be readjusted as retiring may be quite far away, it is a question of just making a start – it feels good to take action and action creates clarity. One of my favourite stories is of a client who was over 60 when she met me and set up her very first pension with all her savings at the time, a modest £10,000. She left my meeting saying she felt ‘all grown up now’. So, it is never too late to start. I am happy to report that she is feeling hopeful and optimistic about retiring soon, having done a lot of catching up with the stock market winds also in her favour.
Holly, 40, asks...
"I’m interested in ethical investing but my robo adviser does it all for me. Am I investing in the tobacco industry? I just don’t know. How can I tell where my money is actually going?"
Choose me for...
• Gain confidence and control over investments and retirement
• Delegate management of finances to a pro
• Ethical investment specialist